Kiss and tell: the conservation of lipstick-based work by Rachel Lachowicz

Elizabeth Homberger and Carl Patterson

Abstract

This paper seeks to further the study of the conservation of contemporary art composed of non-traditional art materials through a discussion of the treatment of two lipstick-based sculptural works by the artist Rachel Lachowicz. The reinstallation of One Month Late and Untitled (Lipstick Urinals) afforded conservators at the Denver Art Museum the opportunity to develop a holistic approach to the preservation and installation of the works. This approach included collaborating with the artist to document her techniques and intent, as well as materials analysis and research to understand the deterioration processes of lipstick. Examination of the works revealed similar condition issues including “sweating” and mechanical damage. The composition and deterioration of lipstick are discussed, as are the treatment and preventive conservation plans for the lipstick-coated urinals and ties.

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