Cutaway: Drawing the Architectural Section

Labacco_2Cutaway: Drawing the Architectural Section

Curator: Teresa Harris
March 14, 2016 – June 17, 2016
Monday – Friday: 9:00am – 5:00pm

By the early sixteenth century, architects had established conventions for depicting the most important aspects of buildings, namely their elevations, plans, and sections. These conventions have continued to the present day, although computer-aided drafting and three-dimensional modeling programs have begun to alter the architect’s relationship to drawing. This exhibition focuses on a single type of drawing – the section – created by cutting a plane through a structure, allowing an architect to evoke the interior spatial complexity of a building. The images range from Palladio’s section of the Villa La Rotonda (1570) to Ólafur Eliasson’s Your House (2006) in which each of the 454 leaves represent a vertical cross-section of the artist’s own house in Copenhagen.

Conservation Partnership: Art Properties and IFA Conservation Center

BT_DT_AD Detail Head

(The statuette before, during, and after conservation)

In Fall 2013, Art Properties began a program with the NYU Institute of Fine Arts Conservation Center to loan objects from Columbia’s art collection to the IFA CC so that students could benefit from object-centered learning. The IFA CC offers graduate degrees to students interested in the technical study and preservation of art and cultural heritage objects, such as paintings, sculpture in all media, and ceramics. Each semester one or more professors from the IFA CC have coordinated with the Curator of Art Properties to select works related to courses taught that semester. Examples to date have included the study and preservation of polychrome wood sculpture, as well as marble and bronze figurines.

This cooperative program has been mutually beneficial for both the IFA CC and Columbia. Students have the opportunity to work hands-on cleaning, stabilizing, and analyzing these objects, under the supervision of their Professor and in consultation with the Curator of Art Properties. Student conservation assessments, reports about each stage of their work, and technical photography are added to the Art Properties curatorial files so that future scholars can learn more about these objects in our collection. Below is one example of the work done by these students; future summaries will be posted over time to spread the word about this successful collaborative educational program. — Roberto C. Ferrari, Curator of Art Properties

Conservation Project & Report by Megan Randall, 2014

Image 2-croppedThe Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception
Probably 18th century, Spanish Colonial Mexico or Mesoamerica
Wood with traces of polychromy and gold leaf, with glass eyes
H. 8 1/2 in. (21.6 cm)
Art Properties, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library
Columbia University in the City of New York
Gift of the Estate of Lola Szladits, 1990 (1990.8.25)

This treatment of the Spanish Colonial Virgin from the 18th century was completed as part of my training in the Polychrome Sculpture seminar with Professor Michele Marincola at the Institute of Fine Arts Conservation Center of New York University. I received the small statuette without any knowledge of its specific historical context or materials. As a result, the amount of information I gained in the examination and technical analysis of the object was significant. Although there are many interesting details of the treatment, research, and analysis of the statuette, this summary will deal with only one aspect of the treatment: the reversal and rejoining of the old repairs in the face of the figure.

Previous repairs to the face were failing. Small flakes of adhesive were loose in the join and the proper right segment of the face was visibly misaligned. In order to restore physical and visual integrity to the work, the adhesive in the join was reversed with ethanol and water and the old adhesive and insect residue on the surfaces were cleaned and slightly contoured to their proper alignment. The reversal of the old join revealed three things: the extent of the (dormant) insect activity in the form of worm holes and larva; the manufacturing method of securing the glass eyes in a ball of resin within a carved socket; and that the join consisted of three pieces instead of the previously-believed one piece.

DT_After Cleaning_HeadThe procedure of reversing the join, cleaning surfaces, and shaping the dry-fit of the three pieces into their proper alignment were completed with time, consideration, and significant restraint in order to achieve the best possible results. The rejoining of the pieces back onto the statuette also had to be done quickly to ensure the adhesive was still tacky. The process was a quick and efficient race of warming the surfaces, adhesive application, and clamping the join. Because this task would only take a minute or less to complete, it was necessary to practice ahead of time the order of the pieces to be adhered and the placement of the clamps so that any kinks in the process were considered and resolved prior to the treatment.

