May 14th, 2013 § § permalink
This steel plate engraving and mezzotint illustrates the hazard of utilizing acidic backing materials when housing artwork. In this case, wooden slats were originally utilized. Looking closely, one can observe the acidic staining patterns in the sheet that follow the edges of the slats and the knots in the wood.
After the inks on the surface were tested for stability, the staining was reversed by cleaning and bathing the artwork and giving the artwork a thorough surface cleaning. The artwork was then strengthened with sizing and dried under weight for a period of days, gradually wicking out all the remaining moisture in the paper.
Josey Steel Plate Engraving Before Conservation
Josey Steel Plate Engraving After Conservation
May 14th, 2013 § § permalink
This ink drawing by Max Beckman exhibited severe staining about the margin caused by a wood pulp face mat. The artwork had also been stained throughout due to improper housing in an acidic environment. Pressure sensitive tapes had been applied to the verso, causing additional localized staining.
To treat the artwork, first all pigments were tested for stability. Once the pigments were found to be stable, the paper tapes were removed with methyl cellulose and the pressure sensitive tapes and resultant staining were removed with a gentle solvent on a cold-suction vacuum table. The artwork was then gently cleaned and rinsed to remove any remaining staining. To complete the process, the paper was strengthened with sizing and then flattened under weight for a number of days.
Max Beckman Ink Drawing Before Conservation
Max Beckman Ink Drawing After Conservation
April 4th, 2013 § § permalink
This Antique miniature on ivory had become detached from its mount over time. Because of its loose state, multiple pigment losses around the margin of the miniature had occurred over time. The soft batting and silk liner had also decayed over time.
Woodbury Miniature Before Conservation
The miniature was treated with a gentle surface cleaning, all pigment losses were replaced around the margin of the ivory element, the ivory was reattached to the interior of the locket with heat-activated, archival adhesives, and the decayed silk batting and liner was completely replaced to protect the miniature from further deterioration and lend a finished look to the antique.
Woodbury Miniature After Conservation
October 25th, 2012 § § permalink
A landmark located in the center of the pioneer riverfront town of Maysville, Kentucky, the Cox Building was originally built in 1886 as a Masonic Lodge. In November, 2009, the building was engulfed by fire causing extensive damage to the entire structure.
An evaluation by Oppenheimer Art Recovery begun in December 2010 determined that the original murals painted on the walls on the third floor could not be saved and a year-long process to recreate them ensued. To accurately perform the work, extensive research was done into traditional Masonic symbols like the hourglass, beehive, and Maltese cross that were photographically documented as parts of the mural artwork in the Cox building. The elaborate Masonic motifs decorating the walls and ceiling of the Blue Lodge Room, which measures 40 feet by 50 feet, and The Asylum Room, measuring 40 feet by 73 feet were meticulously restored by Oppenheimer Art Recovery.
To the delight of all gathered, the Cox Building was officially re-dedicated on September 7, 2012 before a crowd of 500 people.
September 28th, 2011 § § permalink
In addition to our Natural History artwork offerings, Joel Oppenheimer, Inc. also employs a full staff of art conservators. We perform conservation work for private collectors, galleries, and museums from around the country who send us paintings, photographs, and all manner of works on paper. The artwork we conserve surveys a broad range of genres from Andy Warhol, to Ansel Adams.
Currently, three of our senior conservation staff have a group show of their individual work at the Architrouve gallery in Chicago featuring the works of Christina Haglid, Dan Gamble, and James Stephens. All three conservators have been with Joel Oppenheimer, Inc. for over a decade and the same fine attention to detail that is present in their conservation work is on display in their own work. I encourage any fan of contemporary art and detailed conservation work to view the show in person. Meticulous Detail runs through November 18th.
JOI Senior Conservator Christina Haglid
Christina Haglid’s Paintings
Senior Conservator Dan Gamble and his painting.
The artwork of Dan Gamble.
