FREDERICK FURSMAN PEASANT GIRL WITH ONE SHOE OFF FINISHED

Due to unusual circumstances, this Frederick Fursman (1874 – 1943) portrait had a foreshortened stretcher bar. This gave the top-left of the portrait, where there is a painting in the painting, cropped dimensions and unfortunately part of the woman was folded back and lost from view. The portrait had been like that for some time, and the wear and tear of the stretcher bar caused major areas of loss. In-painting was necessary to restore the top margin, and a new stretcher bar was prepared, one that matched the dimensions of the painting. We also restored the frame, using casts to in-fill lost ornamentation. This is a wonderful, introspective portrait, and now its scope is back to how the artist intended it.

A painter and teacher, Frederick Fursman (1874 – 1943) was born in El Paso, Illinois and studied in Paris at the Academy Julian and in Chicago at the Art Institute. Early in his career, he painted in France in an impressionist style, depicting the landscape of Brittany and figures in that landscape.

In 1910, he and fellow artist Walter Marshall Clute founded a summer school of painting in Saugatuck, Michigan, which would later become Ox-Bow. It was to draw inspiration from the Smith Academy and the Academe Julian, encouraging the bohemian social life of Brittany and the literary soirées of the evening clubs in Chicago. He explained to a reporter in 1930, “We found the spot one day by chance as we walked along the river and cut through the woods to the lagoon. That was in 1910. Some of my pupils at the Art Institute had been working in a summer class at Sauguatuck with Walter Clute and me for several years…I found the place as charming as its name, and this spot, close to the village and yet quite apart from it…was ideal for our purpose. The Inn was already operating. The oldest part of the present building had once been an Indian fur-trading post. Later, it had served as a lumberjack’s hotel. When the axmen left the fisherman came–now the artists.”

While serving as director, Fursman rented the local lighthouse from the government for $10 per year, and would commute to work either by swimming or by rowboat. He supplied the school with its personality and strength, encouraging free expression, experimentation, and the active yet disciplined pursuit of plein-air painting. In 1920 he bought a home in downtown Saugatuck, and in 1931 he organized the Saugatuck Arts Association.

By 1913 and 1914, when he had returned to Brittany, he was less focused on representation in his paintings and had turned increasingly to abstraction with sensational color that showed the influence of the French fauvre painters.

Fursman exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy, Corcoran Gallery, and the Art Institute of Chicago. His work is in the collection of the Toledo Museum of Art.

A couple of works by W.E. BAUM Finished

This pair of W.E. Baum (1884 – 1956) artworks, along with their frames, were recently restored. The first is a pastel from a place he knew well, Sellersville, Pennsylvania, and the second is an oil painting that actually depicts the view from his studio.

The pastel required a substantial amount of in-painting, as the dryness of the pastel had led to flaking. The board had introduced acid contaminates, but it was an artist’s prepared board, and that allowed us to “skin” it so we could easily de-acidify it. A new archival board was adhered, and an archival spray was used to consolidate the pastels.

The oil painting was also given a better backing, our honey-comb panel, which is very sturdy and provides excellent support. Upon investigation, we discovered an area at the bottom that had been gauged out and badly repaired, and there were also losses occurred where nails had been driven in. These areas were filled and then in-painted.

Museum glass was given to the pastel frame. It was also backed-up to allow the glass and paint surface to sit clear of each other. Before this wasn’t the case and it had actually led to some rubbing and loss of pastel. Motifs on the oil frame had areas of loss. These were remade through casts and adhered.

W.A. Reaser Oil Painting and Louis XV Frame

This painting by W.A. Reaser (1860 – 1942) had been near a fireplace for some time and it suffered from prolonged smoke exposure and even slight burn damage. The paint surface was also heavily contaminated with smoke, tar, and nicotine; and craquelures, tiny ridge-like abrasions in the paint surface, had formed due to a lack of moisture.

To improve stability we re-lined with Belgian linen and then tented to hydrate the canvas. Tenting rejuvenated the painting, but it also had the advantage of adding pliability to the craquelures which made them easier to consolidate. Deep cleaning  removed the surface contaminates of smoke, tar, and nicotine. The painting was re-stretched onto the stretcher bar and then, along the craquelures, the areas were consolidated and in-painted. More in-painting was done to the areas of heat damage. Through the reverse, gesso was added to prevent the paint from causing the canvas to deteriorate. Conservation varnish was applied to finish.

The period Louis XV frame had lost decorative moldings, was very dry, and some of the existing portions needed consolidation. The frame’s gold leaf finish was also very dirty from fireplace soot.

