Jason Dean, Cataloger & Technical Services Librarian at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (and previously a volunteer at the research library here at the Amon Carter), recently told the fascinating story of The North American Sylva; or, a Description of the Forest Trees of the United States, Canada, and Nova Scotia . . . This signal illustrated botanical work by François André Michaux (1770–1855) and Thomas Nuttall (1786–1859) stands as the most important study of American trees before the twentieth century, offering an unparalleled record of species growing in the United States and Canada during the period. As Jason points out, this work not only combines the research of both authors but also offers the opportunity to study two different illustration techniques: early engravings (with hand-coloring) based on illustrations by the famous French flower painter Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759–1840) and later hand-colored lithographs. Crystal Bridges has the 1841 edition (Philadelphia: J. Dobson, 1841) while the Amon Carter has the 1859 edition (Philadelphia: D. Rice & A. N. Hart, 1859). The Amon Carter's copy was acquired on the occasion of Ruth Carter Stevenson’s 80th birthday.
Late last year the research library acquired an intriguing photobook published by Phaidon Press, Stephen Shore's The Book of Books. Starting in the early 2000s, Shore produced a series of print-on-demand photobooks using Apple's iPhoto publishing service. Between 2003 and 2010, he produced eighty-three of these books which were made available in limited editions via various galleries. The Book of Books reproduces all these books in a two volume slipcased set, also in a limited edition (250 numbered copies), print-on-demand format. Get your mind around that! Currently, only two libraries in the country have a copy of this beautiful set of books. Please drop by the research library to take a closer look!
A recent story by Susan Schulten on Fast Company's design blog, Co.Design, highlights the work of Francis Walker, superintendent of the nation's 1870 census. Walker was a pioneering data cruncher and graphic designer, and he's credited with his work on the census, wringing intelligence out of the massive amount of data gathered about the country into a clear, graphic form. As it turns out, the museum's research library has a copy of his Statistical Atlas of the United States Based on the Results of the Ninth Census, 1870 .... This folio volume, lithographed by New York printer Julius Bien, a popular printer of government documents and map maker of the period, predates the current infographic craze by a long period and is all the more amazing given that its production was by mechanical and hand means alone. Please come by to view the volume in the research library reading room. We also have copy of Schulten's Mapping the Nation: History and Cartography in Nineteenth-century America.
Some of you may have heard today's interview with Leonard Volk by Kris Boyd on KERA 90.1's Think. As the interview reveals, much of Volk's picture-taking technique and philosophy are embodied in the photographer's new book, Everyday, which includes a selection of images from the photographer's career along with insightful essays. If any of you want to view the book, we have a copy available in the research library.
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