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.
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.
As a Chicago-based company, it’s always a treat when pieces come to us with a bit of local art history. Recently, we had the opportunity to restore a large painting by James Allen St. John, a Chicago artist who is most commonly known for his illustrations of the popular Edgar Rice Burroughs "Tarzan" series.
As the skies clear up and bright summer days begin, we felt it was only fitting to feature a landscape that recently underwent a similar experience. When the painting first came to The Center, our conservators quickly noted that the varnish layer had discolored, and the piece would likely brighten significantly if the varnish was removed.
The face of our first president, George Washington, has become familiar due to the immortalizing portrait of him painted by Gilbert Stuart in the mid-18th century. What isn’t familiar is the name Jane Stuart, Gilbert’s daughter, who was a painter herself. Although she created her own compositions and even held her own studio in Boston in the mid-19th century, Jane is best known for the meticulous copies made of her father’s work in an attempt to help keep his legacy alive. Recently, one of Jane's copies came through The Center’s doors with a substantial round tear below the portrait's left eye.
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.