In “The Hypothetical Audience,” artist Trevor Paglen and art conservator Glenn Wharton explored how the meaning of an artwork evolves over time. Wharton spoke about his work with artists to document their intentions, since effectively preserving a piece’s meaning over time might actually require actions that seem incongruous with conservation, such as altering the physical work to preserve its desired effect in a given context. Along these lines, Paglen revealed that his intention inThe Last Picturesis “deeply paradoxical,” since he aims to both foster dialogue on the included images as representations of society and also reflect on the reality that images are only legible based on context—an intention that raises questions about what components conservators should preserve.
A number of takeaways emerged, but one stood out in particular: as artists think increasingly broadly about artworks responding to their surroundings in the long term, the field of conservation is becoming more engaged in the process of treating works to avoid simply freezing them in a pristine state.
I did posters. I was in what they called the camouflage secret army. This was in 1943. The people at Fort Meade got the idea to make rubber dummies of tanks, which we inflated on the spot and waited for Germans to see through their night photography or spies. We were in Normandy, for example, pretending to be a big, strong armored division which, in fact, was still in England. That way, even though the tanks were only inflated, the Germans would think there were a lot of them there, a lot of guns, a whole big infantry. We just blew them up and put them in a field. Then all of the German forces would move toward us, and we’d get the call to get out quick. So we had to whsssh [sound of deflating] package them up and get out of there in 20 minutes. Then our real forces, which were waiting, would attack from the rear.
Image Credit: Shot by an unknown photographer, the photo shows a secret U.S. Army unit, the Ghost Army, in World War II that made hundreds of inflatable tanks and other devices of illusion to deceive enemy forces.
Text Excerpt: Ellsworth Kelly by Gwyneth Paltrow in Interview Magazine, Oct 13, 2011
Tempera and oil varnish glazes on gesso panel on board
Gift of Mari and James A. Michener, 1991
This work, painted when the artist was at the midpoint of his life, provides a lyrical view of a young couple on a relaxed evening stroll. Drawing on his knowledge of both Old Master techniques and modernist ideas, which he had gleaned from several years spent studying in Paris, Benton crafted a lively composition whose rhythmic alignment of forms conveys a sense of poignant familiarity.
“I always like to look at the sites in the dark because I feel that a lot of the detail is eliminated, and you can grasp the major features better.” Tony Smith, quoted in Donald Thalacker, The Place of Art in the World of Architecture, 1980
In March 1974 the General Services Administration commissioned Tony Smith to make a sculpture for the Department of Labor building in Washington, D.C. A few months later the artist was ready to present this maquette to the GSA Design Review Panel for final approval. Smith was concerned with getting the model safely from his studio in New Jersey to Washington, and carefully wrapped it and carried it like “a newborn child” (Thalacker, The Place of Art in the World of Architecture, 1980). The maquette had its own seat on the plane and arrived safely at National Airport. Smith hailed a taxi, and the driver, insisting that the model would be safer in the trunk than on the seat, slammed the trunk lid on one of its edges. Despite the damage to the model, the GSA panelists unanimously approved his design. Smith often titled his pieces after literary works, and this maquette was named after the central character in H. Rider Haggard’s 1887 novel She. The completed sculpture was installed in 1976 and measures 30 by 24 by 8 feet.
So we went on a UCLA labs tour yesterday. Pictured here is their big lab, forensic light source (A magical light source box that gives you really specific wavelengths anywhere from IR to UV) that hangs out in their documentation room, and finally, their reading room. I was busy being all fascinated by equipment, and then i remembered how we sit in the stairway to have our coffee in Melbourne and felt mildly depressed.
This is an architectural drawing of the Millers’ “THRONE ROOM,” or commode room as it’s referred to in other correspondence. In 1999, the Millers requested a grab bar be installed in this portion of their master bathroom and called upon none other than Kevin Roche to oversee the design. While YES, it’s funny to come across a drawing of a toilet within the archival collection of an architectural masterpiece, this document is telling of how carefully any addition or change to the house was considered. It also serves as a reminder that Miller House functioned as a family residence. Structural changes such as these allowed the Millers to live in their home until the end of their lives and design quality was always considered alongside functionality.
Drawing of 2760 commode room , sent by Irwin Management to Kevin Roche, John Dinkeloo and Associates, 28 January 1999, 09/82, Miller House and Garden Collection,IMA Archives, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, Indiana. (MHG_Ib_B009_f082_045)