Thursday, December 27, 2007

Clyfford Still Changing

KQED has published a piece by Timothy Buckwalter about the condition of the Clyfford Still paintings at SFMOMA. Apparently he mixed his his own paints and some of his paintings are fading. Buckwalter talked to SFMOMA conservator Paula De Cristofaro who said, "Change in an artwork that is inherent to an artist's technique is not a condition we would consider ‘restoring.' We accept it as part of the nature of the work."

Read the whole story here.

(Image is from


Nancy Ewart said...

I think that a lot of artists of his generation either didn't know or didn't care about the permanence of their materials - Rothko being one extreme example. But I understand that artists as diverse as Kooning, Pollock and Kline also used house paint and paper that is now falling apart. Of course, sometimes they couldn't afford anything better. I often wonder if "cutting edge" art produced by today's artists will fare much better. I was very impressed by the Kiefer show last year but his work must be a curator's and conservationist's nightmare.

bluemonk said...

Very interesting to think about it from a conservator's standpoint. I didn't think that they might choose NOT to restore a work if the work was rapidly deteriorating and they had the ability to do so. But it makes sense, especially if the stipulations the artist set on the works' display contributed to their deterioration. Sad, though. I remember one painting of his in particular in the old SFMOMA (probably Untitled, 1951) that had a huge impact on me at the time.