what you get is what you see

A fascinating article in ARTNews about the conservation and curating challenges of contemporary art. There are sculptures by Eve Hesse that can't travel or be shown anymore because they're deteriorating. Latex hardens, darkens, goes brittle, and disintegrates.

A certain cough drop used in a pile sculpture by Felix Gonzalez-Torres is now manufactured with a different wrapper. One curator decided to approximate the appearance of the old wrappers using a mix of yellow- and blue-wrapped candy. Another decided to use the same brand of cough drop, just with the current wrapper, since the cough drops were important to Felix's father.

Curators and conservators are interviewing and consulting with artists while they're still alive, but most of the time LONG before they've ever thought about their own mortality or the legacy of their work.

We've collected several works that exist only on paper, as a set of instructions and schematics and guidelines and restrictions. They sure store easily, and they give a (false?) comfort that comes from not having to worry about people poking a sculpture or the sun fading the paper. But after reading this article, I can't feel too confident about fully understanding how to understand and stay true to artists' intentions.

Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

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first published: September 16, 2002.

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