Over these last few months, we’ve spent a lot of quality time in our Conservation Lab with a new friend and have made a lot of great memories. We are talking, of course, about our friend Carlos, a suit of armor and mannequin that we had the joy of conserving.
Over the years, the Furniture Department of The Conservation Center has helped conserve many works of antique and fine furniture, both from museums and private clients. So this month, as the weather chills and we all get cozy in our big comfortable chairs, we wanted to highlight them, their work, and what we think are their best treatments.
Amadeo Modigliani was an Italian painter who lived and worked during La Belle Époque. Like many other artists during this period, he resided in Paris where he created some of his most famous sculptures, drawings, and paintings. Although Modigliani was prolific and created hundreds of pieces, he was destitute for most of his tragically short life. The artist is well-known for his portraits, which depict faces influenced by the Baule masks and figures from the Ivory Coast. His distinctive style is characterized by long necks and faces, and by his signature small, hazy eyes. We recently encountered one of his drawings in need of minor treatment and cleaning.
At The Conservation Center, we are acutely aware that accidents happen, so that is why we offer our services at EXPO Chicago every year. Our team of art handlers and conservators prepare annually to assist in every way possible as hundreds of pieces of art are installed in Navy Pier over two short days. This year we assisted with a piece that suffered damage from international shipment. Somewhere along the way, the glass shattered and the paper piece underneath was in need of a quick rescue.
This month at The Conservation Center, we were inspired by the marvelous hues of autumn, as our hometown of Chicago is being swiftly engulfed by red, orange, and yellow leaves. So we decided to revive our Pigment of the Month segment. For the month of October, we chose a beautiful and historically fascinating yellow pigment- perfect for fall- with a very interesting story behind it.
In 2016, The Center had the pleasure of working on a personal piece for Kerry James Marshall titled Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness and we were very honored when the artist gave us the opportunity to work on another piece from his personal collection. “Ipso Facto” is a painting executed on two plywood panels joined together with batons and screws. The diptych is primed and painted with what appears to be moderately applied acrylic. Both panels depict a figure’s rear. The left panel is painted in white, with various colors playfully peeking through the brush strokes, and the other is painted in black surrounded by small white flowers with intimate red and green details. The piece is unvarnished and while unsigned, the painting is characteristic of Marshall’s work.
Tony Tasset, though born and raised in Cincinnati, has developed deep roots in Chicago and is a recognized artist in the Chicago art world. After Tasset moved to Chicago to earn his MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1986, he has been actively producing art for the city to enjoy. Chicago residents and tourists alike might remember some of his public sculptures, such as the giant, 30’ tall eyeball sculpture in the Loop, the colorful storage-container sculpture from Grant Park that was transferred to the University of Illinois at Chicago campus where the artist now teaches, or the giant sculpture of a deer on the city’s newly-renovated Riverwalk showcased just last year.
Commonly referred to as “Mr. Chicago” by his friends, Ed Paschke is one of the Windy City’s most celebrated artists. Born and raised in Chicago, Paschke earned his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1961, and after traveling to Mexico, Europe, and New York, returned to SAIC for his MFA in 1970. Some of Paschke’s earliest artistic influences were the animations of Walt Disney, as well as the colorful caricatures the artist’s father drew on the letters he sent home from Europe during WWII.
Though Roger Brown was born in Alabama and split his time between homes in Chicago, Michigan, and California, the Windy City always held a special place in his heart. Brown moved to Chicago in 1962 to attend the American Academy of Art, where he completed a commercial design program. Brown then enrolled at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he received his BFA in 1968 and MFA in 1970. During this time, Brown and his colleagues (many of whom would become part of the group known as the Chicago Imagists) began to nurture an appreciation for self-taught artists, seeing them not as “outsider” artists, but as worthy of respect and inclusion into the mainstream art world. This, coupled with his travels throughout the United States, Africa, Europe, and Russia, had a profound influence on Brown’s art. Though his works are often bright and simple in composition, the artist’s practice frequently presents a darkly satirical view of contemporary life and American culture.