Finding Aid

ADP Archive, Menil Archives, The Menil Collection, Houston

Guide to the Artists Documentation Program oral history interviews and records

VI2000.020


Summary Information

Repository
ADP Archive, Menil Archives, The Menil Collection, Houston
Creator
Artists Documentation Program.
Title
Artists Documentation Program oral history interviews and records
ID
VI2000.020
Date [bulk]
Bulk, 1991-2008
Date [inclusive]
1990-2014
Extent
23.0 Cubic feet 3 record cartons, 20 archives boxes, and 2 shelves.
Language
English
Abstract
Forty-two video interviews recorded between 1991-2014. The bulk of the interviews went through video post-production editing and publication in 2011. Interviewees include contemporary artists such as Ann Hamilton, Brice Marden, Cy Twombly, and Jasper Johns. Recorded as part of the Artists Documentation Program (ADP), with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The ADP was established in 1990 to create a historical record of contemporary artists’ original intent and opinions regarding conservation and exhibition of their works. Included in this collection are video transcripts, timecoded subject indices, and administrative records.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item/interview (format), date; Artists Documentation Program oral history interviews and records. Menil Archives, The Menil Collection, Houston.

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Biographical/Historical Note

In 1990, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded a grant to the Menil Collection for Carol Mancusi-Ungaro to create a series of interviews with artists in front of their works of art in order to understand a great deal more than had hitherto been known about artists’ materials and techniques. The funding enabled the filming of the interviews that were intended primarily as research documents. Unlike programmed questionnaires that were widely used by museums at the time, this unique approach was designed to capture the artist’s attitude toward the aging of the art and those aspects of its preservation that were of paramount importance to the artist. Structured as a conversation between the artist and conservator, the intent was to document the current state of the work of art under discussion as well as the artist’s intonation and thought processes that lay behind his or her opinions. These important features were, and continue to be, lost in written questionnaires and published interviews.

From the outset, it was understood that the interviews would serve as in-house records that could be viewed by scholars and other interested individuals by appointment at the Menil Collection. However, given the increasing historical importance of the artists interviewed and the ground-breaking nature of the project, which became known as the Artists Documentation Program (ADP), requests for access grew beyond what was originally imagined. Simultaneously, the scope of the artists interviewed grew geographically. While Elizabeth Lunning and Brad Epley continued the ADP program at the Menil Collection, additional interviews consistent with the ADP method were conducted and housed in Cambridge and New York after Ms. Mancusi-Ungaro left the Menil in 2001 to pursue dual roles at the Center for the Technical Study of Modern Art/Harvard Art Museums, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Initially, the ADP served to inform the caretakers of art at the Menil Collection about the attitude of an artist toward the preservation of his or her work and to provide conservators with concrete information about favored materials and techniques. More than simply a fact-finding mission, the ADP project continues to explore how an artist manipulates material for visual effect. This process is as varied and as personal as the art that is created. Hence, in order for a creator to share this information, a level of trust must be established between the artist and conservator. When this privileged exchange occurs, a previously unimaginable level of insight is imparted.

A steady stream of requests to view the interviews demonstrated the influential nature of their approach and the increasing relevance of their content. A project funded in 2009 by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation established a permanent ADP interview archive at the Menil Collection.
Carol Mancusi-Ungaro serves as associate director for conservation and research at the Whitney Museum of American Art and founding director of the Center for the Technical Study of Modern Art at the Harvard Art Museums. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Connecticut College in 1968 and a Master of Arts degree from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University in 1970. For 19 years she served as the chief conservator of the Menil Collection. During that time, she consulted on the conservation of 20th century paintings at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and founded the Artists Documentation Program wherein she interviews artists about the technical nature of their art. She has lectured widely on the conservation of modern art and contributed to monographs on Jasper Johns, Brice Marden, Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock and to the catalogue raisonné of Barnett Newman. In 2004, she received the College Art Association/Heritage Preservation Award for Distinction in Scholarship and Conservation and in 2009 she was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the first practicing conservator to be so honored. In her joint position, she continues to engage in research and documenting the materials and techniques of living artists as well as other issues pertaining to the conservation of modern art.