The surfaces were slightly heated with a radiant heat tool to encourage the affinity of the surfaces to the also-warm adhesive. Next, the warm adhesive, a 30% hide glue in distilled water, was applied to the surfaces with a brush, and the pieces were re-adhered to the statuette. Pressure was applied to the joins by using small clamps to ensure that the surfaces were properly connected. The clamps were left in place for 24 hours, then removed and inspected. The success of this phase of the treatment was thrilling. The treatment achieved the goals of restoring physical and visual integrity to the statuette and provided an ideal educational scenario to employ future treatment methods.DT_Clamping Detail

 

Avery Art Properties at the Norton Museum of Art

Stett- Jenny & G- 67_23_27-postconservation

Florine Stettheimer, Jenny and Genevieve, ca. 1915, oil on canvas, 32 x 43 3/8 in. (81.2 x 110.3 cm), Art Properties, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University in the City of New York, Gift of the Estate of Ettie Stettheimer, 1967 (1967.23.27)

Art Properties has loaned six paintings by Florine Stettheimer and a drawing by Marguerite Zorach to the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida, for their current exhibition O’Keeffe, Stettheimer, Torr, Zorach: Women Modernists in New York. This exhibition considers the art and careers of Marguerite Zorach, Florine Stettheimer, Helen Torr, and Georgia O’Keeffe together for the first time. These women all knew one another and worked in New York. They sought to be recognized as artists in their own right, but their identity as women shaped the circumstances under which they worked, the forms their art took, and the way their pictures were interpreted. Among the works on loan from Art Properties is Stettheimer’s vibrantly-colored painting Jenny and Genevieve, which was conserved for this show. In this work the artist explores class and racial distinctions in her depiction of a black servant and a white customer in a cafe.

Spring 2016 Core Architecture Studio II visits

On January 27th, Avery Library welcomed students from the Spring 2016 Core Architecture Studio II in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. This semester, the required studio explores the “architectural form and identity of a 21st-century library” as well as trends in architectural representation.

Teresa Harris, Curator of Classics (Rare Books), with students from the Spring 2016 Core Architecture Studio II

Avery Classics presented a selection of books that a traced the use of section drawings from the Renaissance through to the 21st century. Students viewed numerous examples ranging from the first printed architectural drawing – a perspectival section through a round temple of Venus – in the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (1499) to Pierre Patte’s groundbreaking section of a town street showing sewers and water supplies in addition to the buildings flanking the thoroughfare (1749). The session culminated in Olafur Elliasson’s innovative laser-cut volume reproducing his own house in Copenhagen through a series of vertical cross-sections at a scale of 85:1.

Janet Parks, Curator of Drawings & Archives, with students from the Spring 2016 Core Architecture Studio II

In Drawings and Archives, the students saw an overview of library designs from Carrère & Hastings’s masterpiece, the New York Public Library at 42nd Street to the sleek modernism of Harrison and Abramovitz’s Library for the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University. Charles Platt’s library for the University of Illinois was included, featuring stunning section and detail drawings of this Georgian style library. Capping the group were several drawings by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Roux Library at Florida Southern College. The drawings were selected to highlight the transition of space within the libraries.

The Curl is back!!

(CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE)

Clement Meadmore’s large public outdoor sculpture has returned to its home in front of Uris Hall!

Conservation Solutions recently reinstalled The Curl after it was offsite almost three months for conservation. A tent was erected for on-site painting and curing, after which it was rededicated in a ceremony held on December 16, 2015.

Thanks to Conservation Solutions and Columbia’s partners in this multi-year project: Office of the Provost, Columbia Business School, Columbia University Facilities, Columbia University Libraries, the Meadmore Task Force and the Committee on Art Properties.

To see a video of the rededication and more about The Curl  click here.

curl_20151219

Clement Meadmore, The Curl, 1968, Cor-Ten steel with paint, Gift of Percy Uris (1968.3.1), Photo: Brett Essler, Columbia Business School.

