Posts Tagged ‘abstract painting’
As many of you may know, WAM recently loaned Woman by Willem de Kooning (1949-1950, oil on canvas) to the Musem of Modern Art’s blockbuster exhibition de Kooning: A Retrospective (September 18, 2011–January 9, 2012). As is common among many museums lending artworks to exhibitions at other institutions, one condition of this loan was that a courier must accompany the artwork to and from the MoMA. The role of a courier is to ensure that an artwork travels safely to its destination, to monitor the unpacking and installation of the work, and to closely inspect the work’s condition to make sure that it has not been affected by the rigors of travel. The Registrars Committee of the American Association of Museums even has a “Code of Practice for Couriering Museum Objects.” I was pleased to serve as the courier for the return of the work but also a bit nervous, knowing the responsibilities it entailed. My worries manifested in concerns of slipping on an icy New York sidewalk and rendering myself unable to perform my courier duties.
Arrangements were made for me to fly to New York and report to MoMA following the close of the exhibition. After providing the proper credentials, I was escorted by the exhibition’s registrar into the gallery where Woman hung, surrounded by other works from de Kooning’s second Woman series. Our Woman more than held her own amongst the other ‘gals’. Crates were staged along the floor and I quickly recognized the crate for our painting standing nearby. A few other couriers were working in various areas of the gallery and overseeing their works being packed. I was assigned to one of the painting conservators working on the exhibition who, coincidentally, had examined Woman upon her arrival with Registrar Heather Moore back in August.
Together we closely examined the work, referencing the condition report created prior to the painting’s departure from the Weatherspoon. A condition report is a document containing images and detailed notes about the condition of a work (i.e. cracks in paint, marks, abrasions, etc.). After examining the painting and the frame we jointly concluded that there had been no changes to the condition of the work since its arrival at MoMA. I was happy to learn from the conservator that Woman was in good condition in relation to other de Kooning works from this time period. Once we were finished with the condition report a team of two preparators (museum professionals whose duties include handling and installing artwork) packed the work into its crate while I observed. The crate was custom designed by a fine arts crater to protect the work during travel. After Woman was packed securely in the crate I reviewed the schedule and arrangements with the MoMA staff for the next leg of Woman’s journey via fine arts shipper.
I reported back to the MoMA the next day to observe the crate being moved by the MoMA preparators through the museum and onto the fine art shipper’s awaiting vehicle. Trucks and vans used in fine arts shipping are typically outfitted with environmental controls (including temperature and humidity regulation), air ride and other security measures and are manned by two drivers. After the crate was loaded, strapped into place, and the doors to the vehicle secured, locked, and alarmed, I joined the two drivers as we set forth on our way back south.
The eleven hour ride home was fortunately fairly uneventful except for some very heavy rain in Virginia. As we drew closer to Greensboro I was in contact with WAM staff on the other end who were patiently awaiting our arrival. The painting was quickly and carefully offloaded and moved into our secure storage, where it remained crated for at least 24 hours to allow it to acclimatize. This is done so the temperature and humidity of the surrounding air and the microclimate existing in the crate slowly and gradually adjust so as not to cause any drastic changes that would cause damage to a work (i.e. a canvas expanding and contracting due to severe humidity changes). After the acclimatization period our preparators unpacked the work and it was examined again using the condition report. We were pleased and relieved to find that Woman had travelled safely to and from New York.
You’ll have a chance to welcome Woman home when she goes on view in Highlights of the Permanent Collection this fall.
Posted by Myra Scott, Assistant Registrar, Weatherspoon Art Museum
During the bustle of the holidays, it’s easy to lose track of important news events. The death of pioneering post-World War II artist, Helen Frankenthaler on December 27 may have been such an event, but her achievements deserve to be acknowledged.
Beginning in 1952 Frankenthaler took abstract art in a new direction by pouring thinned paint directly onto unprimed canvases. Applauded for its lyricism and luminous color, Frankenthaler’s work not only gave rise to the Color Field movement, but also has remained vital throughout the years.
Frankenthaler was equally talented as a printmaker, and the Weatherspoon is privileged to own a 34-color Ukiyo-e style woodcut entitled Snow Pines, 2004. The art world definitely has lost a significant talent.
Image: Helen Frankenthaler, Snow Pines, 2004, 34-color Ukiyo-e style woodcut, Ed. 6 out of 65, 37 1/2 x 26 in. Museum purchase with funds from the Weatherspoon Art Museum Acquisition Endowment, the Louise D. and Herbert S. Falk Acquisition Endowment, the Lynn Richardson Prickett Acquisition Endowment, the Weatherspoon Guild Acquisition Endowment, and a bequest by Hubert Humphrey, 2011.
Read about this new WAM acquisition in our Winter newsletter on page 9 here.
Wikipedia article about Frankenthaler.
More photos of Helen and her work on the blog Habitually Chic.
And more on the site TheArtStory.org.
Hans Hofmann video from the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University.
Michael Rush will be speaking at the Weatherspoon on October 5, 2010, 5:30-6:30pm.
Be sure to take a few moments to view the documentary Hans Hofmann: artist/teacher, teacher/artist while viewing the current Hofmann exhibition at the Weatherspoon.