Mastering the Art of Chinese Painting: Xie Zhiliu (1910–1997)

February 6–August 1, 2010

Conserving and Preserving a Unique Resource

The exhibition includes a sampling of Xie Zhiliu's drawings prior to their restoration by the Museum's Asian Art Conservation Studio, which specializes in the restoration and remounting of East Asian painting and calligraphy.

The more than 250 tracings, sketches, and notebooks in the Sarah Shay gift presented a significant challenge to Museum conservators, who stabilized and restored the works for exhibition. Accumulated over a lifetime of artistic practice, most of these materials—which range in size from scraps of paper to works over four feet in height—had become brittle and fragile with age. Moreover, many were folded, creased, torn, or stained, and nearly all were unmounted. Executed in ink, pencil, and charcoal, these works were made on many different types of paper, ranging from stationary, ruled notebook sheets, and sketchpads to glassine, cellophane, and high-quality mulberry bark paper. Because different papers and drawing media react differently to conservation procedures, each work necessitated a unique treatment plan. As all the works have been repaired and stabilized, each has been mounted for presentation, either in a traditional scroll or album format or in a Western-style mat.