Posts Tagged ‘modern art’
Curator of Education Ann Grimaldi and volunteer docent Kate Barrett lead a discussion with UNCG Teacher Education majors in Kinesiology on the “Art of Observation.” Dr. Barrett, retired UNCG professor emerita in Kinesiology (formerly Exercise and Sport Science), and Grimaldi created the program three years ago to aid students in academic areas where observation is crucial such as in gymnasiums and playing fields.
Using works of art on view at the Weatherspoon Art Museum, students practice an awareness of their observation habits through processes like scanning, detail recognition, organization and analysis of visual data. Knowing “how to look” and “what to look for” is an essential step in understanding what we see and for physical education teacher education students, it can be critical in assessing students’ motor skill development. Over 160 UNCG students have participated in the program to date, which has been expanded to psychiatric nursing and dietetic nutrition areas.
(Photo above shot in the permanent collection exhibition On the Path to Abstraction: Highlights of the Permanent Collection)
If you visited the Weatherspoon this Fall, you probably witnessed the tell-tale signs of roof repairs, scaffolding and noise. As excited as we were for our twenty-three year old building to get a new roof, we knew we would need to be extra vigilant about protecting works of art in the Sculpture Garden, especially Dan Graham’s Triangular Solid with Circular Inserts. Graham’s glass and mirror sculpture was purchased by the museum for its permanent collection in 2006 and is a favorite with school groups.
Protecting the sculpture required the construction of a special on-site crate consisting of particle board and strengthened by 2x4s that were bolted directly into the courtyard surface. With roof repairs taking longer to complete than planned, WAM staff thought it would be a good opportunity to work with UNCG design students to dress up the temporary wooden cube and give visitors something to experience (rather than weathered particle board) when entering the Sculpture Garden. We approached UNCG faculty Christopher Thomas and Lee Walton about a design competition with participants from their Design 1 and Art 140 classes.
Christopher Thomas adds:
“Responding to a call for proposals from the Weatherspoon to ‘make use’ of the plywood box currently in place over the Dan Graham sculpture protecting it from construction debris, Design I students from my class and Lee Walton’s wrote in. (Cambrin Culp, Lydia Flores, Tiffany Hutchens, Shannon Keller, Lily Musai and CJ Toomer are from my class).
WAM Curator of Collections, Elaine Gustafson, provided us with information on the artist and his work so that students could better understand what his sculptures were about…the idea was to make images in response to the themes in Dan Graham’s work while exploring some basic Design I value and shape problems. So, issues of fragmentation, social disconnect, reflection and environment were some of the departure points for the students’ designs.
Final installation was done using ink jet prints and wheat paste on a gorgeous Fall Friday followed by ham and bean soup in the museum courtyard!”
Students participants from Lee Walton’s Art 140 class: Jenny Bennett, Miguel Cervera, Janelle DeRobertis, Chandler Field, Dray Fountain, and Logan Ritchey.
Visit the museum’s Event Photo page for more images.
Roof construction is finally winding down as work completes after Thanksgiving break. The final detail to complete is the re-installation of the speakers for the Bill Fontana sound work “Spiraling Sound Axis“—which is also a part of the museum’s Sculpture Garden experience. Fontana’s work had to be de-installed during construction. As soon as the Fontana speakers are re-installed our preparators will be able to remove the plywood protection from the Graham sculpture. Visitors will once again be able to enjoy both the Graham sculpture and listen to the Fontana sound installation.
Thank you to the Design 1 and Art 140 students for all their work on this project.
The brief e-mail came to the attention of one of the Weatherspoon’s education curators: someone’s friend had purchased two paintings from the Oak Ridge, NC Goodwill and discovered a Weatherspoon label on the back of one of them. A little research by the lucky purchaser showed that works by one of the artists, Ilya Bolotowsky, command upwards of $25,000. Did the Weatherspoon know anything about how this painting had ended up at Goodwill?
Suffice it to say, the e-mail sent museum staff into its own research mode. Was this really a Bolotowsky, and how did it end up with a Weatherspoon label on it?
