FAMSF Blog

Marvelous Menagerie Unmasked

In 1996 construction workers accidentally uncovered a mosaic while widening a road in the modern Israeli town of Lod, near Tel Aviv. A preliminary excavation immediately conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) revealed that three feet below the modern surface there was a mosaic floor dating to about AD 300. The three most complete and impressive panels from the floor are on view at the Legion of Honor through July 24.

Mosaic floor central panel, Roman, ca. AD 300. Excavated at Lod (Lydda), Israel. Stone tesserae. Israel Antiquities Authority and the Shelby White and Leon Levy Lod Mosaic Center. Image courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

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FRAME|WORK: Ponds and Streams by Wayne Thiebaud

FRAME|WORK is a new weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week we feature a landscape painted by one of our marquee artists, Wayne Thiebaud.

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Mother’s Day with the Mother Culture!
Olmec Stela

Come celebrate Mother’s Day with the mother culture of Mesoamerica—the Olmec!

It seems fitting that the last opportunity to visit our exhibition on the Olmec is this Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 8th. Often referred to as the “mother culture” of Mesoamerica, the Olmec were a lasting influence on Mesoamerican art, culture and civilization. And, like any good mom, their influence is clear in the subsequent, or epi-Olmec, cultures that came after them. Come celebrate with your mom, and make sure to visit the handful of female representations that are here with the exhibition.

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Will Work for Art: Rich Rice

"Will Work for Art" takes you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums possible. Rich Rice, the AV/IT Coordinator, is about as behind-the-scenes as you can get! Originally from Connecticut, Rich has been with the Museums for 15 years (he thinks).

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The Conservator’s Role in Honoring Artistic Intent
Al Farrow, The Spine and Tooth of Santo Guerro, 2007

When objects conservators design a treatment for a corroded sculpture, they often have to grapple with the issue of the artist’s intent.

For instance, would Henry Moore at age 29, who made a sculpture with a shiny metallic surface, be in agreement with Henry Moore at 75, who, when interviewed about a treatment, stated that he quite liked the idea that surfaces went green, dry and streaky with time?

One way a conservator can help tease out these contradictions is to interview contemporary artists about the materials and techniques they use and then record how these artists would like their sculptures cared for in the future. At the Fine Arts Museums we are developing a database tracking this information for contemporary sculpture under our care.

Artist Al Farrow with his sculpture The Spine and Tooth of Santo Guerro previously on view at the de Young
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Cutting Edge Photography Technique Comes to the de Young!

My name is Sue Grinols and as the director of photo services and imaging, I witness the intersection of art and technology on a daily basis. This is an exciting time to be working in photography. Just seeing how technology is changing the field can be breathtaking, not to mention challenging.

Photographing artwork is a sub-specialty of studio photography. Here at the Museums, we use the same equipment and techniques as photographers who produce beautiful images of cars, perfume bottles, leather couches, and the perfectly grilled steak. But instead of trying to capture the steak’s sizzle or the couch’s inviting warmth, we attempt to bring out the essential character of the artwork while emphasizing its sublime beauty whenever possible. When we’re not doing that, we can make images that show the hard, cold details of an object in order to help conservators as they work through treating the artwork, or to help curators in their scholarly study of an object. It is this second type of photography that I want to blog about today.

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