The ancient city of Rome and its many architectural masterpieces need no introduction, but this painting may. Depicting a charming scene of the Tiber River as it flows through Rome, this late 18th century Italian painting was brought to The Center for treatment by a client whose family hoped we could revive the color in their yellowed painting.
The Conservation Center is fortunate to have specialists with a wide variety of backgrounds under one roof. This allows our conservators to come together frequently to analyze complex pieces and collaborate on treatments. This is especially useful when it comes to treating pieces like large, antique screens, which often require not only the expertise of The Center’s furniture conservators, but also input from The Center’s gilders, paper conservators, and objects conservators. These collaborations, which are often completed in multiple campaigns, require each party involved to dedicate hours to meticulous, step-by-step treatments. One screen, which was recently completed The Center’s team, demonstrates how valuable these types of collaborations can be.
From professor and poet to author and architect, Alfred Caldwell’s long career led him on a varied journey with many paths. While Caldwell is most commonly known for his landscape designs, he also spent time working as the Superintendent of Parks in Dubuque, Iowa, as well as a professor at Chicago's Illinois Institute of Technology. Recently, these two locations from Caldwell's past met again when the Dubuque Museum of Art brought more than 80 architectural blueprints to The Center for treatment.
When this piece came to The Center for treatment, we knew it was only a matter of time until we discovered the story behind it. After several conversations with the owner followed by some research on our end, we discovered that the clock was designed by Irving Harper for the “Motion Notion” series in 1959-1960. Often referred to as the “Compass Clock”, the timepiece was produced by George Nelson & Associates, where Harper worked as a designer for nearly seventeen years.
Maria Sol Escobar, otherwise known as simply Marisol, was born in Paris to Venezuelan parents. She would later find a home in New York city, where in time her unique and varied artistic talents would make a significant mark on the art world. In the 1950s, she worked out of a small loft studio that she shared with a man name Richard Buzzle. In the evenings, she would borrow Richard’s tools. They became friends, and when it came time to part she made him a gift. The gift stayed privately within Richard’s family and was passed down through generations but never publicly exhibited. Years later, it would resurface when mentioned in a 2014 volume about Marisol’s career titled Marisol: Sculptures and Works on Paper. Most recently, it reappeared again when Richard’s daughter and granddaughter brought it to The Center for conservation.
Giving and receiving holiday cards is a beloved tradition, bringing friends and family members from near and far together with just a simple gesture. No matter how far from loved ones you may be, opening a holiday card can make you feel close and connected to those you miss. This was the feeling that one of our clients had when he recently discovered some long-lost original artwork for old holiday cards.
The field of conservation continuously evolves as new technologies are introduced and assimilated into to a conservator's toolkit. From incorporating lasers to clean stone, metal, or wood to modeling painting cleaning after gecko feet; the field of conservation benefits greatly from innovation and technique development. On the contrary, conservation is also a very old field and many techniques and tools that were used hundreds of years ago are still in rotation today. The Gilding Department is one such department where modern innovations are incorporated, however little has changed in regard to materials and techniques over hundreds of years.
Recently, The Conservation Center’s team had the great honor of conserving several pieces from the interior of the Holy Cross Chapel of St. Andrew Greek Orthodox Church in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood. After the objects sustained water damage, The Center’s team was happy to be able to assist in the process of preserving the pieces and the historical identity of the church.
From quick triage treatments to long on-site hours, the past few months at The Center have been full of surprises. To wind down a busy season, we are bringing back our reoccurring “A Day in the Life” Photo Series. Browse the images below to see what our conservators, account managers, and shipping team have been up to both inside The Center's Chicago laboratory and beyond.
This past August, two conservators from The Conservation Center traveled to Louisville, KY to conserve the vibrant collection of public art on display at The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts.
The Kentucky Center seeks to cultivate the artistic scene in Louisville by providing programming ranging from music and theater performances to numerous outreach and education services, The permanent artworks displayed throughout The Kentucky Center feature a number of notable artists including Alexander Calder, John Chamberlain, Edgar Degas, and Joan Miro.