Museums

Menil's Damaged Picasso Out of Emergency Surgery

As the Houston Police Department continues to look for Uriel Landeros -- the 22-year-old dude who lobbed a sophomoric stencil onto the face of a Pablo Picasso and then bragged about it on the Internet -- The Menil Collection's real-deal conservation department is doctoring Woman in a Red Armchair back to tip-top shape.

Brad Epley, the museum's chief conservator since 2006, dished about the painting's ongoing treatment during a late-afternoon confab on Tuesday with Menil personnel. According to the Menil's Vance Muse, who attended the meeting, the restoration is going "very well." (Epley was unavailable for comment.)

According to Muse, a better idea on when the painting might return to the gallery could be determined next week following a meeting between Epley and Menil curators. The estimated cost of the restoration wasn't available as of the time this post was published.

This is new territory for the Menil -- it's the first time that one of the museum's artworks has been vandalized. However, the injured painting landed in the right place, due to the Menil's on-site conservation lab.

Epley, who was originally brought on board at the Menil as an assistant paintings conservator in 1999, heads the lab that is responsible for preserving more than 16,000 paintings, photographs, sculptures, rare books, works on paper and more. The department also mats and frames work as well as gets heavy into research that ranges from scientific analysis to interviews with living artists regarding materials and intent.

Everything that's needed to pull off the job -- equipment, materials and a staff that includes three conservators, a postgraduate fellow, a framer and a departmental assistant -- is in-house. Which means that Woman in a Red Armchair should make a nice recovery.

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Steve Jansen is a contributing writer for the Houston Press.
Contact: Steve Jansen