Bradford Epley joined the Menil Collection in 1999 as assistant paintings conservator. In 2006, he was appointed chief conservator, overseeing the museum’s conservation laboratory as well as administering the Artists Documentation Program. After completing a B.A. in Chemistry at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, Epley received his Masters and earned the Certificate of Advanced Study in Art Conservation at the State University of New York College at Buffalo. His graduate internships include programs at the Denver Art Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. His first Menil post followed a post-graduate fellowship in painting and conservation and conservation science at Hamilton Kerr Institute at the University of Cambridge. A member of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC), the International Institute for Conservation (IIC), and the International Council of Museums (ICOM), Epley has published and lectured on a broad range of issues and projects in the field.

Laurie McDonald is a video artist, writer, director, producer, camera operator, and editor. McDonald serves as the primary filmmaker and video editor for the Artists Documentation Program. She has received a National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artist Fellowship and four American Film Institute/NEA Fellowships. Her video art has been exhibited nationally and internationally at a variety of venues and festivals, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Tokyo, Barcelona, and Hong Kong Video Festivals. She has taught video production and aesthetics at Brown University, the Rhode Island School of Design, and at the University of Houston.

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Scope and Contents

This collection consists of 42 video oral history interviews of contemporary artists and their close associates conducted by professional conservators between 1991 and 2014 at the Menil Collection, Houston; the Whitney Museum of American Art; and the Center for the Technical Study of Modern Art, Harvard Art Museums.

The interviews range from approximately 30 minutes to three hours in length and document artists’ attitudes toward future conservation and exhibition of their works, as well as their working methods and materials. Interviewees discuss other factors affecting the work, including artists’ training and outside influences. With the one exception of Cy Twombly, who requested not to have his likeness appear on video, participants are interviewed on camera alongside artworks in various locations, including conservation studios and exhibition spaces. There is no fixed list of questions, so each interview is unique. In a few instances, interviews were conducted with late artists’ collaborators or studio assistants, who possessed unique knowledge of their working methods and materials.

In addition to the full-length artist interviews, the collection includes two ancillary videos.
Original Intent: The Artist’s Voice contains selected excerpts from ADP interviews conducted in the early 1990s.
Original Intent: The Artist & Conservator in Dialogue documents a public presentation given by Carol Mancusi-Ungaro in 2000 at the Menil Collection, Houston, in which she discusses the importance of artist interviews to conservation practice.

The Artists Documentation Program received three grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation: the first in 1990, to support interview production; the second in 2009, to establish a permanent, central archive for all ADP interviews at the Menil Collection; and the third in 2011, to support program outreach and parternship assessment. The collection includes records related to these grants, as well as records related to the program’s administration.

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Arrangement

The collection is arranged into four series:

Series 1.
 Videorecordings, 1991-2014
Series 2.
 Administrative Files, Interview Production and Post-production, 1990-2014
Series 3.
 Administrative Files, Program Records, 1990-2014
Series 4.
 Research Aids, Interviews, 1991-2014

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

ADP Archive, Menil Archives, The Menil Collection, Houston

1511 Branard Street
Houston, 77006
713-525-9400
adparchive@menil.org

 

Conditions Governing Access

The bulk of this collection has been digitized and is available online via the ADP’s website. Use of material not on the website requires an appointment with the Menil Archives. Reproduction and/or publication of any material from the collection requires written permission from both the Menil Archives, The Menil Collection, Houston, and the ADP partner institution that produced the interview. Access restrictions apply to the ADP interviews of John Chamberlain and Dan Cytron/William Agee (on Sam Francis), as well as the ancillary recording,
Original Intent: The Artist’s Voice. Researchers should contact the Menil Archives for access to those materials.

Accruals

The bulk of this collection was received by the Menil Archives in 2000. Additional materials were added to the collection as a result of a digitization initiative in 2007 and the ADP Archive Project grant in 2011. New interviews will be added to the collection on an ongoing basis.

Existence and Location of Copies

The bulk of this collection, including videorecordings and research aids, has been digitized and made available on the ADP website at http://adp.menil.org. Additional items typically not digitized include photographs of artwork, slides, clippings, publications, interviewer notes, and other printed material. DVD viewing copies of all interviews are held by the Menil Archives, the Conservation Department of the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Center for the Technical Study of Modern Art, Harvard Art Museums.

Existence and Location of Originals

All uncut, original master video recordings of interviews are maintained by the respective ADP institutions that produced them. Preservation copies of all video edit master recordings are held by the Menil Archives.