The frame was carefully cleaned and given a back-up to add strength. Existing portions were consolidated with glue adhered underneath and in-between. To repair the ornamentation we created composition and formed to a mold. These pieces were fitted into place, fine-tuning with cutting and sanding. Final surface touches were made applying gesso, clays, and gilding to match the rest of the frame.

Born on Christmas Day, 1860 at Hicksville, Ohio, Reaser began studying art at the Mark Hopkins Institute in San Francisco. From there he continued his training in Paris at the Académie Julian in 1888-89, where hundreds of his fellow Americans congregated for instruction. His teachers were Jules-Joseph Lefebvre and Benjamin Constant.

Already in 1890, Reaser was exhibiting at the Paris Salon (Portrait of Mrs. R., and Bath Attendant) and in 1893 he contributed Girl Reading and a pastel entitled Mother and Child. After returning home, Reaser won gold and silver medals at the California Exposition in 1894 then the First Hallgarten Prize at the National Academy of Design in 1897.

He continued to submit figure painting to other national exhibitions (to the Art Institute of Chicago in 1897 and the Pennsylvania Academy, 1898 and 1900). His Portrait of Senator W.B. Allison hangs in the U.S. Senate lobby, and he is known to have painted murals in private homes. The Carnegie Museum of Art has his Mother and Daughter and the Iowa State Historical Society has some of his works. In addition, the Des Moines Art Center has Old Man and Sleeping Child.

Reaser was most active exhibiting at the Carnegie Institute (1897-1912).  He developed an astonishingly free broken-color technique in pastel, shown in Seaweed Gatherers, Italy, probably from around 1910. The entire picture surface is enlivened by juxtaposed strokes of pastel, while the artist limited his selection of colors to sky blue, ultramarine, viridian, and violet.  Reaser died on December 9, 1942 in Minneapolis.

Source:
Clark, Edna, Ohio Art and Artists. Richmond, VA: Garrett and Massie, 1932, p. 486.

Lee Krasner Painting

This Lee Krasner oil painting is a wonderful representation of her Little Image collection. It is believed to have been executed in 1948 or 1949. Since then some surface contaminates have darkened the colors, and from surface hits a number of craquelures have emerged. Upon examination, it was also discovered that the original stretcher bar was too small, causing the left and right edge of the painting to be clipped. We will address the issues to the paint surface, build a new stretcher bar, and also a new custom frame in a wide modernist style. Stay tuned for more…

Born to a Russian immigrant family living in Brooklyn on October 27, 1908, Krasner decided early on to pursue a career in the arts. Enrolling at the Cooper Union in 1926, the young artist struggled to find the appropriate artistic milieu to encourage her talent. Beginning in 1928, she studied for a brief time at the Art Students League, then at National Academy of Design from 1928-1932, and subsequently at City College in 1932-33, where she obtained a teaching certificate. However, the teachings of the influential artist Hans Hoffman at his renowned school in Greenwich Village had the greatest impact on Krasner’s artistic development.

Krasner studied with Hofmann intermittently from 1937 to 1940. During these years her style changed from Surrealist-inspired paintings of the early-mid 1930s to abstract figural and still-life compositions that reveal an understanding of Cubist and Fauvist principles. Art historian Robert Hobbs singles out the artist’s charcoal nude figure studies from this period. He writes: “Of far greater importance than her still-life paintings are the life drawings that Krasner made at the Hofmann School. In these works she quickly assimilated the rudiments of Cubism as well as Hofmann’s emphasis on tensions achieved through the opposition of light and shadow, depth and flatness.”

However, Krasner did not always agree with Hofmann’s teaching methods. Robert Hobbs reports how she became angered when Hofmann tore one of her drawings into quarters to make a point about compositional tension to his students.  It was perhaps not surprising that she later shortened her name to the androgynous moniker “Lee,” perhaps in an attempt to combat institutional sexism. Remarks such as Hofmann’s awkward compliment, when he announced to the class, “This [study] is so good you would not know that it was done by a woman,” testified to the inherent biases lingering in the art world. Krasner’s move was not uncommon for female artists of her ambition; other artist’s of her generation, such as Grace (George) Hartigan and Michael (Corrinne) West, also adopted male first names.

