The Woman Who Saved Picasso

The incredible restoration stories By Amy Sokoloff, Co-Owner and Master Restorer, Chelsea Restoration Associates

How well the artwork is maintained predicts its conservation over time. The condition of an artwork may be affected by several factors such as scratches, stains or discoloration and cracks, all of which happen via inappropriate transport, handling, storage or bad framing. But sometimes your work can be affected by unusual events.


before and after restoration

before and after restoration

Protecting your paintings from environmental effects has a lot more to do with keeping them in consistent and neutral climate controlled conditions than what climate you actually live in. The most important point is not having any extreme changes in temperature or humidity in the environment your paintings are hanging.  Keeping the temperature and humidity at a consistent and neutral level helps to prevent moisture issues, i.e., mold, tautness of canvas, and/or lifting of the actual paint layer. Not hanging your paintings in direct sunlight helps prevent yellowing of the varnish layer, shiny spots on the painting, and also tautness issues. We also generally advise our clients against using glass when framing paintings on canvas. This can create an active environment for humidity and mold, causing lifting of the paint layer, and in extreme cases, having paintings stick to the glass.

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On a lighter note, art restoration isn’t really a business where we have a lot of “funny” stories to tell. At least, not intentionally. However, I do have a very memorable story-without naming names or exact locations, of course! In New York, back in the late 90s, when people would regularly have lavish parties to show off their wealth, artwork, and real estate, I got a call from one of our very good clients, a gallery owner. He had attended a party of one of his own clients at an amazing triplex apartment overlooking Central Park. He told me this incredible story about the party, surrounded by millions of dollars of artwork, with several wraparound terraces covered intentionally in ice. They had topless waitresses ice skating around the terraces serving cocktails. They placed a bar in front of a huge, wall-size, all-white, $5 million Picasso. Someone had splashed red wine on it, and had left very noticeable red spots on the all-white background. Understandably, the owner was very upset. Lucky for me, and mostly the client, no one had tried to remove the stains themselves. Even a light household cleaner, or just water, could have left a permanent stain or caused worse damage when attempted by someone who is not an experienced restorer. To my client’s delight, I was able to quickly and safely remove the spots and get the painting swiftly back to the owner. My professional advice—next party, only serve white wine in front of The Picasso!

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About Chelsea Restoration Associates

Chelsea Restoration studio is a partnership owned and operated by John Powell and Amy Sokoloff who, together, bring over 50 years of experience in the field. In 2004, John and Amy established Chelsea Restoration Associates a few blocks North of the Chelsea arts district in New York City.  They recently relocated the studio to the Mott Haven neighborhood in the Bronx, NY. Chelsea Restoration has restored, repaired and conserved artwork by some of the world's most renown artists, including Picasso, Renoir, Matisse, Warhol, Rockwell and Klimt to Zao Wou-Ki to Kaws, that span from the 16th century to the 21st Century. Whether your artwork is valued at $25,000 or $25 million, Chelsea Restoration can walk you through the process of breathing life back into your treasured artworks.

No other firm provides the quality of work in as timely a manner as Chelsea Restoration Associates, Inc.

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