Profile: Narayan Khandekar

Lecturer, Harvard University

Narayan Khandekar received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Melbourne and a Post-graduate Diploma in the Conservation of Easel Paintings from the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has worked at the Hamilton Kerr Institute, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge University; Melbourne University Gallery; and the Museum Research Laboratory, Getty Conservation Institute. He is currently Senior Conservation Scientist in the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, Harvard Art Museums and Lecturer on the History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University.

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Harvard’s Rothko Murals Restored-W/O Touching

Mark Rothko is one of the preeminent abstract expressionist artists of post-war America. The Harvard Murals (one of only three mural commissions painted during his career) were originally installed in a penthouse of the university’s Holyoke Center in 1964. The colors of the murals soon faded from exposure to direct sunlight, and each of the paintings faded in its own distinct way.
In 1989, I was a conservation student at the Courtauld Institute in London. During a class on varnish removal, my professor, Gerry Hedley, demonstrated how shining blue light on a picture made it seem as if the yellowed varnish had been cleaned away – returning the painting to how it originally had appeared. It was successful enough to convince me that one day, projected light could be used to restore the appearance of a painting without actually touching the surface.

Category: Arts

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