In the 1930s, Krasner became acquainted with Harold Rosenberg, who would become one of the most influential art critics of his generation. In 1934, Krasner was appointed to the Public Works of Art Project, and the following year she and Rosenberg were assigned to Max Spivak’s mural project (for the Federal Art Project [FAP]).  Their positions—more as de-facto personal assistants than artistic collaborators on the project since Spivak preferred to work alone—allowed for ample conversations and lively debates about art, leftist politics, and intellectual developments. Rosenberg, an aspiring poet, introduced her to the work of Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud.  The French Symbolist poet Rimbaud provided a tremendous source of inspiration for the artist, particularly in his poem “A Season in Hell,” which Krasner excerpted and inscribed on the wall of her studio in 1941.

In 1940, Krasner joined the American Abstract Artists (AAA), a group dedicated to creating international abstract art whose slogan announced their aims “For Peace, for Democracy, For Cultural Progress.” Her participation in AAA exhibitions from 1940 to 1943, her outspoken attitude and involvement in protests organized by the Artists Union, and her affiliation with Hofmann’s school increased her reputation in the early 1940s. She received a public mural commission for the New York radio station WNYC (which was never executed), and also participated in several group exhibitions. These included French and American Painting, a show organized by John Graham that opened in January 1942 at McMillen Inc. design studios.

French and American Painting marked the first occasion where Krasner and Pollock exhibited their work in the same show. Indeed, after receiving the offer to participate in the exhibition, Krasner visited Pollock’s studio to introduce herself, not realizing that she had had met Pollock previously. In 1945, the couple both contributed paintings to A Problem for Critics at Howard Putzel’s Gallery 67.  They were married later that year in an intimate ceremony in The Springs, Long Island, where they had purchased a farmhouse not far from the home of Harold Rosenberg and his wife May Tabak.

In 1946, Krasner launched her Little Image series. These paintings incorporated an all-over compositional technique using variously short dabs, dense webs of dripped paint, and grids of ciphers and hieroglyphic forms. The Little Image paintings were informed by Krasner’s religious training as a child, when she learned Hebrew, and also by post-war Zionism.  More broadly, Krasner’s calligraphic paintings revealed the artist’s exploration of symbols and sign systems; she explained, “I thought of [my unconscious messages] as a kind of crazy writing of my own, sent by me to I don’t know who, which I can’t read, and I’m not so anxious to read.” It was a period of artist growth that Krasner said she was waiting for something to happen, confident that the repetition of familiar pigment and canvas would eventually make something. These works were not executed on an easel, but on the floor or a table. This marked the only time she ever worked looking down on her canvases.

In 1953, Krasner began to destroy both Pollock’s and her own work to generate small collages composed of the fragments of sliced canvases. The collages that resulted from this process of destruction and recombination displayed complex interlocking forms, realizing in both a material and visual way the tension of opposing forces encouraged by Hofmann years earlier. These works also reveal the painter’s appreciation for Matisse’s lively color. Krasner combined the principles of Hoffman and Matisse with her admiration for Cubist drawing.

Following Pollock’s death in 1956, Krasner responded with a group of works called Earth Green. The series featured monumental painterly explosions addressing themes of renewal, such as harvest, fertility, and growth. Sometimes referred to as “autobiographical,” these Abstract Expressionist figurative paintings often depict hybrid, gender-neutral personnages within carefully structured canvases that balance horizontal and vertical forces. In 1959 Krasner launched another series inspired by death. These works, referred to collectively as “Night Journeys” are part of her larger Umber series and are characterized by their limited palette of blacks, whites, ochres, and browns. Also distinctive are their mixed use of sprayed and spattered paint and the intense emotions they evoke. In 1958 Krasner also produced a large-scale mosaic for the Uris Building in New York utilizing some of the same forms as her collages.

In the mid-1970s, Krasner’s work came full circle. After rediscovering several portfolios of the charcoal Nude Study from Life drawings in 1976, she saved (and likely signed and dated) those she wished to keep, giving some as gifts to friends and colleagues. The remaining drawings she cut into abstract forms and sliced and pasted these fragments onto large canvases. Painting on top of the collage, she titled the series, Eleven Ways to Use the Words to See. These works expressed the artist’s interest in both Cubist design and Fauvist color, as well as her career-long engagement with drawing, painting, and collage.

That decade also witnessed the ascendancy of Krasner’s national reputation. Her work was exhibited in several major exhibitions that celebrated the varied aspects of her oeuvre, including Lee Krasner: Large Paintings at the Whitney Museum of American Art, organized by Marcia Tucker, and the traveling show Lee Krasner: Collages and Works on Paper, 1933-1974 initiated by the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Two other important exhibitions were Krasner/Pollock: A Working Relationship, curated by Barbara Rose, and Lee Krasner: Works on Paper at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.  After suffering from arthritis and battling various illnesses since 1962, Krasner died in 1984.

