39th Annual Meeting – Paintings Session, Katlan Palettes of the Salamagundi Club, Cox The longterm relationship

I was incredibly lucky with the two talks that I chose to blog about. I had tried to find some talks that were not too technical as I felt that I would not have too much to comment upon if I did not understand the science of the talk. I was drawn to the topic of the Salamagundi club because I grew up around the corner from the present day Salamagundi club in New York City. Further I was interested in Ruth Cox’s talk about fostering a long-term relationship between private conservator and a museum collection, as I am a private conservator. But enough about me and on to the talks.
In his talk about the Salamagundi Club palette collection Alex Kaltan briefly described the history of the painters palette. He discussed the rarity of palette collections and described both the Salamagundi palette collection and the Grumbacher paint company palette collection. Katlan stressed the importance of artist materials in collections and the fact that they have been overlooked in the past but that they can be invaluable additions to study collections and provide insight into the working practices of artists. The Salamagundi club collection itself is made up of both working palettes and demonstration palettes. A working palette is an actual palette that the artist worked with over a period of time and differs from a demonstration palette, which is an unused palette with the artist paint colors in the manner in which they did when painting. Katlan describes the great variation in the arrangement of color on the palette and how this arrangement gives a lot of information about the thought process of the artist.
What struck me about Katlan’s talk is how well it tied in with an earlier talk in the PSG session by Narayan Khandedkar about the working habits and palette of Delacroix. Also I was touched by how these objects are a personal link to the artist workings methods.
The second talk by Ruth Baruch Cox outlined her long-term relationship with the Reynoldo House Museum. Cox explains that she functions as more than a treatment conservator at this institution where she has done 2 conservation surveys and created a disaster plan in addition to performing several conservation treatments.
The rest of the talk focused on the treatment of Spring Turning by Grant Wood. The treatment was complicated by Woods varnishing practices and former treatments. The museum has produced a video about the treatment and a brochure on the care of paintings.
I was disappointed that there was not more about the long-term relationship between the conservator and the museum. It seems that the talk about the treatment of the Grant wood is a separate topic from the long-term relationship with the museum. However that is just my personal view as I am a conservator in private practice and I also try to foster meaningful long-term relationships with my museum clients.
Overall I was very impressed with the quality of these two talks.