Architrouve co-owner Darci O’Connell and artwork of Dan Gamble
JOI conservator Geoffry Smalley
Conservator’s James Stephens and Susan.
James Stephens and his artwork.
April 29th, 2011 § § permalink
Uncolored Havell Plate 351 "Great Cinereous Owl"
We have newly acquired a very unusual Havell print. It is plate 351 “Great Cinereous Owl” in an uncolored state. Over the years we have encountered and conserved a number of uncolored Havell prints for collectors. This particular print bears the signatures of Maria and Florence Audubon on the verso; they dated their signatures 1920. Maria died in 1925. This clearly identifies this print as having descended directly through the Audubon family. I believe that Maria and Florence, John Woodhouse Audubon’s daughters, were the last family members to carry the Audubon name. This print is a remarkable example. It is untrimmed, showing the full deckled edge of the hand-made Whatman paper. It was never bound and is a very early impression, maybe the first, made from the copper plate. If anyone can lend an insight to further advance our knowledge about this print your input is welcome.
Audubon's Granddaughter's signatures on Verso
April 27th, 2011 § § permalink
John James Audubon Pl. 251 - Brown Pelican
The exhibition Birds of America, Audubon Prints from the Shelburne Museum opened at the Grand Rapids Museum of Art (GRAM) on April 14th, 2011 and I had the the privilege of attending. The show will be on display through August 14th, 2011
The Grand Rapids Art Museum is a modern architectural marvel. Designed by Kulapat Yantrasast as the world’s first LEED Gold Certified Museum, architectural critic Cathleen McGuigan cited the structure as one of the world’s six best new buildings in the Newsweek Article “Well Built”. The modern structure houses important works by many modern masters such as an immense Ellsworth Kelly and a gleaming orange Calder sculpture. The GRAM served as a unique juxtaposition against the antique Audubon engravings in both its structure and the company it provided the prints.
Beginning my journey to the exhibition, I moved through the GRAM toward a series of steps leading me up to the second floor exhibition space. Shining at the top of the steps, like butlers in starched bow ties and white gloves, greeting guests for a formal ball, were two large Audubon Havell prints. They were dressed in early American-style 22k gilt frames and simple, elegant white mats. Resplendent in their frames, the prints were surprisingly at home sharing space with a gleaming orange Calder sculpture. Upon reflection, of course Audubon and Calder work in symphonic harmony in the same space, both men’s work are some of the most recognizable and influential in America.
As I looked left, large gallery walls loomed a light green grey, reminiscent of colors seen in interior Federalist era homes. I was informed by Dr. Axsom that the intent is to evoke a sense of time and place, the color an interior wall hue present during Audubon’s life. Entering the gallery space, a map guided me through Audubon’s travels as he executed each bird drawing on display. The well-spaced prints are presented in cherry wood frames, again a nod to materials available in 19th Century America.
A second companion space gives dimension to Audubon and his life’s work by displaying his lesser known editions while jointly hinting at the arduous task of producing Birds of America. Items rounding out the exhibit include an early Bien Edition set of Audubon’s Birds of America, on loan from Joel Oppenheimer, Inc., a printing press, a volume from an Octavo set signed by Audubon, Octavo uncolored proof prints, and a large screen displaying all 474 of Audubon’s original drawings (Courtesy of the New-York Historical Society).
As a final delicious treat, Dr. Axsom gave a brilliant lecture on Audubon’s Birds of America, eliciting laughs and a few “ooohs” and “ahhhs”. GRAM has done a wonderful job of revisiting the wonder of Audubon with new eyes in a fresh space.
- Jennifer Tobits, Director of Conservation and Framing
John James Audubon Pl. 251 – Brown Pelican
March 17th, 2011 § § permalink
Robert Rauschenberg, Stoned Moon Series: Sky Garden, 1969 Lithograph, 89x42 inches.
Exhibition: Thursday, May 5 through Saturday May 7 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, May 8 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Joel Oppenheimer, Inc.
410. North Michigan Ave.
Please click here to view the .pdf invite.
