Facebook Live— Unrolling History: The Final Paintings
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After nearly seven years of ongoing efforts, the Museum completed the inventory of its entire painting collection on Monday, November 5. The final canvases in the world’s most intact public collection of an American artist—which includes more than 3,400 works of art, all hidden from history for more than 30 years following Clyfford Still’s death in 1980—were unrolled, examined, and catalogued that day at 1 p.m.
The vast majority of the paintings housed at the Clyfford Still Museum came to Denver rolled on various-size tubes by the artist himself.
Museum staff members managed to unroll and document more than 500 of Still’s paintings in the Museum’s first four years, and the Museum exhibited approximately 275 paintings by its fifth anniversary in fall 2016. As the number of inventoried paintings increased over the years, however, so too have the conservation issues. Masking tape, cotton fibers, corroded staples, and barn detritus have adhered to certain canvases; a chemical reaction known as fatty-acid bloom appears in some instances, as does the formation of so-called metal soaps; the bleeding of oil media onto bare canvas has created forms the artist likely did not intend; and paint that was still wet—decades after Still applied it—has been drying unevenly. No one knows which issues (if any) are present on a painting until it’s unrolled and examined for the first time.
Check out the video below for more on conservation at CSM. See you on Facebook Live!