sculpture

Conserving Louise Nevelson’s "Ocean Gate"

As a follow up to our last post about the conservator’s role in dealing with artistic intent, the Objects Conservation Department has been working with outdoor sculpture contractors from Tracy Power Conservation to conserve the Louise Nevelson sculpture Ocean Gate. The sculpture is located at the south corner of the Osher Sculpture Garden at the de Young.


Louise Nevelson (American, 1900–1988)
Ocean Gate, 1982
Aluminum and black paint
145 11/16 x 81 7/8 x 68 1/8 in.
Museum purchase, gift of Barbro and Bernard A. Osher, 2002.72a-f

FRAME|WORK: A seven-headed bush spirit from Nigeria

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature a life-size sculpture depicting a Nigerian bush spirit, currently on view in the African gallery at the de Young.


Shrine figure or bush spirit with seven heads, 20th century
Nigeria, Cross River, Ijo people
Wood, glass eyes, paint
172.7 x 35.6 x 45.7 cm (68.5 x 14.5 x 18 in.)
Museum purchase, gift of Phyllis C. Wattis and the Phyllis C. Wattis Fund for Major Accessions
2004.93

The Conservator’s Role in Honoring Artistic Intent

When objects conservators design a treatment for a corroded sculpture, they often have to grapple with the issue of the artist’s intent.

For instance, would Henry Moore at age 29, who made a sculpture with a shiny metallic surface, be in agreement with Henry Moore at 75, who, when interviewed about a treatment, stated that he quite liked the idea that surfaces went green, dry and streaky with time?

One way a conservator can help tease out these contradictions is to interview contemporary artists about the materials and techniques they use and then record how these artists would like their sculptures cared for in the future. At the Fine Arts Museums we are developing a database tracking this information for contemporary sculpture under our care.

The artist Al Farrow with

Artist Al Farrow with his sculpture The Spine and Tooth of Santo Guerro previously on view at the de Young
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