It is an incredible honor and pleasure that we had the opportunity to preserve this preparatory sketch of one of the backdrops by JC Backings for the classic suspense film “North by Northwest” from 1959. The museum is now open to the public and the work can be viewed in the galleries!
Three years ago, I travelled to NYC to work at the Metropolitan Museum for the installation of LACMA’s “Painted in Mexico” show. I met with valued friends and colleagues, and manifested the thought of starting LA Art Labs.
Ever since I have been working tirelessly, challenging myself to get to know the art scene more deeply, pushing myself professionally, and continuously reimagining what private conservation looks like. Today I am tremendously grateful for the amazing private, royal and institutional clients that entrust me with their collections as well as the incredible conservation professionals (in training and post grad) that supported me in my endeavors throughout the last years. I am so touched and deeply humbled for all the support that I received and the wonderful opportunities that I continue to be entrusted with. My heart couldn’t be more full. 💛
I hope that you and your loved ones are safe, sound and healthy.
With eternal gratitude from the lab.
I had the absolute pleasure to participate as a guest lecturer in Lara Kaplan’s private practice seminar for the graduate students at the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation held this month.
The presentation of LA Art Labs daily operations and the lab’s set up was followed by a virtual lab tour and the introduction of selected projects (with the consent of our clients).
We ended the succesful lecture with a Q&A to give the students the opportunity to find out more about certain topics of interest.
Wishing you all a safe and joyful new year!
2020 has been surreal in so many imaginable ways. Despite the unprecedented challenges we all faced, I am grateful to say that LA Art Labs has been growing and is busier than ever, caring for fine art throughout the country and internationally.
I can’t thank you enough for your support – your trust, kind words and actions have lifted us up during a year that sometimes felt overwhelming. We are starting the year with incredible public and private projects, a new publication about the treatment of fluorescent paintings and a guest lecture at the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation. Furthermore, we will do more pro bono conservation work and consultations, and continue to donate 5% of our proceeds to charitable causes to support communities affected by the pandemic.
A series of online Conserving Canvas presentations took place during the fall/winter of 2020 and the spring of 2021. I acted in the capacity of a specialist advisor and lecturer for the Chilean chapter of the Getty initiative:
December 3 – Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende
Located in Santiago, Chile, Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende (MSSA) holds one of the most important modern and contemporary art collections in Latin America. A Getty grant is supporting training and treatment related to Frank Stella’s Isfahan III(1968) —a large, irregularly shaped painting (from the artist’s “Protractor Series”) donated by Stella to the museum in 1972. During Chile’s military coup d’état in 1973, the painting was hidden, its complex stretcher disassembled and the canvas folded several times over. It was eventually returned to a replacement stretcher, which has now warped and is unable to provide the proper tension needed for such an intricately shaped canvas.
The presentation can be accessed here:
Generously funded by the Getty, I was hired as a Specialist Advisor and Lecturer as part of the Chilean chapter of the Conserving Canvas Initiative.
Together with my highly respected colleagues Antonio Iaccarino Idelson (Rome, Italy) and Christine Fröhner from (NYC, USA) we gave workshops, lessons, and presentations to approximately 30 conservation professionals from South America in September 2019.
Christine and I co-lead the specialist meeting and workshop on cleaning and loss compensation techniques for contemporary artworks. We also advised the conservators at the museum on how to treat the surface of the painting ‘Isfahan III’ by Frank Stella.
Click here to learn more about this incredible project.
My colleagues Julia Betancor, Tomas Maar, Rosa Lowinger and I will be speaking as panelists on the pertinent topic of reopening the international fine art transport from 9 o’clock PST today. Join me and an international panel of experts in the discussion as the COVID-19 pandemic had a sudden and substantial impact on the industry.
Available as a resource on YouTube here.
One recent shift in the fine art transportation realm is the possibility of a virtual courier solution. From my point of view, the virtual courier is a great opportunity for the art community, but we also need to ensure avoiding a slippery slope and custodial neglect through a collaborative effort across disciplines.
I think that chain of custody roles and requirements need firm definitions to establish and uphold professional standards. Works of high value and cultural significance as well as works that are more vulnerable with more severe conditions require the assessment of a qualified conservator to avoid custodial neglect.
The “workshop was developed in response to a cross-disciplinary appeal from arts professionals seeking to engage in thoughtful, guided conversations with artists and to share the outcomes of these projects with their peers”.
I am excited to be part of the VoCA network and to engage in meaning-full encounters with LA-based artists!
During the workshop, I was fortunate and had the absolute pleasure to speak with the SoCal artist Ruth Pastine about her important paintings and the evolution of her artistic technique.
This blog series takes the form of interviews with established conservators who have trained abroad. Each interviewee offers their personal and professional perspective.
