At The Conservation Center we are very fortunate to be surrounded by amazing art everyday. It is an extraordinary opportunity to work so intimately with many great pieces created by artists you have studied your whole life. However during the day-to-day we often find ourselves focusing more on the physicality of the pieces as opposed to having discussions about the many artists that sparked our interest in this field in the first place. Read on to the end of this article to find out which artists are some of our team's favorites! Recently, we had the opportunity to conserve and frame one of our regular favorites, Alphonse Mucha.
After years of storage in a basement and, later, a garage, an old photo album our client acquired had fallen into disrepair. “The pictures were in disarray and I was devastated. I was just so sorry I didn’t take the proper care,” our client shared. The photographs of her mother, father, and young brother were taken in Virginia between 1935 and 1942. While in storage, they had become discolored and distorted from age and exposure to moisture and temperature fluctuations. Motivated by a desire to restore the photographs and share them with her family, Shirley brought the album to The Conservation Center.
The Conservation Center recently had the privilege of conserving two lithographs that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Our client inherited A Midnight Race on the Mississippi by Currier & Ives and J.J. Audubon’s Purple Martin (Calabash) from their parents in New Orleans. The pieces had been living in a second-floor storage unit when Hurricane Katrina blew through and ripped the roof off the facility, causing water to seep into the unit.
The Center recently had the remarkable opportunity to work on a large tapestry created by Marc Chagall. The piece, which is one of only three works by the artist in Chicago, remained unfinished at the time of the Chagall's death. Created and commissioned with the intention to uplift and inspire, the work features a unique and vibrant blue that, for the artist, symbolized hope.
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At The Conservation Center, we have the distinct privilege of seeing a remarkable variety of artworks and heirlooms come through our doors. We also have the privilege of getting to learn a bit about varied passions of the many dedicated collectors that seek conservation, and what it is that makes each of their collections unique.
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There are certain iconic scenes in art that everyone from the casual museum-goer to the serious art collector can recognize instantly. Scenes including the Last Supper, the rising of Apollo’s chariot, and the triumph of David over Goliath have been depicted by artists across the span of art history, and though the style and medium of these artworks may vary, the scenes remain easily identifiable. Another of these iconic scenes is that of the Last Judgement. Artworks imagining the moment when the fate of souls is determined for eternity can be seen everywhere from the Sistine Chapel to local church walls. So when a large-scale painting of the signature scene came to The Conservation Center in need of treatment, we were honored to play a role in its conservation and preservation.
Not so long ago in the present galaxy, not so far away, The Conservation Center conserved a pair of Aliens created by Yinka Shonibare MBE.
Shonibare was born in London and moved to Lagos, Nigeria when he was three. He later returned to his British origins to pursue a career in Fine Arts. As a painter, sculptor, photographer, and filmmaker Shonibare’s trademark medium is batik fabric, as seen in these Alien sculptures.
It was in September of 1862 when 15-year-old John Alexander Parker enlisted in the 18th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment of the Union Army. Although the minimum age requirement for enlisting was 18, it wasn’t unusual for younger boys to join. Often referenced as “The Boys’ War,” the Civil War provided a variety of positions for male youths. For John Alexander Parker, his role in the war was rooted in song: he was charged with carrying the Regiment’s drum.
January is the time of year that many of us consider new beginnings and fresh starts. Many of us resolve to be more conscientious about our diets, exercise more frequently, and to be more mindful and compassionate in our interactions with others. It is in this spirit of renewal that we feature the recent rebirth through conservation of two Buddhist statues. Purchased by our clients at auction in 2001 the statues, not unlike all sentient beings, had suffered with the passage of time.
Bill Lear is a staple at The Conservation Center. Not only have we collaborated on maintaining his extensive collection, his is an active member of our Advisory Board. Over the years we have come to know that there is always an incredible story with Bill's projects. Past projects have ranged from conserving Army discharge papers from the 1800's to fabricating a display for his commemorative Tibetan yak bell acquired during his summit of Mount Everest. So when he arrived at The Center with two signed Shepard Fairey pieces to be framed, we knew we had to ask.
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