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Alexander Archipenko, American. 1887-1964. Queen of Sheba, 1961 Bronze, 65 1/2 x 31 x 20". On extended loan from Frances Archipenko Gray, EL1995.10

Off-Campus: Conservation

Today’s post comes from Julie MacDonald, Class of 2012 and Art Center Student Docent.

With the array of events taking place daily at the Art Center, sometimes it is easy to overlook all of the work going on behind closed doors. For the past several months, the doors to the Hildegarde Krause Baker, class of 1911, Sculpture Garden have indeed been closed as workers busily prepare for its re-opening this spring. In accordance with the newly redesigned master plan for the Vassar College campus, the architectural landscape firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc., has revamped the sculpture garden to enhance the introspective personal journey one takes when spending time among the artwork.

Visitors to the newly landscaped garden will notice the improved appearance of several sculptures on view. Outdoor sculpture is, of course, subject to the natural elements, and as such it is important for the Art Center to continually re-evaluate the condition of these sculptures. The interim period created by the reworking of the landscape presented the opportunity for conservator Abigail Mack to treat six works. One of these, Alexander Archipenko’s Queen of Sheba (1961; on extended loan from Frances Archipenko Gray), has stood for many years in the sculpture garden, but what may surprise many visitors when the sculpture is reinstalled is the stark contrast of materials intended by the artist. This series of images from the conservator shows the progression of the sculpture as Ms. Mack  removes the weathered patina from what are meant to be bright bronze areas—transforming the appearance of the work.
Be sure to visit the conserved Queen of Sheba and other works in the sculpture garden when its doors will be open once again in spring.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Joe

    I am sure some artists may view the weathering of their sculptures as a dynamic part of the art itself. I wonder if that’s ever explicitly planned and explained by the artist.

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