Fernando Ramos Prida Collection

The 8 works by Fernando Ramos Prida (1937) are enroute to auction with a layover at our studio for a little restoration. Most need moderate cleaning, and some will require a little more. Typical of Prida’s style, seven of these are reliefs made from wood, giving them many nooks and crannies for dust and dirt to accumulate. The eighth work is an oil on canvas and is sizable at 47 1/4” x 39 1/2.” We due expect the removal of the dirt to have a significant impact on the colors.

Prida was born on January 2, 1937 in Mexico City. In the 1950s, he studied art at the National Academy of San Carlos and the Esmeralda school of painting and sculpture. A spot in the very prestigious Galeria de Arte Mexicano was offered to him after he graduated. In 1965, at the age of 28, he had a one man show that sold out; and across the United States, Europe, and Mexico, he has had 31 solo shows and 69 group exhibitions. Cuernavaca is now where he calls home, but he has worked and lived in Boston and Paris.

Prida’s work can be found in private and public collections all over the world. In Mexico, Latin America, America, and Europe, there are 36 museums exhibiting original Fernando Ramos Prida pieces. At age 43, he began to carve and paint wooden tablets left outside to crack in the scorching hot sun. This art is reminiscent of the Olmec and Mayan heritage of his youth. This has become the style that he is most well known for.

Frederick Fursman Peasant Girl With One Shoe Off

This painting suffers from a very dry canvas and a considerable accumulation of dirt particulates on the paint surface. There is also stress placed on the painting with how tight the fit is from the stretcher bar. The frame is dry and has dirt contaminates. Two of its corners have lost ornamentation and the liner needs to be replaced.

We’ll clean and re-line the painting. A new liner will be prepared, matching the frame finish; and the frame will be cleaned and hydrated, and the corners mended with casts made to recreate the decorative motifs that were lost. There is also a neat label on the reverse that will be a great keepsake. We’ll de-acidify it and attach it to foamcore before returning it to the frame.

A painter and teacher, Frederick Fursman (1874 – 1943) was born in El Paso, Illinois and studied in Paris at the Academy Julian and in Chicago at the Art Institute. Early in his career, he painted in France in an impressionist style, depicting the landscape of Brittany and figures in that landscape.

In 1910, he and fellow artist Walter Marshall Clute founded a summer school of painting in Saugatuck, Michigan, which would later become Ox-Bow. It was to draw inspiration from the Smith Academy and the Academe Julian, encouraging the bohemian social life of Brittany and the literary soirées of the evening clubs in Chicago. He explained to a reporter in 1930, “We found the spot one day by chance as we walked along the river and cut through the woods to the lagoon. That was in 1910. Some of my pupils at the Art Institute had been working in a summer class at Sauguatuck with Walter Clute and me for several years…I found the place as charming as its name, and this spot, close to the village and yet quite apart from it…was ideal for our purpose. The Inn was already operating. The oldest part of the present building had once been an Indian fur-trading post. Later, it had served as a lumberjack’s hotel. When the axmen left the fisherman came–now the artists.”

While serving as director, Fursman rented the local lighthouse from the government for $10 per year, and would commute to work either by swimming or by rowboat. He supplied the school with its personality and strength, encouraging free expression, experimentation, and the active yet disciplined pursuit of plein-air painting. In 1920 he bought a home in downtown Saugatuck, and in 1931 he organized the Saugatuck Arts Association.

By 1913 and 1914, when he had returned to Brittany, he was less focused on representation in his paintings and had turned increasingly to abstraction with sensational color that showed the influence of the French fauvre painters.

Fursman exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy, Corcoran Gallery, and the Art Institute of Chicago. His work is in the collection of the Toledo Museum of Art.

A Couple of Works by W.E. Baum

This pair of W.E. Baum (1884 – 1956) artworks came into the studio recently. The first is an oil painting depicting the view from his studio. The second is a landscape from a place he knew well, Sellersville, Pennsylvania.

On the oil painting there have been a few areas of loss, and the canvas has cupped due to the moisture let in by the frame. The typical dirt contaminates also plague the surface of this artwork. In-fill and in-painting will restore the areas of loss, and deep cleaning with remove the dirt contaminate. To stabilize the canvas it will be placed on a honeycomb panel. This will have the added benefit of undoing the cupping so it can remain flat. Its frame is a 19th Century frame. There are some areas of loss and they will be addressed through new casting.

