Here at The Center, we are always eager to study new methods of treating objects and learn about advancements in the field. That is why we were honored to host the Chicago Area Conservation Group’s Gellan Gum Mini-Workshop on March 13th. The Chicago Area Conservation Group (CACG) is a local group whose purpose is to promote learning and exchange ideas among those interested in or responsible for the preservation of artwork and archives of all kinds.
Although he is widely recognized for his paintings, Salvador Dali completed a number of series featuring lithographs and etchings. When one of such works came to The Center for care, we were excited to work on such a special piece. This print, titled "Dalinean Prophecy", is number 8 of 25 in a series called “Imagination and Objects of the Future”.
Organization and efficient inventory management are of the utmost importance here at The Conservation Center. It is critical for our staff to properly record each piece as it enters and exits our facility, especially with the recent influx of delicate items from our disaster response efforts. So how do we stay organized?
When this piece first came to The Center, it was rolled on a tube and our client thought it was a painting. However, it wasn't long before the work’s true story began to unfold. Our client had recently purchased the large-scale piece from its long-term owner and knew the work was in need of care. The piece had been on display in a private residence for many years using metal clips at the top two corners. The installation on the wall was similar to how the artist had displayed the work in previous exhibitions. The corners where the sheet had been hung exhibited areas of stress and tears. These same areas exhibited what appeared to be oxidized rust stains that were caused by the metal clips.
When this piece came to The Center, we knew there was a story behind it. When we asked our client, he was happy to share. “The work is from 1946, and is part of a series of photographs that Irving Penn did for Vogue,” our client explained. The photograph features Maurice Tillet and Dorien Leigh, both famous in their time but for very different reasons.
In this second installment of our series exploring the tools and technologies used in the field of conservation, we will head to The Center's fourth floor lab to learn more about one of the major pieces of equipment used by the team: our custom built water washing and light bleaching station. The station allows the conservators to reduce staining and discoloration in paper without the introduction of potentially damaging chemicals.
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.