Here is my contribution about graduate school in Germany:
My research and LA Art Labs made it onto the front page of the LA Times – click here to read it! An excerpt from the fantastic article by the talented Sonja Sholklapper:
When she began chasing Saturn Yellow, Korbela still worked full time at LACMA, splitting her days between Stella’s pieces and works by Yayoi Kusama, Joan Mitchell, John Singer Sargent, Rufino Tamayo and Pablo Picasso.
Now, she runs her own conservation company, LA Art Labs, and must wait for grants and squeeze tests in on the side — a process that will probably take months.
Even after all of that, the hunt for vintage Saturn Yellow might not be over.
“We will have to do more analysis to find those perfect matches,” Korbela said. “It’s a field that’s very much still in its baby shoes.”
I am honored to be a Specialist Advisor for this Getty project. Next week, I will be traveling to Chile to give a public and an expert lecture, a workshop and continuous treatment advice.
I had the absolute pleasure to participate in the Getty’s Advanced Conserving Canvas Workshop in the Netherlands yesterday.
Conserving Canvas is an international grant initiative begun in 2018 that aims to ensure that critical conservation skills needed to care for paintings on canvas do not disappear.
I just registered for the Conserving Canvas Symposium at the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage at Yale University. This will be the first major international gathering on the subject since 1974.
According to the organizers, the symposium will address historical approaches to the structural treatment of canvas paintings; current methods, materials, and research; and the challenges facing the structural conservation of modern and contemporary works.
With today’s field embracing minimal-intervention techniques and maintaining differing opinions on the efficacy of more invasive approaches, the symposium will provide a long overdue forum to reevaluate historical and current practices as well as inform future directions for the conservation of canvas painting.
I had the absolut pleasure to treat one of the paintings in LACMA‘s upcoming Frank Stella show. LACMA is currently helping me to obtain a grant to continue the research I started on Stella’s early daylight fluorescent paintings. Stella used paints and pigments from the DayGlo Color Corp, which are now incredibly difficult to treat as no precedent is set on their treatment. My research, however, aims to provide the conservation community step-by-step instructions for treatment as well as guidelines for proper storage and exhibition.
Follow this link to learn more about LACMA‘s upcoming Stella show:
I am humbled and honored to be this year’s FAIC Individual Professional Development Scholarship Award recipient.
My narrative report about the award will be published on the website of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) shortly.
AIC and it’s foundation are generously supporting conservation education, research, and outreach activities within the conservation community. With my recent shift to private practice I am particularly grateful to AIC’s support.
I am utterly delighted that my peer-reviewed Professional Associate status with the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works is finally official.
I was just referenced in the recent publication ‘Edvard Munch – Between the Clock and the Bed’ by the brilliant researcher Mille Stein. Prompted by this situation, I would like to point to my contribution to the book ‘Public Paintings by Edvard Munch and his Contemporaries: Change and Conservation Challenges’.
My paper focuses on five paintings by Edvard Munch in the collection of the National Gallery of Denmark in Copenhagen. Two paintings suffered from complex structural problems, as local crack patterns, flaking, and paint loss have been a constant issue, even after repeated selective consolidation. As all treatments have thus been of limited success in the long term, I identified the causes of this recurrent problem in order to develop a strategy to ensure the paintings’ stability in the future.
The clarification of structures in the two deteriorated paintings not only helped to substantiate the presumptions about their physical and chemical deterioration, but also complemented the existing body of research into Munch’s oeuvre for an understanding of degradation processes in his paintings.
To purchase the book click here.
For a look inside the book click here.
As a member of the American Institute of Conservation (AIC), I participated in the organization’s 45th annual meeting in Chicago and was part of the Advancing Leadership in Conservation working group. Check out my blog post about the opening session on AIC’s website.
Some paintings undergo remarkable transformations during the restoration process. My recent treatment of a painting by Anton Raphael Mengs was kindly acknowledged in a post on LACMA’s blog. The painting can now be enjoyed in LACMA’s European galleries.
I examined and restored a panel painting by the German-Dutch flower and still-life painter Abraham Mignon (1640-1679) at the Conservation Department of the National Gallery of Denmark during preparations for the exhibition Flowers and World Views.
The artistic quality of Mignon’s meticulously detailed works had disappeared under thick layers of yellowed varnish and discoloured overpaint. This project was an opportunity to remove the old restorations in order to reveal the virtuosity of Mignon’s works.
This film offers insight into a conservator’s working process. See how I analysed and restored a panel painting by the German-Dutch flower and still-life painter Abraham Mignon (1640-1679) at the Conservation Department of the National Gallery of Denmark, and how hidden stories are unveiled.
Producer: Mathilde Schytz Marvit
Director/camera/editing/sound/light: Alexandra Kristjansen
Music: Frederik Strunk
Grafic: Louise Springborg
Content: Kamila Marta Korbela