The pastel was done on a board, and it is possible that there was also paper involved, but further investigation will be needed to determine that. However, the board contains acids that have migrated to the pastel and are degrading it at the cellular level through chemical burns. We also suspect that the acids are causing staining, but that the pastels are covering it. In some places the pastel has started to flake, which is largely due to its age. Consolidation will return it to a consistent plane. The board will be deacidified, and if we find that there is paper, it will also be deacidified and then placed on new, archival board. This pastel came in a art nouveau frame that lacks the depth needed to keep the pastel from the glass–this has caused some pastel loss in the past. To fix this, a back-up will be given to the frame, and UV-filtering glass will replace the original glass.

Stay tuned for more…

Walter Emerson Baum, the second of five children, was born in Sellersville, Pennsylvania on December 14, 1884. His family was known for musical talents, but he studied art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and later received an honorary degree from Lehigh University.

Baum was a prolific artist who exhibited in over one-hundred fifty museum exhibitions and received over thirty major awards. Baum gained nationwide recognition when he won the prestigious Sesnan Gold Medal in 1925 at the Pennsylvania Academy of Art Annual. Later he won the Zabriskie Prize in 1945 from the American Watercolor Society and the Medal of Honor in 1953 from the National Arts Club.

He is considered the “father of art in the Lehigh Valley,” and he wrote extensively on the subject for the Sellersville Herald, the Doylestown Intelligence and the Allentown Evening Chronicle. He also lent his expertise and criticism to the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin and the Philadelphia Sunday Bulletin serving as art editor and critic for both as well as for the publication, Two Hundred Years, a study of the Pennsylvania Germans and their heritage.

His dedication to the improvement and preservation of art culminated with his founding of the Lehigh Art Alliance and the co-founding of the Allentown Art Museum. Between 1918 and 1926, Baum taught art classes at his home in Sellersville. After a student suggested that he offer summer art classes in Allentown, Baum founded his own school of art in 1929.

Besides directing the Baum School of Art, Baum worked as the first director of the Allentown Art Museum and amassed a major regional art collection of the period. In June of 1956, Baum retired as director of the Baum School and the Allentown Art Museum. Later that month he wrote his last column for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. Shortly thereafter, on July 12, 1956, he died of a heart attack.

Hoerman Grand Canyon Original American Impressionist 22K Frame

We were very happy with how our original frame turned out and with how it paired with the Hoerman Grand Canyon landscape. The quality that struck us about the painting were the layers of geological progression receding into the distance and how the cloud gave commonality to both the progression and also the distance. We took this quality, and within the American Impressionist vein, simplified it in our corner design with what we’re calling “Mountains and Leaves.” We were also pleased with how the richness of the 22K gold picks up the red tones of the Grand Canyon and gives a warm, open, and inviting quality.

Robert Wood Autumn in the Woods Landscape

This is the second Robert Wood (1889 – 1979) painting we’ve had in studio. This one has a substantial coating of tar and nicotine, and in the sky area, where the paint is thinner, some areas of loss were minor hits have occurred. Along the perimeter, where the stretcher bar pushed the canvas against the frame, is a crack in the paint film.

Stronger than usual chemicals were needed to remove the tar and nicotine. On the reverse we applied a restorer’s chemical to clean and hydrate the painting. Cleaning to the front has had a stunning effect. Wood was known for his Bluebonnet paintings, and you get some of that blue in the sky. Cleaning also reveals the intimacy of the brushstrokes and reveals the technical ability of Wood.

After in-painting, re-stretch, re-fit and conservation varnish, this painting will be all done. Stay tuned for more, the transformation photos are sure to be remarkable.

Robert William Wood was one of the most prolific landscape painters in American history. His career spanned several decades. Regions he is most known for include the Texas hill country, the California cost, the Rocky Mountains, upstate New York and the Sierra Nevada.

Wood’s success was unusual in that he did very little promotion of his own work. Instead he placed faith in the natural appeal and time-enduring qualities that strove for, dedicating himself to his craft.

He was born in Sundgate, Kent, England, and immigrated to the United States in 1910. Subsisting on odd jobs and traveling heavily, Wood, along with his family, finally settled for a time in San Antonio, Texas where he became a pupil of Jose Arpa, a Spanish painter who studied at the Seville Academy.

Wood’s style began in the vein of 19th century English Landscape and evolved to include impressionist brushstrokes and more vibrant colors. Robert Wood continued to paint until his death. He died in Bishop, California.