R Agass Baumgartner - Conservator
Seldom do I take a day off from the 31 Clubs work I do at home but yesterday was the exception and what a learning experience it was. A wonderful young artist by the name of Gretchen visited me and brought several paintings from Kentucky for me to purchase. We agreed to meet in the office of R. Agass Baumgartner who happens to own one of the premier restoration studios in the United States.
Having talked to Gretchen about the paintings I knew that they would have to be restored, even if it were just a cleaning, because the owner had been a heavy smoker. While we were in his studio, Mr. Baumgartner gave us a wonderful study of restoration. The first lesson he shared with us was that it is always best to do as little to a painting as is needed. He said the purpose of restoring is to take a piece back to the condition that it was in when the artist painted it. “My work is not to enhance a painting or make it better than when it was painted but to bring back the original beauty of the piece and prepare it for many years of being admired in the future “ he said.
We continued to ask questions because where could we receive better answers than here so one I asked was, “When do you reline a painting?” His answer surprised me, “Only as a last resort. If the edges of a canvass are damaged, we strip line the painting, which is just adding a small strip of canvas so that the original canvas can be properly tacked to the stretchers.” He also shared how it is possible to reduce cracks in the paint and how waxing a canvas gives it more stability.
I was utterly amazed by the amount of knowledge this gentleman has at his command. You could see the love that he has for each work that was restored. Also what a pleasure it must be to work with your son every day and in such a beautiful studio overlooking Michigan Avenue. I would highly advise anyone that has a painting worthy of restoring to contact Baumgartner Fine Art Restoration at 1006 South Michigan Avenue Chicago Illinois.
Last but not least was his advice that if you are going to restore a painting be sure to have it done by a qualified restorer. Don't have a person attempt to restore your painting just because they say, “I will do it cheap.” In that case it is better to leave it un-restored and let the new owner decide what he wants to do with it. Undoing a bad restoration can be very expensive