Preservation

The Conservation of Eight Paintings by Frank Stella

When the National Trust took over Philip Johnson’s Glass House property, it became the steward not only of the fourteen structures that the architect designed and built on the site, but also the steward of Johnson’s significant art collection. Johnson was an avid collector of modern art. According to Frank Stella, “He [Johnson] made all his own choices—bang bang bang—and that was it. And he never seemed to second-guess any of them either. A lot of dealers, a lot of people buy stuff and say, ‘I’ll trade this one for that one.’ That wasn’t Philip’s style. He was pretty sure—he liked what he liked.”

Eight of Stella’s paintings were featured in the inaugural exhibition of Glass House, which opened to the public in June 2007. To prepare for the opening, the environment of the Painting Gallery was stabilized. The HVAC system had worked only intermittently during Johnson’s lifetime, causing the air to become too humid, resulting in mold growth on carpeted walls, panels, and even the paintings. During the inaugural season, Stella’s paintings were conserved in situ in full view of the visiting public.

Acknowledgements

This conservation was funded by a generous gift from Agnes Gund.

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