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Related Materials

Related Materials

Other resources relating to artists and works discussed in Artists Documentation Program interviews include exhibition and object records in the archives and registration departments of the Menil Collection, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Harvard Art Museums. The Menil Conservation Department maintains fabrication, installation, and conservation records for some works, including commissioned installations by Dan Flavin and Max Neuhaus.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
  • Harvard Art Museums.
  • Menil Collection (Houston, Tex.).
  • Whitney Museum of American Art.

Genre(s)

  • interviews
  • oral histories (document genres)

Personal Name(s)

  • Agee, William C.
  • Arman, 1928-2005
  • Bell, Larry, 1939-
  • Chang, Angela, 1974-
  • Chin, Mel, 1951-
  • Currin, John, 1962-
  • Cytron, Daniel, 1945-
  • Drew, Leonardo, 1961-
  • Enriquez, Mary Schneider
  • Epley, Bradford
  • Flavin, Dan, 1996
  • Francis, Sam, 1923-1994
  • Frecon, Suzan, 1941-
  • Glasco, Joseph M., 1925-1996
  • Gober, Robert, 1954–
  • Gottschaller, Pia
  • Guyton, Wade, 1972-
  • Haiml, Christa
  • Hamilton, Ann, 1956-
  • Harrison, Rachel, 1966-
  • Heizer, Michael
  • Herms, George, 1935-
  • Hickey-Friedman, Laramie
  • Hopps, Walter, 1933-2005
  • Johns, Jasper, 1930-
  • Kienholz, Edward, 1927-1994
  • Kienholz, Nancy Reddin, 1943-
  • Ligon, Glenn, 1960-
  • Lunning, Elizabeth
  • Lyon, Danny, 1942-
  • Mancusi-Ungaro, Carol
  • Marden, Brice, 1938-
  • McDonald, Laurie
  • McManaway, David, 1927-
  • Molesworth, Helen Anne
  • Morse, Steve
  • Neuhaus, Max, 1939-2009
  • Novros, David, 1941-
  • Robleto, Dario, 1972-
  • Rosenquist, James, 1933-
  • Ruscha, Edward, 1937-
  • Salcedo, Doris, 1958-
  • Samaras, Lucas, 1936-
  • Schneider, Gary, 1954
  • Serra, Richard, 1938–
  • Simon, Joan, 1949-
  • Stella, Frank, 1936-
  • Stingel, Rudolf, 1956-
  • Sze, Sarah, 1969-
  • Thiebaud, Wayne, 1920-
  • Tinguely, Jean, 1925-1991
  • Tuttle, Richard, 1941-
  • Twombly, Cy, 1928-2011
  • Weber, Rico
  • Weiner, Lawrence, 1940-
  • Winkler-Fosdick, Helen
  • Winters, Terry, 1949-

Subject(s)

  • Art–Conservation and restoration–Technique.
  • Art–Technique.
  • Artists’ materials.
  • Oral histories.

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Bibliography

Harris, Gareth. “What happens when I die?”
The Art Newspaper, no. 173 (October 2006).

Johnson, Patricia C. “Menil conservator ready for New York’s challenges.”
Houston Chronicle, January 15, 2001.

Kennedy, Randy. “Giving the Artists a Voice in Preserving Their Work.”
New York Times, June 29, 2006.

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Index of Interviews by Artist

Contributor codes: The Menil Collection (TMC), Whitney Museum of American Art (WMAA), Center for the Technical Study of Modern Art, Harvard Art Museum (CTSMA)

Name(s)

