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.
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.
Here at The Center, we are used to seeing all sorts of artwork and family heirlooms come from worldwide locations, but we’ve never had an item come to us from out of this world! This particular story started off a little something like this…
The countdown began; ten, nine, eight, seven. The family watched as the space shuttle was about to lift from the launch pad; three, two, one, Blast Off!
Made of delicate fibers, folded, and carried in the pockets of soldiers, Japanese “good luck flags”, commonly known in Japan as yosegaki hinomaru, were parting gifts for soldiers deployed into battle. These flags are evidence of a long standing tradition among Japanese servicemen. The Japanese National Flag, commonly known in Japan as hinomaru, was used to facilitate these messages of prayers and well-wishes from loved ones, so that the soldier could endure the difficult times ahead; yosegaki, refers to the gathered writing, often inscribed in a pattern radiating from the center of the flag. A yosegaki hinomaru experienced only a fraction of the harrowing perils of war experienced by the soldiers who carried them to the front lines. It is remarkable that these flags have survived to continue the story of the soldiers who brought them into battle.
When Greg brought his map into The Center, he wasn’t seeking conservation work - the map was already in great condition. What it needed was quality framing to properly display it in Greg’s home and keep it safe for another 373 years. That’s right - dating back to 1643, this map of the Great Lakes by Jean Boisseau may not be helpful for travel these days, but will take you on an interesting trip to the past.
When Joe went down into the basement of his girlfriend’s house to repair a leaking pipe, he would have never guessed that within hours he would be at The Conservation Center’s doors with a striking, but severely deteriorated, painting of Superman in hand. It was wet, stained, moldy, and even had insects living behind the frame. Fortunately, The Center’s team was at the ready to stop this kryptonite before it could do its worst.
Given The Conservation Center’s history of treating artworks that have succumbed to fire and flood damage, it may surprise you to know that a few of the most common culprits of damage are poor materials, framing, and storage techniques. Luckily, with proper foresight and preparation, most of this damage is preventable. In this article we will examine some of the common "red flags" to look for in consideration of your own framed art and heirlooms.
Recently, The Conservation Center was introduced to a little-known, yet charming, oil painting entitled The Musician by a French artist named Louis-Armand Dupont. "I believe Dupont started an art school. I don't know his other artworks; all I know is he loved to paint," shared Alice Morales, the painting's owner, as she discussed the background of the work she brought to us. "I discovered he was actually a wine producer." With a little research, we found the winery is still active and has a portrait of Louis-Armand proudly displayed on the wall. Located in the Pays d’Auge region of Normandy, the Louis Dupont Family Estate is run by the living descendants of Dupont, though their research found records of their family in the area as far back as 1703.