The Center's Gilding Department specializes in the preservation of frames and objects with gold, silver, and metal leaf applied to the surface. A wonderful example of the type of projects our Gilding Conservators frequently undertake recently came to us in the form of a mirror in need of conservation.
Robert Rauschenberg is frequently remembered for his series of work created in the 1950s and 1960s that combined aspects of both painting and sculpture. Rauschenberg himself called them "Combines", a term he invented to describe a work that is neither a sculpture nor a painting, but rather a hybrid of the two. The artist was always one to experiment and fuse, often creating something entirely new from two entirely different substances.
Known mainly for his colorful paintings and abstracted paper cutouts, Henri Matisse is a name familiar to art enthusiasts and casual museum-goers alike. Perhaps not as well-known is Matisse’s deep and life-long connection to textiles and fabrics. When The Center recently encountered an example of one of the artist's textile designs, we knew there must be a story behind it.
Charles White, born and educated in Chicago, was one of the preeminent artists to emerge during the city’s Black Renaissance of the 1930’s and 1940’s. This year, White’s hometown is recognizing his contribution to the portrayal of African American culture and history with a retrospective of the artist’s paintings, drawings, and prints at the Art Institute of Chicago. After being on display in Chicago from now until September, the exhibition will travel on to New York’s Museum of Modern Art and Los Angeles’ County Museum of Art. Given the current recognition White is receiving locally, we were honored to also find ourselves interacting with the artist’s powerful work at the same time it was on display at the Art Institute.
As the summer season is in full swing and many of us are enjoying long weekends by the lake, one of The Center’s client is taking his travels in a different direction. William Hartel, longtime client of The Center and an avid collector or rare books, recently contacted our conservators regarding the conservation of several books he purchased as travel companions on his summer journey to the North Pole.
With many different departments working together here at The Conservation Center, we understand the value of teamwork. On certain occasions, this means working hand in hand with other companies and specialists to develop the correct treatment approach for a unique piece. When we received a call regarding a large public sculpture at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden that had been struck by a car, we knew right away that engaging some of our trusted vendors to assist our team with the repairs may be necessary.
The Conservation Center is proud to be part of a vast community of individuals and institutions dedicated to conserving the past. We recently had the opportunity to work with such an institution, the Oak Park Public Library, to help conserve a part of their history.
As the skies clear up and bright summer days begin, we felt it was only fitting to feature a landscape that recently underwent a similar experience. When the painting first came to The Center, our conservators quickly noted that the varnish layer had discolored, and the piece would likely brighten significantly if the varnish was removed.