In the summer of 2010, Steve Dull approached Joel Oppenheimer, Inc. to conserve and frame an extended series of prints by Robert Rauschenberg. Mr. Dull, a corporate executive in Greensboro, North Carolina, is a noted collector who, over a period of nearly thirty years, has assembled a nationally recognized collection of American prints. He has sought to acquire the best works by major artists who emerged for recognition in the 1960s: notably Chuck Close, Jim Dine, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Ed Ruscha, Frank Stella, and Andy Warhol.
The series in question is Rauschenberg’s Stoned Moon Series that the artist created in the late 1960s. At this time, Rauschenberg had achieved an international reputation. Soon to be considered one of the most important American artists of the twentieth century, he worked in a broad range of media. Rauschenberg was a painter, sculptor, draftsman, photographer, performance artist, choreographer, theater designer, and printmaker. His extensive work in printmaking—which covered a period of nearly 60 years—is a defining contribution to the history of the modern print.
In July of 1969, Rauschenberg was invited by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to witness the launch of the Apollo 11 spacecraft on Cape Canaveral at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This was the beginning of the successful mission that fulfilled President John F. Kennedy’s promise to the nation eight years earlier to land Americans on the Moon by the end of the decade. After returning to New York from Florida, Rauschenberg decided to create a response to the event in the form of an extended print series of thirty-four lithographs. He traveled to Los Angeles to produce the series in collaboration with Gemini, G.E.L., the celebrated publishing workshop. Space exploration had been a major theme in Rauschenberg’s art during the 1960s. Its ultimate statement was the Stoned Moon Series.
The lithographs of the Stoned Moon Series are a printed collage of official photographs from NASA’s archive—including space rockets, astronauts, engineering diagrams, and maps—and transfer rubbings drawn from images of the natural environment and the history of flight from Leonardo da Vinci to the Wright Brothers. In what was characteristic of Rauschenberg’s tendency to juxtapose the artist’s hand with ready-made imagery, the prints of the Stoned Moon Series incorporate lithographic brushstrokes and drawing that embellish the photolithographic images. Technically innovative, the series contains what at the time were the largest lithographs ever made, Sky Garden and Waves, which measure nearly seven-feet high.
The Stoned Moon Series is Rauschenberg’s personal reaction to the moon shot and the global and historical implications of Apollo 11’s achievement. Not a straightforward documentary, the series is Rauschenberg’s poetic read of American history that is instilled with triumphalism, wit, tragedy, and complex perspectives on nature and man’s place in the universe. It is a cohesive work of art in its unity of purpose. The resulting achievement is an epic narrative tracing the American space program through the 1960s to the summer of 1969. In its technical inventiveness, grand scale, layered meanings, and evocative collisions of idea, brushstroke, and photographic image, the Stoned Moon Series figures among the great print series of the last century.
Richard H. Axsom
February 21, 2011
As part of the flattening process, linen hinges as well as residual yellowed adhesive were removed from the perimeter of several prints from Robert Rauschenberg’s Stoned Moon Series. Generalized discoloration due to contact with previous acidic materials was diminished from selected prints. Cockling and minor handling crimps were reduced using wet flattening methods. Prints were de-acidified, as needed, to neutralize pH levels.
Noted art collector Stephen Dull chose welded aluminum frames in a polished finish for his collection of 32 Rauschenberg prints from the Stoned Moon Series. Richard Axsom, distinguished art historian, curator, and author of the upcoming catalogue raisonné on Robert Rauschenberg's prints, was present to assist in the frame selection and overall presentation. The prints are floated on white 100% rag lignin-free ragboard using mulberry hinges and a starch-based adhesive. To glaze each piece, a state-of-the-art glazing material, Optium Acrylic®, was employed. Optium Acrylic is an anti-reflective, anti-static, clear-coated acrylic product with 99% UV protection. To allow for moisture evaporation, a 1/2”-deep spacer was placed between the glazing and mount.