  • Arman:  1991 November 15 (TMC/Interview #: 1991b)
  • Bell, Larry:  2006 April 18 (TMC/Interview #: 2006b)
  • Chamberlain, John:  2000 March 27 (TMC/Interview #: 2000b)
  • Chin, Mel:  1991 July 22 (TMC/Interview #: 1991a); 2014 February 21 (WMAA/Interview #: 2014a)
  • Currin, John:  2004 February 21 (WMAA/Interview #: 2004b)
  • Drew, Leonardo:  2008 January 10 (CTSMA/Interview #: 2008a)
  • Flavin, Dan (discussion with Steve Morse, artist’s assistant):  1998 November 19 (TMC/Interview #: 1998b)
  • Francis, Sam (discussion with Dan Cytron, artist’s assistant and William Agee, art historian:  1999 October 7 (TMC/Interview #: 1999a)
  • Frecon, Suzan:  2012 April 9 (TMC/Interview #: 2012c)
  • Glasco, Joseph:  1995 November 17 (TMC/Interview #: 1995b)
  • Gober, Robert:  2013 April 18 (TMC/Interview #: 2013a)
  • Guyton, Wade:  2010 May 24 (WMAA/Interview #: 2010a)
  • Hamilton, Ann:  2007 July 30 (WMAA/Interview #: 2007a)
  • Harrison, Rachel:  2007 September 20 (CTSMA/Interview #: 2007c)
  • Hawkinson, Tim:  2005 February 8 (WMAA/Interview #: 2005a)
  • Heizer, Michael:  1991 December 10 (TMC/Interview #: 1991c)
  • Herms, George:  1993 November 19 (TMC/Interview #: 1993b)
  • Johns, Jasper:  1996 February 15 (TMC/Interview #: 1996a)
  • Kienholz, Ed (discussion with Walter Hopps, Founding Director of TMC):  1998 August 19 (TMC/Interview #: 1998a)
  • Kienholz, Nancy:  1995 October 30 (TMC/Interview #: 1995a)
  • Ligon, Glenn:  2011 May 2 (WMAA/Interview #: 2011a)
  • Lyon, Danny:  2012 March 27 (TMC/Interview #: 2012b)
  • Marden, Brice:  1992 October 1 (TMC/Interview #:1992b)
  • McManaway, David:  1992 March 6 (TMC/Interview #: 1992a)
  • Neuhaus, Max:  2008 May 2 (TMC/Interview #: 2008c)
  • Novros, David:  1997 December 2 (TMC/Interview #: 1997b); 2005 September 12 (TMC/Interview #: 2005b)
  • Robleto, Dario:  2006 October 21 (WMAA/Interview #: 2006d)
  • Rosenquist, James:  1993 October 21 (TMC/Interview #: 1993a)
  • Ruscha, Edward:  2013 October 21 (WMAA/Interview #: 2013d)
  • Salcedo, Doris:  2013 April 22 (CTSMA/Interview #:2013b)
  • Samaras, Lucas:  2004 January 26 (WMAA/Interview #: 2004a)
  • Schneider, Gary:  2012 June 28 (CTSMA/Interview #: 2012d)
  • Serra, Richard:  2012 February 27 (TMC/Interview #: 2012a)
  • Stella, Frank:  2006 June 9 (TMC/Interview #: 2006c)
  • Stingel, Rudolf:  2007 September 17 (WMAA/Interview #: 2007b)
  • Sze, Sarah:  2008 June 30 (WMAA/Interview #: 2008d)
  • Thiebaud, Wayne:  2001 June 27 (WMAA/Interview #: 2001a)
  • Tinguely, Jean (discussion with Rico Weber, artist’s assistant):  1997 March 13 (TMC/Interview #: 1997a)
  • Tuttle, Richard:  2006 January 30 (WMAA/Interview #: 2006a)
  • Twombly, Cy:  2000 September 17 (TMC/Interview #: 2000c)
  • Weiner, Lawrence:  2008 January 16 (WMAA/Interview #: 2008b)
  • Winters, Terry:  2013 June 4 (WMAA/Interview #: 2013c)

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Collection Inventory

 Series 1. Videorecordings 1991-2011   18.0 Cubic feet 23 boxes.

Scope and Contents note

Physical videorecordings subseries consists of original videorecordings on tape, duplicate recordings on tape, and gold master DVDs for generating viewing copies. Digital videorecordings subseries consists of digitized videorecordings in Quicktime/MOV (preservation) and H.264/MP4 (access) formats.

Arrangement note

Videorecordings are arranged physically by medium and format.

Conditions Governing Access

The Menil Archives has the appropriate machines for playback of recordings on Mini Digital Video Cassette (Mini DV/HDV), Digital Video Cassette (DVCAM), VHS, and DVD. The Archives does not have compatible machines for recordings that are on Betacam SP, U-matic, Hi8, V1-K, or HDCam formats. Many of the recordings on older media are too fragile to be played and will need to be preserved prior to consultation. Original recordings in these formats will be closed to access.

Digitized videos are available for viewing on the ADP website. DVD copies of most interview edit masters are available for viewing in the Menil Archives. Access to all other videorecordings is restricted; consult repository for details.

Other Finding Aids note

The Menil Archives maintains a database of all ADP videorecordings, including descriptive, technical, and preservation metadata for digital and physical objects. Consult the repository for more specific information.

