This major and important new initiative has been long in coming but sorely needed. It provides impartial and independent advice to artists of all levels.
There is a current need to provide artists with a resource organization that can provide accessible, accurate, and current information about available artist’s materials, their composition, appropriate uses, aging properties and safety in use.
As a major step forward in achieving this goal, the Intermuseum Conservation Association (ICA) has collaborated with artists’ materials specialist and professor, Mark Gottsegen, in establishing AMIEN, the Art Materials Information Education Network. The purpose of AMIEN is to provide artists – amateur, student, and professional alike with impartial information about the materials they use, to inform any other interested person or organization about artists’ materials, and to conduct ongoing research.
The need for a centralized artists’ materials information foundation/repository with research capabilities has been recognized for some years in acknowledgement of the following conditions. Communication among the many constituents of the art world – artists, art materials manufacturers, retailers, conservators, conservation scientists, curators, collectors, art historians, and the like – is often difficult to coordinate, not effective, and not widely disseminated. Artists are constantly choosing new materials outside the traditional range of art materials and have no avenue for understanding their properties. Art materials education, once a vital part of a young artist’s training, has been severely curtailed.
Until the late 1990s, most information about art materials was found in books, often inaccurate or already outdated by time of publication. With the advent of the Internet, information about materials can be circulated but there is no impartial mechanism for verification of posted statements from artists or manufacturers. Other vital information is published in venues not readily available or known to artists, such as the journals of the American Institute of Conservation (Washington, DC) and the International Institute for Conservation (London, UK).
AMIEN’s mission is to provide comprehensive, up-to-date, accurate and impartial information about artists’ materials to artists, educators, organizations interested in the subject, and the general public. AMIEN will develop and conduct regular educational programs in materials education, to be offered to schools, professional training programs for artists, art historians, conservators, and community groups. These programs will continue the research programs begun by Gottsegen in 1978 in partnership with ASTM International (the American Society for Testing Materials), state and federal government agencies/groups, and private foundations, and will initiate new research with these groups and the ICA.
In the first phase of establishing AMIEN, the web site <www.thepaintershandbook.org> has been redesigned to reflect its transition to AMIEN, and its broadened scope of mission and goals. As AMIEN goes forward it will continue to make available additional programs currently in development.
AMIEN is freely accessible via email, telephone, ordinary mail, fax, and through its stand-alone website. The website [Beginning in December 2006, see www.amien.org] hosts a forum for discussion, and publishes papers of interest to artists and the other constituents of the world of artists. In addition, AMIEN publishes short articles and pamphlets in printed formats for distribution to its clients. All of AMIEN’s Internet services will be free to artists, but will charge a nominal fee to cover costs for its other services.
Albert Albano, Executive Director of the ICA, and Mark Gottsegen will co-direct this non-profit organization under the auspices of the ICA’s 501(c)(3) structure. Both Albano and Gottsegen have extensive experience in art conservation, materials education, and interactive assistance for artists. Their spheres of interaction and communication encompass the entire art world of artists, conservators, art historians, conservation scientists, and the manufacturers of art materials. Albano, the Executive Director of the ICA, has worked, lectured, and published in the field of art conservation and preservation since 1976. Gottsegen is a graduate of The University of Rochester and Boston University, where he studied with Philip Guston and James Weeks. Gottsegen has been a drawing and painting teacher since 1976 at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a writer and researcher about art materials since 1975 (The Painter’s Handbook [revised, expanded, and illustrated], 2nd Edition, Watson-Guptill Publications, 2006, is the latest edition). He is a member of ASTM D01.57 on Artists’ Paints and Related Materials (ASTM International) since 1978 and Chairman since 1994
The establishment of AMIEN is being made possible by lead support funds from Golden Artist Colors and artist Jonathan Lasker, among others. The program is housed and supported by the ICA, the nation’s oldest regional art conservation/preservation services provider. Founded in 1952 at Oberlin, Ohio, the ICA has made significant contributions in conservation and preservation education and research [see www.ica-artconservation.org)