A friend and long-time supporter of The Center recently brought in a piece to update its display. The artwork, which is composed of many individual artworks— plaques with various texts by Jenny Holzer— was to be rearranged and given new framing materials. The result is a work that is more cohesive and visually pleasing.
Many of us have things passed down from our family, maybe stuffed in boxes in the attic or basement, that are treasures to us. These treasures, though maybe not valuable in the eyes of the public (or art market), are priceless to us. “Everybody thinks their Great Aunt Margaret was a great artist,” said one of our clients. Yet sometimes, as that same client found out, it turns out to be true.
A painting by early twentieth-century Chicago artist Marie Blanke was significantly brightened after a good cleaning and a fresh coat of varnish. The original canvas, which was deformed and brittle from age, was flattened with a combination of heat, suction, humidity, and weight techniques, and then strengthened by being lined to a prepared canvas. The painting was put back into its original frame, the miters of which were stabilized.
Sometimes pieces arrive at The Center in good condition, but have inappropriate framing treatments. We are frequently asked to reframe art, or to provide solutions to address faulty framing. For instance, one piece came to us in great condition, it had simply slipped from its mount inside its frame. The piece was a mixed media work by Mark Bradford, an installation and conceptual artist from Los Angeles who had first experimented artistically in his mother’s hair salon, and now has pieces in museums around the world.
Louisiana’s most famous female artist, Clementine Hunter, didn’t start creating art until around the age of 50. Born just a few decades after the Civil War, Hunter lived most of her life on the Hidden Hill and Melrose cotton plantation where she worked as a field laborer and domestic worker, respectively. It wasn’t until the mid-1940’s when a visitor of the plantation left behind art supplies that Hunter began to create the art she is known for today.
Frederick Douglass changed the course of history with his powerful writing and moving speeches. An escaped slave, Douglass devoted his life to the abolition movement and even became involved in the movement for women’s rights. Douglass also published his own newsletter called the North Star and wrote numerous autobiographies.
The Center has conserved and digitally replicated everything from family albums, all types of journals, archives, letters, and rare or cultural materials that are irreplaceable. This story focuses on how The Center assisted a client with creating two digital and archival scrapbooks that documented the original material from personal memories and events. The custom made digital scrapbooks were then bound in leather with custom designed clam shell boxes for protection and safe handling. This is an example of how The Center continually strives to save, preserve, and protect works - whether a family heirloom or a rare work of art.
Art has the incredible ability to take hold of you, transfix you, and then transport you into another state of mind. That’s exactly what happens to one of our clients when he gazes at “The Trinity with the Virgin and Two Donors,” a painting attributed by one expert to Marten de Vos, a Flemish history painter and portraitist of the late 16th century.
As the weather grows colder here in Chicago, we are constantly dreaming of our next getaway. One classic that captures our wanderlust is Audrey Hepburn’s “Roman Holiday.” Unfortunately, Rome is a little far, but luckily, we had the opportunity this month to watch the treatment of a Greco-Roman painting instead.