Restoration and Conservation in the Neue Nationalgalerie

From both art historical and art technological perspectives, the versatility of art at the beginning of 20th century was unlike any other epoch of our time. The transition that artists brought about, moving away from traditional methods and workshop practices to a freer working style, employed the most diverse techniques, materials and styles, which in turn pose particular challenges for the restorers of our time. They demand a trained eye as well as meticulous examination practice. The boundaries between an artist’s work and alterations by the artist or others are often blurred or cannot be immediately discerned.

Painting in this period was characterised by abstract compositions, multistep work processes, the use of new, commercially available products, a joy of experimentation and unusual combinations of materials. For this reason, it cannot be ruled out that phenomena related to painting materials may already have led to changes or damage in the works, not to mention improper handling and/or later revisions, reworkings and restorations. A detailed examination of the various components of a work is essential for its conservation and restoration.