When the J. Paul Getty Museum received twenty-eight sculptures created by a who's who of twentieth-century artists, it took on the responsibility for their preservation, interpretation, and long-term stewardship. Donated from the private collection of the late film producer Ray Stark and his wife, Fran, the sculptures thrust the Getty into the evolving field of outdoor sculpture conservation. To honor its responsibility, the Museum embarked on new research into the collection's materialsbronze, lead, ceramic, and painted metaland construction techniques.
This book presents the conservators' comprehensive account of the process. Chapters are organized around phases of the project rather than individual sculptures and address key issues facing anyone charged with caring for works of art displayed outdoors, including: organization and planning; installation and grounds management; scientific analyses; collaborating with artists; structural issues; mounts, paint, coatings, and patinas; and long-term maintenance.
Brian Considine is head of the Department of Decorative Arts and Sculpture Conservation at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Julie Wolfe and Katrina Posner are associate conservator and assistant conservator, respectively, in the same department. Michel Bouchard is assistant scientist in the Collections Research Lab of the Getty Conservation Institute.
Featured in The New York Times, June 24, 2010:
Getty Center conservators faced worse inherent vices in 28 outdoor sculptures donated by the movie producer Ray Stark. Mostly bronze and steel works by abstractionists like Calder and Moore, the gifts came with weak joints, mysterious crystal pustules and disfiguring black wax coatings.
In Conserving Outdoor Sculpture: The Stark Collection at the Getty Center (Getty Publications), staff members detail how they hoisted sculptures along rooftops and terraces and made pedestals to withstand earthquakes. Plantings are designed to keep visitors away from glossy surfaces that show fingerprints, and cleaning the corroded metal has required chemicals so hazardous that workers wear nitrile gloves and Tyvek bodysuits.
"These suits do not breathe well, so frequent breaks and plenty of drinking water" are needed, writes Scott Fife, the Getty Trust's senior safety officer.
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