Conservation

What's the Matter: Conserving the Sculpture of Stephen De Staebler

Matter + Spirit: The Sculpture of Stephen De Staebler presents the work of an artist who used a variety of materials ranging from metal to clay to create lasting works of art. Working with stoneware and sometimes porcelain, De Staebler built monumental sculptures that pushed the limits of the media and extended the boundaries of how these materials had been used in the past.

Standing Woman and Standing Man, 1975

Stephen De Staebler, Standing Woman and Standing Man, 1975. Pigmented stoneware and porcelain with surface oxides. Courtesy of Paul Thiebaud Gallery, San Francisco. Artwork © Estate of Stephen De Staebler.

Bird Bath: The Conservation of a William Morris Textile

The British Aesthetic Movement, which is the subject of the upcoming exhibition The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde 1860–1900 opening at the Legion of Honor on February 18, promoted the integration of beauty and art into every aspect of life. William Morris (1834–1896) was a chief proponent of the Aesthetic Movement and contributed luxe designs for wallpaper, carpets, tiles, and furniture. His career as a textiles designer, however, quickly surpassed his involvement with all other areas of artistic production.

Bird wall hanging, 1878

William Morris (English, 1834–1896). Bird wall hanging, 1878 (detail). Wool jacquard woven doublecloth. Museum purchase, Art Trust Fund. 1996.47

Monet's Water Lilies Returns to the Legion of Honor!

Claude Monet’s incomparable Water Lilies has returned to Gallery 19 at the Legion of Honor! Following its display in two important temporary exhibitions, Water Lilies visited the Fine Arts Museums’ paintings conservation laboratory. In celebration of Monet’s birthday today, here is a behind-the-scenes look at the painting’s whereabouts over the past year.

Will Work for Art: Natasa Morovic

"Will Work for Art" takes you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums work. This week we take you into the intriguing world of frame conservation to meet Natasa Morovic (imagine an “h” after the “s” in her first name, and after the “c” in her last name, and you get the right pronunciation). Natasa is the associate frames conservator working in Paintings Conservation. Originally from Slovenia, she has worked with the Museums for fourteen years!

The Truth about Alabaster

You may have heard the term alabaster used to describe the pristine skin of a beautiful woman or the smooth surface of statue, as in the case of The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy, on view at the Legion of Honor through December 31.

Jean de La Huerta and Antoine le Moiturier. Mourner no. 55, mourner with head uncovered, wiping his tears on his cloak with his right hand, 1443–1456/57. Alabaster. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon. Photo © FRAME (French Regional and American Museum Exchange) by Jared Bendis and François JAY.

The Kilims Are Coming!

In anticipation of The Art of the Anatolian Kilim: Highlights from the McCoy Jones Collection (which opens September 10) the Textiles Conservation team is busy at work preparing each rug for display. It is a meticulous and time-consuming process!

First, the kilims have to be taken out of storage. Normal cardboard contains acid that can cause staining on textiles, which is why kilims are rolled onto blue, acid-free cardboard tubes for storage.To avoid harm from dust, the tubes are shrouded in unbleached cotton fabric.

Conservation Treatment of a Monumental Print

A monumental 17th-century etching/engraving by the artist Jacques Callot is currently on view in the Jacqueline and Peter Hoefer Print Study Room at the Legion of Honor. In addition to a dramatic naval battle scene, the print depicts many fascinating details of daily life, which are visible upon close inspection. Although the print was acquired by the museums in 1968, it had never been exhibited due to condition issues.

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.

Under Wraps: The furniture at the Legion gets custom-made covers

For the last several months, Textile Conservation volunteers Kathy Murphy, Jean Scardina, intern Erica Storm and Objects Conservation volunteer Tegan Broderick have all been hard at work making covers for the furniture stored at the Legion of Honor. While most of the chairs were already stored beneath loose-fitting pieces of cloth, custom covers provide the objects with better protection from light and dust. Clearly labeled covers also facilitate quick identification of the objects underneath and prevent unnecessary handling.

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

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