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.
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.
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.
At The Conservation Center, we are acutely aware that accidents happen, so that is why we offer our services at EXPO Chicago every year. Our team of art handlers and conservators prepare annually to assist in every way possible as hundreds of pieces of art are installed in Navy Pier over two short days. This year we assisted with a piece that suffered damage from international shipment. Somewhere along the way, the glass shattered and the paper piece underneath was in need of a quick rescue.
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.
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.
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.
Located in the Land of Lincoln, The Conservation Center sees its fair share of memorabilia connected to the 16th President of the United States. Among various Lincoln memorabilia, in 2014 we had the honor of restoring the courting couch, the sofa on which a young Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd actually sat throughout their courtship in the home of Mary’s sister, Elizabeth. So when a Lincoln relic causes our conservators to stop in awe, rest assured it is a truly special item.
It seemed like any other Wednesday in September at The Center. Things were relatively quiet after a previously hectic week at EXPO CHICAGO, and the Client Services team was expecting an appointment with Israel Idonije who had a large watercolor piece that needed display options. When the client arrived with the watercolor, the team quickly realized that “display options” was an understatement. The Conservation Center prides itself on interdepartmental collaboration and the consultation soon included several conservators from many departments, all of whom were ready to Bear Down and tackle the task at hand.