While The Center is always excited to work on challenging contemporary projects in which new media and methods are used, we still enjoy the oldies and goodies. Recently our Senior Paintings Conservator, Amber Schabdach conserved L’adorazione dei magi, an oil on panel piece circa 1600. L’adorazione dei magi, or The Adoration of the Magi, was brought to The Center to address handling damage.
During the progressive early-mid 20th Century, the genre of Abstract Expressionism became a wildly popular timeperiod in American art history. New York School, as some called the movement, was a way for artists to break traditional and social conventions surrounding the art world, and adopt more emotional expression through abstraction. Among the list of Abstract Expressionist artists was Norman Lewis.
Recently, Senior Paintings Conservator, Amber Schabdach, conserved the original cover art for the first edition of pulp magazine Adventure, which was published in 1910.The owner of this unusual painting started reading pulp magazines almost 40 years ago, and his budding interest quickly grew into a collection of pulp magazines and eventually, the original cover art as well. “I always enjoyed the cover art, and in the early 1990's had an opportunity to buy my first two pulp paintings… from that point on, I was hooked on collecting original pulp art.” Pulp magazines reached the pinnacle of their popularity during the early 20th century.
Gertrude Abercrombie (1909 - 1977) was the only child of two opera singers who happened to be on tour in Texas the day she was born. While they continued to relocate throughout her early childhood, the family eventually settled in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago where Abercrombie lived for the remainder of her life. While Abercrombie had some formal art training (she took courses at The School at the Art Institute of Chicago and the American Academy of Art) and she worked in art advertising for a time. Here she quickly developed a distinct style that was all her own, taking inspiration from the Chicago jazz scene.
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.
Although Chicago may be without the standard layer of snow for this time of the year, we here are The Conservation Center are lucky enough to have beautiful images around to remind us of a pristine snowfall. A client recently brought in just such a painting, though it wasn’t quite the impeccable snow scene it once was. Years of grime build-up and thick, discolored varnish had turned the crisp white snowfall into a dingy, brown landscape. But with some time, patience, and careful chemistry, Senior Paintings Conservator Amber Smith was able to bring the original colors back to this Oak Park snow scene.
This month we continue our “Pigment of the Month” series, detailing the origins, history, and eventual discontinuation of pigments once common on the artists’ palette. In this next installment, we explore the history of Emerald Green, and the chemical composition that made it both brilliant and lethal.
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.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the end of The Civil War. Like any thread in the fabric of our cultural heritage, this point in our collective memory was captured countless times by the artist’s eye. With photography still in its infancy, fine art and literature still serve as major artifacts for this defining time period in American history. While many of the artist’s names have been lost over the years, the importance of their work stands as a testament to this era. One of these remarkable works is a painting titled Steamboat U.S.S. Switzerland on River (artist and date unknown), belonging to our friends at The University Museum at Southern Illinois University (SIU) in Carbondale, Illinois. The museum recently engaged The Conservation Center to preserve this piece of Americana, and also taking the opportunity to educate its audience in the importance of art conservation.