Collections

Follow that Art! Six-Sided Planes Gets a Makeover by Paintings Conservation

Last week Balcomb Greene’s Six-Sided Planes made its first entry into the Museums and the acquisitions process via the registration department. This week, the painting heads upstairs to the paintings conservation lab for a little makeover.

My name is Elise Effmann and I’m an associate paintings conservator at the Fine Arts Museums. Conservators are entrusted with the care, treatment and technical study of artworks in the collection. When a painting comes to the Museums as a proposed acquisition, our department must examine it to provide the curators with information about how it was made, and to determine if there are any potential problems with the acquisition due to its condition.

Picasso and African Art at the de Young!

Picasso was perhaps the greatest innovator of twentieth-century art. The power of Picasso’s invention, however, was deeply influenced by sources from across the art historical spectrum. Chief among these was African art. Drawing upon myriad stylistic resources, Picasso created new modes of expression. The development of this multifaceted artistry is illustrated in several works featured in Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris at the de Young through October 9.

FRAME|WORK: El Aborto (Frida and the Miscarriage) by Frida Kahlo

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature a powerful lithograph created by the formidable Frida Kahlo. This work is currently not on view, so we have provided this exclusive virtual viewing!

Follow that Art! Balcomb Greene's Six-Sided Planes comes to the de Young

Every piece of art in the Museums has a history. Whether an artwork has a long and storied past or was recently created by a living artist, its journey doesn’t end when it arrives on our doorstep. 

This is the first in a series of posts that will follow a single work of art, Balcomb Greene’s painting Six-Sided Planes, as it moves through the Museums on its way to exhibition. Greene was an artist and intellectual, a founding member of the American Abstract Artists, and a leading writer and proponent of abstraction.

We will follow the painting’s progress from its first entrance into the Museums via the registration department, through the conservation and curatorial review, onto the process of approval by the Board of Trustees, and finally the public display of the painting in the galleries.

Our first stop is the registration department, where the painting is first received and stored:


Balcomb Greene (American, 1904–1990). Six-Sided Planes, 1937. Oil on canvas. Potential Museum Purchase. L11.16

FRAME|WORK: An imperial tea service by Peter Carl Fabergé

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature an exquisite tea service from Russia made by Peter Carl Fabergé currently on view at the Legion of Honor.

FRAME|WORK: A vessel in the shape of a lion from ancient Anatolia

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature an ancient terracotta drinking vessel in the shape of a lion from Turkey, currently on view at the Legion of Honor.

Conserving Louise Nevelson’s "Ocean Gate"

As a follow up to our last post about the conservator’s role in dealing with artistic intent, the Objects Conservation Department has been working with outdoor sculpture contractors from Tracy Power Conservation to conserve the Louise Nevelson sculpture Ocean Gate. The sculpture is located at the south corner of the Osher Sculpture Garden at the de Young.


Louise Nevelson (American, 1900–1988)
Ocean Gate, 1982
Aluminum and black paint
145 11/16 x 81 7/8 x 68 1/8 in.
Museum purchase, gift of Barbro and Bernard A. Osher, 2002.72a-f

FRAME|WORK: A seven-headed bush spirit from Nigeria

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature a life-size sculpture depicting a Nigerian bush spirit, currently on view in the African gallery at the de Young.


Shrine figure or bush spirit with seven heads, 20th century
Nigeria, Cross River, Ijo people
Wood, glass eyes, paint
172.7 x 35.6 x 45.7 cm (68.5 x 14.5 x 18 in.)
Museum purchase, gift of Phyllis C. Wattis and the Phyllis C. Wattis Fund for Major Accessions
2004.93

FRAME|WORK: Third Class Carriage by Honorè Daumier

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, a painting by Honorè Daumier depicts an activity with which we are all too familiar: the commute. Third Class Carriage (Un Wagon de Troissieme Classe) is currently on display at the Legion of Honor in Gallery 17.


Honorè Daumier (French, 1808–1879)
Third Class Carriage (Un Wagon de Troisieme Classe), 1856–1858
Oil on panel
10 1/4 x 13 3/8 (26 x 33.9 cm)
Museum purchase, Whitney Warren, Jr. Bequest Fund in memory of Mrs. Adolph B. Spreckels, Bequest funds of Henry S. Williams in memory of H.K.S. Williams, Magnin Income Fund, Art Trust Fund, Alexander and Jean de Bretteville Fund, Art Acquisition Endowment Income Fund in honor of Mrs. John N. Rosekrans, 1996.51

Pulp Fashion Goes Pop!

The art of Isabelle de Borchgrave is in itself a type of recycling. Inspired by sumptuous costume and textiles from the past, de Borchgrave recreates some of history’s most iconic fashions in the surprising medium of paper. Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave, on view at the Legion of Honor through June 12, displays paper outfits derived from those seen in European paintings, museum collections, photographs, sketches and even literary descriptions. De Borchgrave’s art practice seems particularly relevant in today’s conservation-minded climate in which “recycle and reuse” has become a mantra for artists and fashionistas alike.

Paper fashion was not always associated with such principled objectives. In the late 1960s, when de Borchgrave was just beginning her career, paper dresses captured the cultural zeitgeist not only for their pithy design and novelty, but specifically for their disposability.

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