Classics at Play

An exhibit of architectural toys from Avery’s collections
Curated by: Teresa Harris
November 16, 2015-January 29, 2016
Avery Classics reading room

Image from instructional booklet accompanying Richter’s Anchor-Building-Bricks: real stone in three colours. (New York, 1887). Avery Classics AA200 D78

Frank Lloyd Wright credited Froebel blocks with teaching him the geometry of architecture. While not every child who played with Froebel’s toys grew into a world-renowned architect, the blocks represent the most celebrated example of the nineteenth-century trend to transform play into an active educational experience. That trend continues to the present day, and many of the toys on display in Avery Classics attempt to teach spatial awareness, often by allowing the user to build a structure for him or herself. The toys range from puzzles and 19th century peepshows commemorating significant architectural exhibitions to pop-up books to Lego models of masterworks by Wright. Other items on display, like the playing cards featuring monuments of the modern movement along with caricatures of renowned architects, are oriented towards a more sophisticated audience and assume a substantial knowledge of twentieth century architecture. Take a break this holiday season and come play with us!

CUL/IS Showcase Donor-Funded Conservation of Important Portrait

Digby_pre post conservation comparison_letter_size

Columbia University Libraries Showcase Donor-Funded Conservation of Important Portrait

NEW YORK, November 1, 2015 – Columbia University Libraries/Information Services’ (CUL/IS) Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Art Properties, and the Health Sciences Library, Archives & Special Collections, are pleased to showcase the end result of a major conservation project generously funded by donors Geraldine and Robert J. Dellenback. Portrait of Sir Kenelm Digby (1603-1665) was painted by the British artist Cornelius Johnson (1593-1661). The painting is oil on panel and signed and dated 1626. It was a bequest in 1974 to the College of Physicians and Surgeons from the estate of Dr. Jerome P. Webster, Professor Emeritus of Clinical Surgery at Columbia, and is part of the Jerome P. Webster Library of Plastic Surgery housed in Archives & Special Collections. “It has been an honor to have provided the funds for the restoration of the remarkable portrait of Sir Kenelm Digby so that at last it might be in the place of honor it richly deserves,” said Mrs. Dellenback, the daughter of Dr. Webster. “This generous donation from the Dellenbacks,” adds Roberto C. Ferrari, Curator of Art Properties, “has been instrumental in helping us properly care for one of the finest British paintings in the Columbia University art collection, and continue to advance our mission of using the art collection at Columbia for educational programming, curricular integration, and research/study by students, faculty, and outside scholars.”

Over time, the structure of the painting’s wood panels had separated, paint losses continued to worsen, and the varnish had aged and altered the appearance of the picture, leading to the decision to place it in the temperature- and humidity-controlled storage vault of Art Properties until funds could be raised to pay for its full conservation. With funds donated by the Dellenbacks, Art Properties contracted with New York City-based specialists from Thomas Art Conservation and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, who worked on the painting in 2014. They restructured the wood panels, restored the frame, and conserved and cleaned the surface of the painting, revealing the exquisite portrait hidden beneath centuries of accumulated grime.

The artist, also known as Cornelis Janssen van Ceulen, was born in London, the son of exiles from Antwerp. His artistic career began during the latter years of James I. The portrait of Digby dates from the early part of the artist’s career, when he began moving away from depicting sitters in oval windows, but before he transitioned fully to painting works on canvas rather than wood panel. In her recent book on the artist, Karen Hearn, a retired curator from the National Portrait Gallery in London and Honorary Professor at University College London, has cited this portrait as one of the earliest examples of Johnson’s “melancholy-style,” another prime example of which is in the collection of The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, CA.

Digby, the sitter, was a member of an old and distinguished gentry family, although his father had been executed for collaboration in the Gunpowder Plot to kill the king and members of Parliament. Before he was twenty years of age, Digby had traveled extensively to Italy, France, and Spain, and in 1623 he was knighted and named a gentleman of the privy chamber of Charles I, then still Prince of Wales. Soon after this portrait was completed in 1626, Digby had a brief but successful career as a commander in the British navy, but after the unexpected death of his wife in 1633 he turned to the study of natural sciences and philosophy, and authored a number of treatises based on his own scientific and medical experiments. Digby’s work on the healing properties of the occult “powder of sympathy” included several references to the pioneering work of the Italian plastic surgeon Gaspare Tagliacozzi (1545-1599), whose biography Dr. Webster co-authored in the 1950s.

