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Sunday, May 15 • 5:00pm - 5:30pm
(Paintings) The Mellow Pad in layers, colors, and time: investigating the materials and technique of Stuart Davis

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Stuart Davis took six years to complete The Mellow Pad (1946-51), an innovative and complex painting that he described as, “the most powerful objective Art realization of my life.” Inherently linked to the stimulating visuals, the artist’s working process and material choices affect The Mellow Pad’s current condition in two significant ways. The first of these is recurring interlayer cleavage resulting from Davis’s application of paint layers over a period of many years. The second is that two colors in The Mellow Pad have changed, variously fading and shifting over time. A generous grant from Bank of America made it possible to address both of these issues in preparation for the upcoming retrospective exhibition In Full Swing: The Art of Stuart Davis, organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art. In addition to stabilization treatment and encapsulation in a microclimate enclosure, the painting will undergo a technical study of the materials using primarily non-invasive techniques. Fiber optic reflectance spectroscopy (FORS), x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF), and multiband imaging will be used synergistically to identify colorants. Additionally, X-radiography and optical coherence tomography (OCT) will further elucidate the painting’s complex layer structure. With this range of non-invasive techniques, it is hoped that microscopic samples will only be required in rare situations. A similar investigation of four other Davis paintings in the Brooklyn Museum collection will give context to this research. Considering how crucial vivid color relationships are to Davis’s work of this time period, a better understanding of his materials will be beneficial to both preservation and interpretation efforts at the Brooklyn Museum and beyond.

Speakers
avatar for Jessica Ford

Jessica Ford

Mellon Fellow, Brooklyn Museum
Jessica Ford joined the Brooklyn Museum as a Mellon Fellow in 2014, where she works on paintings ranging from Egyptian funerary shrouds and Old Master European works to Modern and Contemporary artworks. She brings experience with paintings on non-traditional surfaces, including reverse-painted glass, free-hanging banners, wall murals, and polychrome decorative interiors. Jessica holds a Master of Science degree from Winterthur/University of... Read More →


Sunday May 15, 2016 5:00pm - 5:30pm
Room 710 A


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