Conservation of Duane Hanson Sculpture

Part of the role of art museums is not only to display works to the public but also to care for and keep these objects safe for future generations. One way we accomplish this goal is by continually assessing the status of the collection to determine whether or not conservation should be carried out. For the past few years, Duane Hanson’s High School Student has been on our conservation list, but it was only recently that a donor stepped forward to support this endeavor.

In the past 20 years that High School Student has been at the FIA, the effects of time and light have taken their toll. The clothes and accessories—especially the pink shirt that the student wears—have faded and frayed at the edges. This is a natural effect as these clothes—just ordinary, store-bought, off-the-rack—were never intended to be constantly worn for over two decades! Additionally, over time, the oil paint surface on the bronze sculpture has some minor abrading and flaking, especially in places where the figure, which is meant to lean back casually, touches the wall. Even his hair needs to be carefully cleaned, and, in some places, replaced where loss has occurred.

The conservation of this work took 3 months and was executed by conservator and sculptor Tin Ly based in Florida. Mr. Ly worked with Duane Hanson as his assistant for over ten years and consulted with the Duane Hanson Estate to ensure authenticity of clothing and accessories. As part of that consultation, Maja Hanson, the artist’s daughter who has also worked as a professional costume designer, restored the shirt when a suitable period replacement could not be located. Another result of working with the Hanson Estate was the discovery that the sculpture, which depicts the artist’s son, was actually a high school student not a college student as previously titled in the files.

The FIA would like to thank Ms. Susie Thompson for her generous support in sponsoring the conservation of High School Student. Ms. Thompson continues a legacy of giving to the FIA began by her great-grandfather George Crapo Willson, the grandson of Michigan’s 15th governor, who was among the initial founders and benefactors of the FIA. His daughter, Susie’s grandmother, Frances Willson Thompson also supported the growth of the museum through her charitable giving. The galleries that house our Pre-Columbian, Native American, African, and Asian objects are named after father and daughter, respectively. Dr. and Mrs. Jack Thompson, founders of the Thompson Lecture and Susie’s parents, have also given generously to initiatives in the FIA Art School. We are grateful to Susie Thompson for her continued support.

Duane Hanson – College Student

Duane Hanson
American, 1925–1996
High School Student, 1990
polychromed bronze, cloth, fiber, leather, paper and rubber
70 x 24 x 18 inches
Bequest of Mary Mallery Davis, by exchange, 1994.1
Art © Estate of Duane Hanson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Barry Bauman
barry bauman

After receiving his Bachelor's Degree in 1969 from Beloit College, Barry Bauman attended Graduate School at the University of Chicago. In 1971, he received his Master's Degree in Art History with a specialization in Dutch Baroque painting. One year later he joined the Conservation Department at The Art Institute of Chicago and served the museum for eleven years leaving as the Associate Conservator of Paintings. He has been a visiting conservator with the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In 1982, he was elected a Fellow of the American Institute for Conservation.

The following year Barry Bauman founded the Chicago Conservation Center as a resource facility for the conservation of paintings, works of art on paper, objects, frames, murals and textiles. The Center grew to become the largest private facility in America. Major projects included the conservation of 172 flood-damaged paintings for the Chicago Historical Society and, in a two-million dollar undertaking, the preservation of over 300 WPA and pre-WPA murals for the Chicago Public Schools.

Bauman organized the national symposium, "Grant Writing, Fund Raising and Management Strategy for Conservation Programs." Speakers included representatives from the Institute for Museum Services, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the J. Paul Getty Trust. He has reviewed conservation grants for both the Institute of Museum Services and the Getty Conservation Institute.

Barry Bauman has written articles for The Journal of the American Institute for Conservation and The International Journal of Museum Management . He has been the focus of numerous newspaper, radio and television interviews and his treatment of Theodore Robinson's "View of the Columbian Exposition" was featured on WTTW, Chicago's Public Broadcasting Station. He has also undertaken government-funded General Conservation Surveys for sixty-one museums throughout America.

In January of 2004, Barry Bauman left the private sector to establish America's first national conservation laboratory dedicated to offering complimentary conservation services to museums and non-profit organizations. He lives in River Forest, Illinois.

Conservation Pieces for the FIA
Russian icons have been used for anagogical purposes for church prayer and personal use. With these understandings, the conservator is often more conservative with respect to their treatment. The fact that they were carried and transported as necessary certainly led to inadvertent damage. But this type of damage becomes part of the character of each piece. The two images below represent just such a discrepancy where one image is preserved to the edges while the other shows more typical damage from constant handling and use.

Russian Icon
23 x 17

Russian Icon
9 x 11

As an artist, the Neapolitan Salvatore Postiglione (1861-1906) would well have understood the hours required for training with only an indefinite possibility of future success. An image of artistic study will always carry an autobiographical touch. The wonderful composition on the left brings the viewer into the scene as if we are musical voyeurs participating in a solemn moment. The awkward unfamiliar hand position is cleverly presented. The right image, "Death of a Saint" has similar abilities to include the viewer. A space has been opened compositionally for just this purpose. All four paintings are owned by the Flint Institute of Arts, Flint, Michigan.
Barry Bauman, "2006 Participating Institutions",

Death of a Saint
Death of a Saint
9 x 11
Girl With a Violin
during cleaningafter treatment
Salvatore Postiglione
Boy With a Violin
36 x 44

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