The Columbia University art collection, stewarded by Art Properties and based in Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, comprises over 10,000 works of fine and decorative art objects in all media from all time periods and all cultures. The portrait is on display in the Archives & Special Collections Geraldine McAlpin Webster Reading Room at the Health Sciences Library, and is available for viewing by appointment only. Archives & Special Collections serves as the archives for Columbia’s four health science schools, holds a 27,000-volume rare book library in the history of the health sciences, and has a growing number of personal papers. The Jerome P. Webster Library of Plastic Surgery forms part of the department’s holdings and is considered one of the world’s most comprehensive collections on the subject, with works dating from the 15th through the 20th centuries.

Image credit: Cornelius Johnson, Portrait of Sir Kenelm Digby (1603-1665), 1626, oil on panel, 31 x 24 in. (78.7 x 61 cm), Art Properties, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University in the City of New York, Gift of the Estate of Dr. Jerome Webster (Professor Emeritus of Clinical Surgery) to the College of Physicians and Surgeons (C00.1308). Pre-conservation photo: Avery Library. Post-conservation photo: Juan Trujillo.

Celebrating Avery’s 125th!

Avery Friends gathered Monday November 2nd, 2015 for the inaugural celebration of Avery’s 125th anniversary year. A tour-de-force one-day only exhibition presented 125 treasured works from Avery’s venerable and storied collections.

If you missed this event, please join Avery Friends to ensure your invitation to upcoming Avery 125th events!

Selected photos from the exhibition and reception at Avery Library:

Preservation Master Plan for Taliesin West

TW-master-plan-3803.132Talk by T. Gunny Harboe, FAIA (Harboe Architects)
The Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer Lecture

Monday, November 16, 2015
6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Location: MoMA, The Celeste Bartos Theater

Co-sponsored by Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library and The Museum of Modern Art

Taliesin West was established in 1937 as Wright’s winter home, studio and campus for the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation recently released the Preservation Master Plan for this U.S. National Historic Landmark. Gunny Harboe, preservation architect and founder of Chicago-based Harboe Architects, and the plan’s primary author, will present the major tenants of the Taliesin West plan. Mr. Harboe has overseen preservation of some of Wright’s most significant sites including the Robie House and Unity Temple.

The Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer lecture series honors the work of Mr. Pfeiffer, a widely recognized expert on Wright and author of numerous books on Wright’s life and works. Mr. Pfeiffer studied architecture at the Ecole Nationale de Beaux Arts and was  apprentice to Wright from 1949-1959, and to Olgivanna Lloyd Wright from 1959-1987.

Upon Wright’s death in 1959, Mrs. Wright gathered the archive of his work at Taliesin West, thereby preserving and keeping intact the visual and textual legacy of one of history’s great architectural geniuses. It was an unprecedented action, since architectural archives of such size and scope for a single architect did not exist at that time. Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, as Director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives, curated and organized the archives from 1959-2012.

Image credit:
Frank Lloyd Wright. Taliesin West Master Plan (1938).
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives. (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York)

Celebrate Avery’s 125th Anniversary

Avery_4294_004Celebrate Avery’s 125th anniversary at this special one-day only exhibit! Here’s one of our treasures which will be in the show:

Thom Mayne/Morphosis
Color Proof 1/Gold Club at Chiba Prefecture, Japan. 1990.    1990.004.00071

In 1990, the Chiba Prefecture west of Tokyo had the highest concentration of golf courses in Japan. This project represented an exploration between landscape and building with the intention of allowing landscape to take a more dominant role. This is fitting for a golf course, especially in an area so densely built. The project was never constructed due to the economic downturn in Japan at that time. This serigraph was a color proof and at least one other edition, with different colors, was made.