Week Fifty Two

Christo/Jeanne-Claude/Music/Titian

Posted in Uncategorized by sarahbakerhansen on 18 September 2008

I was one of the 700 people who packed the Kaneko on Tuesday night to see Christo and Jeanne-Claude make their return to Omaha. I have to say, Jeanne-Claude was just as, shall we say, gregarious in person as she was during the interview process I went through with her and Christo. Still, even with her jabs at the media that peppered the lecture, I enjoyed attending the talk: the work, as it were, is beautiful. I think the best moment of the night was when Christo flipped a slide to their 1997-98 project “Wrapped Trees,” and the audience – quite literally – gasped.

Take a look. (And click on any of the photos below for a closer look.)

Read more about this project, and all their other work, at www.christojeanneclaude.net.

I’m in Lincoln for the next few days, staying with some future family members and going to see some shows as part of the Lincoln Calling music festival, which my friend Jeremy Buckley puts on each year. Last night we saw Manny Coon, Neva Dinova and Eagle Seagull at the Rococco Theater. After that show ended, a new band called the Knots played outdoors, on top of the old fashioned, theater marquee sign outside downtown Lincoln’s State Theater. Buckley’s creativity showed in this setup, and it was a sight to see a band rocking on top of a huge triangular sign and a big crowd lining the other side of the street to see the elevated stage. Tonight we’re planning to see the Killigans and Forty Twenty play inside the state theater. I’m hoping to make a stop at the Sheldon this afternoon – in college, I spent many an afternoon in its sculpture garden and contemplating the wonderful collection of contemporary art.

Next weekend – Sept. 27 – is the Smithsonian Magazine’s annual Museum Day, and three museums in Omaha are participating in the event: the Durham Museum, the Joslyn and the Strategic Air and Space Museum on exit 426 between Lincoln and Omaha. It’s the perfect opportunity to check out Joslyn’s newly restored work by Titian that just returned to the museum from the Getty Museum’s conservation center in Los Angeles.

The 475-year old work by Venetian painter Titian has been gone for 11 months after being accepted to the J. Paul Getty Museum’s Conservation Partnerships Program in Oct. 2007. The program allows conservation of important works of art owned by other museums to be undertaken at no cost, with the provision that they are displayed at the Getty for a period of time after treatment. Titian’s portrait of Giorgio Cornaro was on view at the Los Angeles-based Getty from March through August 2008.

The portrait has suffered considerably in the hundreds of years since it was painted. Over time bits of paint have flaked away, colors have changed, the canvas has deteriorated, and varnish, applied over a painting to protect it, discolored, clouding and obscuring the image. The best intentions of restorers and previous owners contributed to further damage. At the Getty’s painting conservation studio, Mark Leonard, chief conservator, performed straightforward but painstaking work on the portrait, transforming it. Before conservation the painting was considered a tired example of the work of a great artist: the merits of Titian’s genius were hidden primarily behind a muddy varnish. With Titian’s colors, his profound use of lights and shades, and his great sensitivity to the character of his sitter again revealed, Joslyn’s portrait of Giorgio Cornaro takes its place as one of the finest works of the Italian Renaissance in an American museum.

Here’s the work before conservation, in the studio with another Titian work. The Joslyn’s piece is on the left.

Here’s two images of the piece during the conservation process. Amy Rummel, Joslyn’s spokeswoman, told me the work was stripped of all prior touch ups, leaving only the work done by Titian’s hand.

And the final result. Before the conservator did his work, he sealed Titian’s original from the touch-ups. Now, the new work is in its own layer and could be washed off in the future without damaging the original piece.

Photos of “Wrapped Trees” courtesy Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Web site. Photos of Joslyn’s restored Titian, courtesy Joslyn Art Museum.

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  1. […] “Mastaba.” The event, which I was writing about for the Omaha Reader and blogged about here, marked the end of my time working with them; I remember what happened before that much more than […]


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