PAINTING WITH UNSTABLE PAINT. This article by Barbara Haislip at the Barron’s website deals with the economic problems for art collectors presented by the use by contemporary artists of unstable paint. It is entitled: “How Stable is Your Rothko?” Haislip uses Rothko as an example of the problems of unstable paint because Rothko used paint made from animal glue and dried pigment, which can fade within ten years when exposed to bright light.
Haislip’s article is about a business which provides prospective purchasers with a report on the stability of an art work. Rothko is not the only artist whose work may not last. Haislip mentions Damien Hirst, Anselm Kiefer, and Rauschenberg as artists whose works can be vulnerable.
This article on the Victoria and Albert Museum website by Harriet Standeven describes a number of problems caused by widespread use of gloss house-hold paints by 20th century artists. One major problem is that little is known about the characteristics of particular kinds of house paint.
Standeven gives some answers to the question: why would artists use house paint? Quick drying – traditional artists’ oils take weeks to dry properly; suitability for dripping or pouring; lower cost—they are considerably cheaper than artists’ oils; and “the fact they are everyday, commercial materials has appealed to artists wishing to disassociate themselves from the traditions and techniques associated with ‘fine art’.”