This is just an example of how looks can be deceiving. This painting by Czech artist Cina Jelinek had been inappropriately housed with glass glazing pressed against its surface. Due to previous exposure to high humidity in a closed atmosphere, the painting was overwhelmed with mold growth. Black and white mold spores were visible in scattered areas across the surface and created a hazy cloud between the painting surface and the glass.
While this appeared to be a very straight-forward treatment, mold should never be taken lightly. N-99 or N-95 rated masks, eye protection, and gloves should be worn at all times when handling moldy objects. A vacuum with a Hepa filter was used to clean excess mold off of the surface. The bag should be disposed of following treatment and removed while wearing proper protection.
Following removal of excess mold by careful vacuuming, the painting was disinfected with an isopropanol solution to kill any remaining active mold spores. The surface was then cleaned using a dilute solution of triammonium citrate, revealing a much brighter and colorful day by the ocean. The painting exhibited very little damage, other than mechanical cracks on the surface. Following cleaning, the appearance of the cracks was minimal and only minor inpainting was performed.
The appearance of mold does not have to mean the death of a well-loved painting or work of art. Treated with care and housed correctly, works can regain their previous and intended appearance.
For more info on mold and mildew prevention and care see: http://www.si.edu/mci/english/learn_more/taking_care/mnm.html