You've Punched a Hole In Your Picasso, Now What?

Posted on October 27, 2006

By now, you've probably heard about how casino owner Steve Wynn accidentally punched a hole in his $139 million painting by Pablo Picasso, Le Reve (The Dream), 1932. If not, you can read Nora Ephron's explanation of how it happened (art lovers, you might want to take a fortifying drink or two before you read it.) So how exactly will they repair the damage? Slate explains:

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.

This is just part of the painstaking process explained by Slate. There are only three or four people in the U.S. who are qualified to do this kind of work on such a valuable painting. Looks like one of them is going to be very busy for the next year or so.

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