My initial thoughts were that the work must have been part of a Weatherspoon fundraising event, from which artworks (not owned by the museum, but created or donated for the event) are purchased by ticket-holders. Or, perhaps it was in an exhibition at the Weatherspoon back in the day. But I definitely did not think it was some mistake, whereby an artwork of ours had escaped the building. Occasionally one hears horror stories of museums accidentally disposing of artworks, but I refused to believe that’s what had happened. I wanted to give our predecessors more credit than that.
Details came to us piecemeal: an image of the front of the canvas, a title (Vertical Diamond), its dimensions, and a label on the back indicating the purchase price was $5500 in 1979. Based on this information, I began to look through our records for events or exhibitions at that time. I discovered that Ilya Bolotowsky (American, b. Russia, 1907-1981) had been in six of the Weatherspoon’s Art on Paper exhibitions, including 1979. All works in Art on Paper are available for purchase, but only works on paper are included in those exhibitions and Vertical Diamond is a painting on canvas.
I looked at the listing of other exhibitions at the Weatherspoon in 1979. Greensboro Collectors was described as a show of “privately owned art works from collectors in and around the city” at the museum from March 25 to April 15, 1979 and included “paintings by Renoir, Corot, Pearlstein, and Bolotowsky.” I thought that had potential, so I went to the storage area where we keep our archived files, to dig around for information on this particular exhibition. Bingo! The painting, Vertical Diamond, was loaned by Burlington Industries to the Weatherspoon for the 1979 Greensboro Collectors show. I found the original loan form in the file, and all of the details matched – title, date of work, dimensions. (This is precisely why we registrars like to keep EVERY sheet of paperwork, ever!)
It was hard to contain my excitement: it seemed that some lucky person had the real deal! But still, how did a painting that was in the collection of Burlington Industries make it to a local thrift shop? Perhaps we’ll never know the painting’s exact itinerary; what is known is that when Burlington Industries filed for bankruptcy and then moved out of its headquarters building on Friendly Avenue in 2004, its collection of artwork was widely disseminated.
So, you’re curious: who made the Goodwill discovery, and what thoughts were running through his or her head at that time?
Well, according to lucky Beth Feeback, she was only at the thrift store to quickly find an extra layer of clothing or a blanket, to help her make it through an unseasonably chilly day of sitting outside, selling her own artwork at the annual spring art show hosted by Leanne Pizio in Oak Ridge. Halfway through the day, Beth jetted over to the Goodwill she had spotted earlier. She found a few items to keep her warm. And then…: “I spied these two HUGE square canvases in frames. I am always on the prowl for something to paint on or paint over. It helps the environment, and better yet, my pocketbook. I am forever buying prints or paintings at thrift stores and either adding to them – by, say, painting a cat head over Pinky’s and Blue Boy’s faces, or by putting a coat of primer on the picture and starting from scratch. I checked the price on these canvases and knew I had to have them at $9.99 each. You couldn’t buy a new canvas a fourth or fifth the size of these for that amount.
The lady at the counter helped me carry them to my beat-up minivan, and we had a hard time getting the larger one in. It was even worse at the end of the art show, packing our gear and pictures in around the two paintings. Before we packed up, I showed the paintings to some of the artists, and Leanne Pizio noticed that one had a label on the back of it indicating it was from the Weatherspoon Art Gallery at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She told me to be sure and do my research before painting over the pieces: ‘The Weatherspoon gets some big-name artists.’”
Beth says it took her a while to get around to researching the artist. When she looked up Ilya Bolotowsky online and saw auction records for his works, she became giddy. “In a perfect world,” she says, “I’d keep it, save it and retire off of it, but I think that will be for someone else of higher means than me.”
Beth has been in touch with Anita Shapolsky Gallery in New York, who represents the deceased artist, and with Sotheby’s auction house. The painting is set to be auctioned at Sotheby’s in September, and in fact, has already made one more leg of its exciting journey, from North Carolina to New York, to await its auction date.
Although Vertical Diamond has left town, a similar painting can be found in the Weatherspoon Art Museum’s collection: Small Diamond.
Or, stop by your local Goodwill. Maybe you’ll get lucky, just like Beth…
Let us know if you do!
—Heather Moore, Registrar, Weatherspoon Art Museum
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