Before Treatment

After Treatment

Above: Positive and negative painting pairs from the 'Ads and Illustrations' series

Right: Image showing some of Warhol's source newspaper clippings, including the inspiration for Map of Eastern USSR Missile Bases

Both from Andy Warhol : B&W Paintings: Ads and Illustrations, 1985-1986. Exhibition Catalog by Gagosian Gallery, 2002. 

Map of Eastern USSR Missile Bases (Positive)

Andy Warhol
1985 - 86

acrylic and screen ink on canvas

40.6 x 51 cm

Private collection

This painting belongs to Andy Warhol’s series ‘Ads and Illustrations’ made in the mid 1980’s. The goal of my treatment was to precisely integrate damages and disruptions in the black and white design with minimal intervention. This treatment was performed in 2017 under the supervision of Suzanne Siano and Shauna Young Breatore, as part of the course, Examination & Conservation of Modern and Contemporary Paintings.

Warhol’s series drew upon images from contemporary advertisements, diagrams, maps, and illustrations found in newspapers and magazines. The selected images were then screen-printed onto prepared rolls of canvas in a variety of positive and negative versions and at standard large and small sizes. Afterwards, the paintings were stretched onto auxiliary supports.

The velvety, matte black of the printing ink was easily susceptible to burnishing of the surface causing a change in gloss. The inked design also exhibited fine cracking concentrated in the corners, likely the result of inflexibility of the ink during the mechanical stretching of the painting. Additionally, scuffs and abrasions had left small, dark accretions scattered throughout the white canvas ground. The current state of the painting was not in line with the crisp, delineated features of Warhol’s original composition.

Aqueous cleaning reduced the prominence of some accretions. However, it was still necessary to suppress the remaining marks with inpainting. After confirming the stability of the printing ink, it was decided to unify the original design by delicately inpainting the visible cracks and burnished areas. Water soluble gouache was selected as the best inpainting medium. Matching the monochrome composition was challenging, especially when accounting for the shadows cast by edges of cracks or scumbling over discolorations. The slight gloss of the white acrylic ground layer was replicated by adjusting the gouache with Schmincke Aqua Gloss Medium.

Burnished damages to ink in top left corner.

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Top: Detail before treatment Bottom: Detail after treatment