Unveilings: Restoration up close and personal with Elizabeth Wicks

“You have a relationship with the artist. This was a painting in which she put an idealized version of her face, so I am looking at her and working on her and we were communicating on so many different levels.” Elizabeth Wicks on restoring Artemisia Gentileschi’s Allegory of Inclination.

This past March, Elizabeth Wicks, renowned fine art conservator, and fellow Florentine by adoption, invited me over to talk about her life and work.    Our conversation begins with Liz’s journey to Italy, how and why she was drawn to conservation, her studies, background, and formation. She also provides excellent information and helpful resources for those considering a future in the field.    Above all, she gives us insight into and access to the behind-the-scenes life of a restorer.  Liz is all at once a scientist, detective, artist, tech goddess, and keeper and protector of an artistic patrimony that belongs to us all. Join us to hear some amazing stories about magical surprises, unveilings, beloved projects, artists, and materials, and the many unbelievable and unexpected discoveries she has encountered along the way. She also shares some sneak previews and reveals!  We also speak about how we experience art today, the joys of watching works being restored right before your eyes, how critical philanthropy is, and what’s really behind the museum and theater tickets we purchase.  We also touch upon the Disneyfication of Florence, and how the city, Liz, and her work have changed over time and continue to evolve.  We close by chatting about the Women’s International Network, thanks to which Liz and I first met, and how being part of such a dynamic and diverse community of remarkable women in Florence has been so personally and professionally impactful and empowering for us both.  Elizabeth Wicks Biography  Elizabeth Wicks restores fine art from ancient to contemporary, both onsite and at her art conservation studio in the center of Florence Italy. With over thirty years’ experience, she focuses mainly on easel paintings and frescoes. While her work is based in Italy, she consults regularly on projects in the U.S.A. Her conservation projects involve museums, churches, public properties, and private clients. Her work has ranged from restoring murals at Radio City Music Hall to sculptures by Michelangelo, to conserving easel paintings in a variety of styles and media. She also teaches the conservation of contemporary art in the five-year Master’s Program at the University of Viterbo. Her restorations have been featured in several documentaries, and she publishes and lectures internationally on women artists and painting conservation.  She is currently working on a Renaissance panel painting in her Florence studio, a fascinating and laborious project. She’s uncovering figures hidden by over-paint, revealing the painting’s original.  ⁠

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