Photo 1: State Hermitage Museum and Alexander Column on Palace Square.
Just before the holidays, our conservator of photographs Sylvie Pénichon visited the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia where she taught a workshop on contemporary photographs. The course was part of the Hermitage Photograph Conservation Initiative funded by an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant to the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (FAIC) (http://cool.conservation-us.org/photo-ru/). The goal of this initiative is to foster the exchange of ideas among Russian, French, and American colleagues, and to help establish a department of photograph conservation at the State Hermitage Museum.
The course reviewed the trends and challenges of collecting contemporary photographs, including process identification, mounting techniques, and materials used by photographers today, as well as current museum practice for exhibition and storage of contemporary photographs. One of the highlights of Pénichon’s visit was to witness the inauguration of the new offsite storage facility center, which will host the museum’s conservation facilities and storage vaults. Located in the Staraya Derevnja neighborhood, the new facility is readily accessible by subway. Transfer of most of the Hermitage’s collections (roughly 2.5 million items) to the new facility will begin in 2013.
Photo 2: View of the new storage and conservation facility in Staraya Derevnja.
Photo 3: Tatyana Sayatina, Head of the Laboratory for Scientific Restoration of Photographic Materials, proudly shows the new cold storage unit where the photograph collection will soon be stored.
Photo 4: The Avtovo subway station platform. Just one of the many beautiful stations constructed during the Soviet era, likely to make any commuter feel like royalty.
As an introduction, today’s topic is the Art Conservation Lab itself; an approximately 1200 ft2 space equipped with large work tables, a fume hood to protect conservators from solvents, two microscopes with imaging capabilities, an oven for material testing, a large bathing sink with light bleaching capabilities, ultraviolet light analytical equipment, and a spectrophotometer for monitoring any changes in color and density potentially experienced by works of art.
The lab is staffed by two art conservators, Sylvie Pénichon, Conservator of Photographs, and Jodie Utter, Conservator of Works on Paper. In addition, Tatiana Cole has recently joined the team as a Fellow in Photographs Conservation, and will be at the museum for the next two years.
Sylvie Pénichon (imaged above) has a background in photography, and received her master’s degree in Art Conservation and Art History from New York University. Her research interests have focused largely on color photography, and she has published extensively and lectured internationally on the topic. Pénichon’s latest project, an all-encompassing Getty Publication on color photography, is slated for release in the fall of ’13.
Jodie Utter (imaged left) has a background in marine biology, chemistry, and art, and received her master’s degree in Art Conservation from the University of Delaware. Her pre and post-graduate work focused on the application of Asian conservation approaches to Western art. Most recently, Utter has conducted a technical study of watercolor techniques and materials used by Charles M. Russell. Her findings will be included in the definitive book on Russell’s watercolor paintings, scheduled for publication in the winter of ‘13.
Tatiana Cole (imaged below) has a background in biology and chemistry, and received her master’s degree in Art Conservation also from the University of Delaware. Her interests as a graduate student lay in photography, modern materials, and new approaches to preserving contemporary, installation, and time-based media art. Over the last year, Tatiana has been studying staining of contemporary platinum prints, and the materials and methods used by platinum master printers for the past 20 years.
With a full exhibition schedule ahead in 2013, stay tuned for more conservation related blog posts. They will shine light on the work we do here as we ensure the preservation of ACMAA’s great collection, and contribute to the intellectual advancement of the museum and broader field of art conservation.
We offer you the following listing of new books entering the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Research Library, in the month of November. We had a bit of a lean month due to the holiday and staff vacations but still managed to crank out 183 titles. Here are a few selected gems: from 1825, Views in New Haven and Its Vicinity …, an early and diminutive work with hand-colored engravings (only twelve copies reported in WorldCat); Alfonso Ossorio’s Poems and Wood Engravings, ca. 1934, with original prints (some in color); Chromo-mania!: the Art of Chromolithography in Boston, 1840-1910, a gift from the curator of the exhibition at the Boston Athenæum; and, finally, the third set of four photobooks produced by TBW from its Subscription Series featuring the work of Mark Steinmetz, Elaine Stocki, Dru Donovan, and Katy Grannan. Kelly Hunter, library volunteer, contributed the lion’s share of new records this month as she continues her retrospective auction catalog project—these are at the end of the list. All books, with the exception of auction catalogs, are available on the new books cart in the reading room through December. Remember, these books do not circulate outside of the building!
Views in New Haven and Its Vicinity …, 1825
November 30th marks some milestones in music history:
Dick Clark was born on this date in 1929 in Mount Vernon, New York.
Michael Jackson's "Thriller" was released 30 years ago today. (How is that possible?)
Pink Floyd debuted "The Wall" 33 years ago. Everyone go home, cue up "The Wizard of Oz" and enjoy!
William Henry Johnson (1901-1970)
Street Musicians, ca. 1942-1943
Modified screen print
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas
Today Dr. Walker discusses the exhibition Larry Sultan’s Homeland: American Story. The artist Dru Donovan, who was a student of Sultan’s, will speak to both his and her work in a free lecture on November 15 at 6 pm.
Registration is required; visit cartermuseum.org for more details. Please join us.
Check in every other week as Dr. Andrew J. Walker posts a video from his office. These video blogs, or “vlogs” as they are called, will address everything from the day-to-day operations of a museum and how new works enter the collection to exciting new exhibitions on view and the latest thoughts on Dr. Walker’s mind.
Through the kind assistance of the amazing Amon Carter Museum of American Art staff and the support of the institution’s Davidson Family Fellowship, I will be researching the many and varied avant-gardist pranks performed by artists on the West Coast during the fall of 2012. These high jinks often involved artists’ working under assumed names and, ultimately, called attention to a Los Angeles art world operating in the shadow of Hollywood—the character-producing machine itself. Examining the calculated intrusions penned by various alter-egos and pseudonyms can ultimately help art historians better understand the context, reasoning, and functionality of the work produced by artists on the West Coast in general, and in particular the Tamarind prints held by the museum by L.A.-based artists Billy Al Bengston, Ed Ruscha, and Ken Price.
Davidson Family Fellow, Fall 2012