17 Oct 2006

The Hazards of Collecting

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Pablo Picasso, Le Rêve (The Dream), 1932
(hole supplied by Photoshop)

Steve Wynn has a special relationship with Picasso’s famous cubist period painting Le Rêve. He purchased it at Christie’s, New York, November 10th, 1997 for $48,402,500.

Reputedly the painting served as the original inspiration for his Wynn Las Vegas resort.

Wynn, however, decided to part with the painting and had successfully negotiated a deal to sell it to Steven A. Cohen for $139 million.

The Las Vegas Review Journal reports that, in connection with the impending sale, Wynn was in the process of exhibiting the famous painting to a group of luminaries including Barbara Walters and screenwriters Nora Ephron and Nicholas Pileggi, when, gesturing, he punctured the canvas with his elbow, leaving a hole in the female figure’s left forearm. Wynn suffers from some vision problems.

The sale is not expected to proceed. The painting, of course, will be repaired.


UPDATE 10/21

Daniel Engber explains how the painting will be repaired:

It will be slow and tedious work. The torn ends of the canvas can probably be lined up, and conservators can identify matching fibers on either side of the rip by inspecting them under a microscope. In general, you can expect the wefts in the fabric—that is, the crosswise yarns of the weave—to split at the site of the impact. The lengthwise warps tend to get stretched out, but they may not break.

The rip itself can be mended in a few different ways. First, the conservator can line up the torn ends and affix them to a new piece of fabric that lines the back of the painting. She might also try to attach the torn ends to each other using a method called Rissverklebung, in which individual fibers are rewoven back into place.

To reweave the warps and wefts, you have to figure out the proper placement of each individual fiber. Bits of paint that are stuck to the fibers must be glued in place or removed until the reweaving is complete. (Conservators map out the location of each paint flake they remove so it can be replaced in precisely the right spot.) Because an accident will stretch out some fibers and fray others, you sometimes have to tie off and shorten some threads while attaching new material to lengthen others. Threads attached to the back of the canvas will reinforce the seam.

Closing the tear is only the first part of the process. An accident like Wynn’s can damage the painting in other places by stretching the fabric and distorting the image. To correct for these planar distortions, the conservators try to change the lengths of individual fibers or small patches of the canvas. Applied humidity can make a fiber expand across its diameter and shrink across its length—and tighten up distended parts of the weave.

Bits of paint that have fallen off the painting must also be replaced. Wynn might have surveyed the scene of the accident and saved any stray bits of paint for the conservators in a petri dish. (Chance are he didn’t strip much off the canvas—Ephron says he was wearing a golf shirt, which suggests a bare-elbow blow. An elbow covered with rough fabric would probably have done more damage.) Conservators have to touch up spots of missing paint with fresh material, color-matched to the surrounding area.

One more thing: Conservators always try to make their repairs reversible. That way, you won’t cause any permanent damage to the work if you screw up, and someone can always try to improve on your work in the future.

8 Feedbacks on "The Hazards of Collecting"


I borrowed your Photoshopped image for a post on my blog today about Le Reve. I link back to you. Hope that’s ok…



Why, I’m always glad to provide an image.


hunter s thompson

NRA trash


Hunter S. Thompson belonged to the NRA and killed himself with a handgun.

I was obliged to delete your lengthier reply, because it was filled with obscenities. It was also lacking in substance, and had nothing in particular to do with the posting to which it was attached.

This one, too, is completely devoid of content, but at least it gives me a chance to comment on the incongruity of someone with your views calling himself “Hunter S. Thompson.”

hunter s thompson

sorry man all the hypocrit bullcrap on your blog just made me mad. I never fully understood how americans could live with a two party system (nor do i really like the multiple party system here in europe). Anyways saying dems are bad and reps are good is just like saying apples are bad and apples are good. It doesn’t. friggin. matter.

hunter s thompson

and why the hell do you have a drawing of a colonist shooting a native american up there? You proud of that or what? It’s horrible


You really are a politically correct sissy, aren’t you?

That image is of the famous frontiersman and Indian fighter Lewis Wetzel shooting one of three Indians whom he killed as they pursued him with malicious intent. Note the tomahawk flying out of the deceased Injun’s hand.

I use that image to symbolize this blog’s fatal and decisive destruction of the barbarous adversaries of civilization.

hunter s thompson

politically correct? I’d rather stick my head in sheeps diarrea then having to do anything with politics. Every country, every single one of em, is getting screwed over by a small group of people who have way more social power then they do day after day after day. And America is one of the nastiest examples. I don’t care if it’s bush or obama or anyone else for the matter. In the end, all they do is benefit certain gigantic corporations, but hell, the people don’t care anymore anyways. Instead of a public that questions the people in charge, we now live in a world were people support a certain group, and only question the others who stand opposed to their group. We live in fear of what governments can do to us if we don’t comply. Why isn’t it the other way around??? Why don’t governments fear their people, as it should be? It amazes me every single day, how lazy the world has become in true, logic thought.

Lewis Wetzel huh. A man famous for killing other men. That’s the bees knees right there isn’t it.
It’s shit like this that makes me shake my head. First of all, the man is a murderer. It doesn’t matter what indians once did to him, in the end it seems he just lacked solid moral reasoning, as he didn’t hold a grudge against his wrongdoers, but against the entire community of natives. Now, imagine your “precious” country was invaded by outsiders. I could only imagine the bloodiness of the war that would unravel. Would you hunt down one of those outsiders, who murdered several of your friends/relatives who had done not a thing at all to cross him? Gee Dave in fact i’m quite sure you would. Perspective, get yourself some.

And now, the gem of your little speech: civilization! How is it that you invent a hierarchy, placing civilization at the top, and adverseries, who seem to be naturally barbarous to you, beneath? Do you know this to be a universal truth? Do you maybe understand the true nature of a human being, giving way to the creation of the hierarchy? You are in luck, for i can answer that last question: you don’t, and neither do I. So what gives you the mental right to classify different groups of human beings, from different periods of time, each with their own very rich, yet very different cultures? Well, first and foremost, you are born and raised in a culture of your own, a culture that allows you to make distinctions like this, and even encourages it. You may think you are being rational and objective, but the truth is you never will be. All you encounter during your lifetime is seen through a pair of glasses drenched in a specific north american culture. (Too bad your geographical cultural field has been a testing ground for manipulation, loss of free will and unconscious slavery for some time now). You must not forget the fact that things could have been very, very different. You could have been born, that is, the essence that is you could have been created in a different time, in a different place, in short: under different circumstances. You could have been born a native, or a poor asian child, or even a woman in ethiopia or somalia (gasp, did i just name another barbarous adversary?), all with a different upbringing and culture. But here you sit, justifying actions long gone out of this world, placing yourself and your fellow north-american-right-wing-purveyor-of-unpopular-opinions man on a piedestal above the rest of humanity, thinking that this will become a fact of eternity, that none other will succeed as well as david zincavage did, that the pinnacle of society and civilization has been reached right behind your eyes. You must realize that our civilization is one of grand imperfection, merely a stone throw away from ancient greece or mesopotamia. Our western civilization has become one of large-scaled apathy, forced consumerism and loss of identity. We applie torture, mask our deficiencies (the one thing that makes us humans, and not gods), deify money and have unbalanced and abandoned the only thing that makes Life possible: nature.

We have reached a new low in the history of civilization, and will continue doing so, reaching unimaginable depths whilst sinking ever further, untill we implode under our own weight.

Civilization, my dear man, is barbaric.


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