Posts by Cindy Albertson
October 31, 2013  |  Collection & Exhibitions, Conservation
The Discovery of Magritte’s The Enchanted Pose

As indicated in the previous post in this series, MoMA paintings conservators Cindy Albertson, Anny Aviram, and Michael Duffy have been studying five Magritte paintings for the past two years in preparation for Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary 1926–1938.

December 8, 2010  |  Artists, Conservation
Conservation of Floor Cake (Part 8)

This is the final blog post for the conservation of Claes Oldenburg’s Floor Cake.

Below you can see the individual layers after cleaning.

September 9, 2010  |  Artists, Conservation
Conservation of Floor Cake (Part 7)

Over the course of the past few months the conservation of Floor Cake has been completed.  We would like to use the next posts to describe our treatment and the results.

Before cleaning we consolidated any areas of flaking paint with Lascaux Acrylic Adhesive.

Lascaux was chosen for its low viscosity or ability to wick under paint and mattness upon drying.

We then found that a combination of cleaning techniques yielded the safest and best results. We first vacuumed the entire surface of the cake with a variable-suction vacuum set to very low suction. Then we began with dry cleaning to see just how much dirt and grime we could remove without moisture. Of all of our methods, we found rubber soot sponges to be very gentle and highly effective. We cut the sponges into small, manageable wedges and then lightly rubbed and patted the entire surface overall, including the drop and sprinkle, to remove an initial layer of grime.

May 21, 2010  |  Artists, Conservation
Conservation of Floor Cake (Part 6)

At AIC, Cindy Albertson and Margo Delidow discuss the history and treatment of Floor Cake

We’ve taken a short break from writing about Claes Oldenburg’s iconic Floor Cake sculpture—currently undergoing conservation treatment here at MoMA—to prepare a lecture for last week’s annual meeting of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC), in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Conservators, educators, and scientists gather each year to discuss new types of treatments for works of art and to examine the effects of past treatment. Our presentation focused on the history of Floor Cake and its condition (please see our previous posts), as we have been working to conserve this unique and popular work for the past several months.

March 8, 2010  |  Artists, Conservation
Claes Oldenburg: Conservation of Floor Cake (Week 5)

In our previous posts we discussed the materials and methods used by Claes Oldenburg to create Floor Cake, the artist’s unique and popular piece of painted cake currently undergoing conservation treatment here at MoMA. This week, we investigate the properties of Floor Cake’s surface dirt, to help us prepare an optimal cleaning solution to remove dirt and grime from the sculpture’s painted surface.

Floor Cake disassembled during treatment

November 23, 2009  |  Artists, Conservation
Claes Oldenburg: Conservation of Floor Cake (Week 4)
Floor Cake, MoMA gallery

Floor Cake, installed in a MoMA gallery

Looking forward, our preservation of Claes Oldenburg’s Floor Cake aims to bring the object to a state that more closely resembles the artist’s original intent. It will also stabilize the condition of the sculpture so that it can both endure a rigorous exhibition schedule and be safe in long-term storage. To develop a successful treatment plan, we considered the sculpture in distinct sections based on its materials:

November 16, 2009  |  Conservation
Claes Oldenburg: Conservation of Floor Cake (Week 3)

In last week’s post, we discussed how Claes Oldenburg made his oversized soft sculpture Floor Cake, and we considered some of its current condition issues. This week we are conducting a more in-depth examination of the materials Oldenburg used to create the work. Material analysis will assist us in the development of a plan to treat the sculpture. Our treatment decisions may change as our understanding of Floor Cake increases through continued examination of both the object and its place in art history.

Oldenburg painting his first soft sculptures on the floor of the Green Gallery. Floor Cake can be seen in the background. Image Courtesy of MoMA

Oldenburg painting his first soft sculptures on the floor of the Green Gallery. Floor Cake can be seen in the background. Image courtesy of MoMA

When developing a treatment plan for a work of art, it is essential to understand as much as possible about the materials the artist used. At MoMA, we keep extensive files on the artists and objects in our collection—from curatorial files containing past articles, acquisition information, and correspondence, to Conservation Department records documenting previous treatments, condition history, and technical analysis, among other materials—so that’s where we usually start. After reviewing all those sources, we undertook a thorough examination of the object. We began by photographing Floor Cake using a variety of lighting techniques to attempt to tease out as much information as possible. Under normal light conditions we observed that the chocolate drop appeared significantly more saturated than the rest of the cake. The drop has that gloss and sheen we associate with an oil-based paint. We suspected that Oldenburg was using acrylic paint as well as an oil-based paint he may have had left over from The Store. (For The Store, as we discussed in our first post, he used an alkyd resin paint or an ester modified with drying oils.)

November 9, 2009  |  Artists, Conservation
Claes Oldenburg: Conservation of Floor Cake (Week 2)

Last Monday, we talked about the history of Claes Oldenburg’s iconic Floor Cake sculpture, which is currently in MoMA’s Conservation Department for study and treatment. In this post we’ll discuss how the sculpture was made and how Floor Cake’s condition has resulted from natural aging combined with a heavy exhibition schedule.

Detail - filling inside cake

The filling inside Floor Cake consists of polyurethane foam and cardboard boxes.

For his seminal 1962 triptych Floor Cake, Floor Burger, and Floor Cone, Oldenburg enlisted the help of his first wife, Patti Mucha, who used a portable Singer sewing machine and heavyweight canvas to sew the covers of these large objects. Oldenburg then coated the objects’ surfaces with paint. These works might be described as sewn object-paintings. Floor Cake, for example, consists of five layers of sewn-and-painted canvas, with two chocolate-colored layers alternating with three thinner beige layers, topped by yellow-ocher drops of decorative “icing.”

October 31, 2009  |  Artists, Behind the Scenes, Conservation
Claes Oldenburg: Conservation of Floor Cake

This is the first post by the Conservation Department at MoMA. We plan to give you a behind-the-scenes look at one of our current projects. In this project, Sculpture and Painting Conservation collaborate on an investigation into one of MoMA’s iconic Pop sculptures.

Claes Oldenburg - Floor Cake (Giant Piece of Cake) 1962

Claes Oldenburg. Floor Cake. 1962

Claes Oldenburg’s Floor Cake (1962) entered into the Painting and Sculpture Department at MoMA in 1975. Measuring five by nine feet, this popular piece of painted cake has been heavily exhibited in the Museum and across the United States, and has made three transatlantic voyages. The forty-seven-year old sculpture is now in the Conservation Department lab for study and treatment.