Daphne Barbour, senior object conservator; Melanie Gifford, research conservator; Lisha Glinsman, conservation scientist; Alison Luchs, curator of early European sculpture; and Kimberly Schenck, head of paper conservation, National Gallery of Art. FACTURE: Conservation · Science · Art History is a new biennial journal from the National Gallery of Art that introduces the latest research on works in its permanent collection. Named for “the manner in which things are made,” the journal presents essays on conservation treatment, scientific research, and technical art history. This study undertaken at the Gallery focuses on artists' methods and materials—identifying the materials used by artists, understanding the ways in which different artists handled these materials, and discerning how to preserve the qualities the artists prized. In honor of the inaugural volume, this lecture recorded on January 12, 2014, focuses on Renaissance masterworks—painting, sculpture, textiles, and works on paper—in the Gallery's collection.
Shelley Sturman, senior conservator and head of the department of object conservation, National Gallery of Art. On the 100th anniversary of the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial dedication in Boston, artist Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ original plaster version of the bronze memorial was transferred to the National Gallery of Art for full conservation treatment. On long-term loan from the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, New Hampshire, the magisterial Shaw Memorial (1883-1900) was previously restored many times and no longer resembled the artist’s original intentions. In this lecture recorded on January 15, 2014, conservator Shelley Sturman reveals the long process of removing the nearly 12-by-18-foot relief sculpture from a concrete block wall, radiographing the sections, repairing cracks, analyzing the materials, preparing the appropriate decorative surface, realigning segments, and designing an appropriate mounting system for display in Washington; this treatment was performed by a team of conservators from Boston, the National Park Service, and the Gallery. Installation at the Gallery marks the ninth time that the Shaw Memorial has been dismantled and reassembled. An exhibition honoring the memorial and its inspiration on 20th- and 21st-century artists titled Tell It with Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens' Shaw Memorial is on view through January 20, 2014.
Sarah Greenough, senior curator and head of the department of photographs, National Gallery of Art; Nancy Anderson, curator and head of the department of American and British paintings, National Gallery of Art; Lindsay Harris, research associate, department of photographs, National Gallery of Art; Renée Ater, associate professor of art history and director of academic programs, University of Maryland, College Park. To celebrate the exhibition opening of Tell It with Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens' Shaw Memorial on September 15, 2013, the curators and catalogue authors discuss the individual stories and photographic portraits of the soldiers in the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, as well as those of the men and women who recruited, nursed, taught, and guided them. On view through January 20, 2014, the exhibition considers the legacy of the 54th and the Battle of Fort Wagner in art, examining nineteenth century efforts to memorialize those who fought, including early works by African American artists Edward Bannister and Edmonia Lewis in addition to Saint-Gaudens’ development of the Shaw Memorial itself. The lecture concludes with the continuing inspiration that the 54th, its defining battle, and the Shaw Memorial have been for twentieth and twenty-first century artists as diverse as Richard Benson, Ed Hamilton, Lewis Hine, Carrie Mae Weems, and William Earle Williams.
Ann Hoenigswald, Senior Conservator
Tom Learner, head of modern and contemporary art research, Getty Conservation Institute, in conversation with artist De Wain Valentine. The International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art—North America (INCCA—NA), working together with the National Gallery of Art and the Getty Conservation Institution, presented From Start to Finish: The Story of “Gray Column” on July 16, 2013, at the Gallery. This 30-minute documentary recounts the remarkable story behind the making of De Wain Valentine's Gray Column, a stunning large-scale polyester sculpture. The film follows the piece from its original concept to its display at the Getty Center for Valentine's exhibition during Pacific Standard Time, the 2011 Getty initiative to celebrate the birth of the Los Angeles art scene. Following the film, Tom Learner and De Wain Valentine discuss the creation of this monumental work of art and his thoughts on approaches to its conservation. This program is part of INCCA—NA’s Voice of the Artist series.