 1.1 Physical videorecordings

Box
1-23

 1.2 Digital videorecordings

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 Series 2. Administrative Files, Interview Production and Postproduction 1991-2011   1.5 Cubic feet 1 record carton.

Arrangement note

Arranged chronologically by interview date.  Individual folders are further arranged, where applicable, as follows: a. news clipping and gallery brochures; b. internal records relating to conservation of works; c. interviewer notes; d. correspondence and other records relating to interview production (chronological); and e. correspondence and other records relating to interview rights and reproduction (chronological).

Folder 1: Mel Chin, 1991a / Folder 2: Arman, 1991b / Folder 3: REDACTED, 1991c / Folder 4: David McManaway, 1992a / Folder 5: Brice Marden, 1992b / Folder 6: James Rosenquist, 1993a / Folder 7: George Herms, 1993b / Folder 8: Kenneth Noland, 1993c / Folder 9: Original Intent: The Artist’s Voice, 1994a / Folder 10: Nancy Reddin Kienholz, 1995a / Folder 11: Joseph Glasco, 1995b / Folder 12: Jasper Johns, 1996a / Folder 13: Jean Tinguely (Rico Weber on…), 1997a / Folder 14: David Novros, 1997b / Folder 15: Edward Kienholz (Walter Hopps on…), 1998a / Folder 16: Dan Flavin (Steve Morse on…), 1998b / Folder 17: Sam Francis (Dan Cytron and William Agee on…), 1999a / Folder 18: John Chamberlain, 2000b / Folder 19: Cy Twombly, 2000c / Folder 20: Wayne Thiebaud, 2001a / Folder 21: Lucas Samaras, 2004a / Folder 22: John Currin, 2004b / Folder 23: Tim Hawkinson, 2005a / Folder 24: David Novros, 2005b / Folder 25: Richard Tuttle, 2006a / Folder 26: Larry Bell, 2006b / Folder 27: Frank Stella, 2006c / Folder 28: Dario Robleto, 2006d / Folder 29: Ann Hamilton, 2007a / Folder 30: Rudolf Stingel, 2007b / Folder 31: Rachel Harrison, 2007c / Folder 32: Leonardo Drew, 2008a / Folder 33: Lawrence Weiner, 2008b / Folder 34: Max Neuhaus, 2008c / Folder 35: Sarah Sze, 2008d / Folder 36: Wade Guyton, 2010a / Folder 37: Glenn Ligon, 2011a / Folder 38: Richard Serra, 2012a / Folder 39: Danny Lyon, 2012b / Folder 40: Suzan Frecon, 2012c / Folder 41: Gary Schneider, 2012d / Folder 42: Robert Gober, 2013a / Folder 43: Doris Salcedo, 2013b / Folder 44: Terry Winters, 2013c / Folder 45: Edward Ruscha, 2013d / Folder 46: Mel Chin, 2014a

Conditions Governing Access note

Access to these files is restricted; consult repository for details.

Box
24

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 Series 3. Administrative Files, Program Records 1990-2011   1.5 Cubic feet 1 record carton.

Arrangement note

Folder 1: Tape Duplication Project, General Correspondence, 2002-2003 / Folder 2: Tape Duplication Project, Technical Correspondence and Invoices, 2002-2004 / Folder 3 – Tape Duplication Project, Inventories and Permissions, 2000-2004 / Folder 4: Tape Digitization Project, Correspondence and Filmmaker Notes, 2007-2008 / Folder 5: Tape Digitization Project, Budgets and Invoices, 2001-2008 / Folder 6: Audiovisual Preservation, Correspondence, 1991-2006 / Folder 7: Laserdisc Project, 1998 / Folder 8: Mellon Foundation Grant, 1990 / Folder 9: Mellon Foundation Grant, 2009 (ADP Archive Project) / Folder 10: Interview Transcription, 2009- / Folder 11: ADP Website / Folder 12: Use Requests, 1995- / Folder 13: Videography / Folder 14: Miscellaneous Notes and Correspondence

Conditions Governing Access note

Access to these files is restricted; consult repository for details.

Box
25

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 Series 4. Research Aids, Interviews 1991-2011   3.0 Cubic feet 2 record cartons.

Scope and Contents note

In most instances, each interview research aid file includes a full transcript of the edit master recording and a timecoded subject index corresponding to the edit master recording.

Arrangement note

Arranged chronologically by interview date.

Folder 1: Mel Chin, 1991a / Folder 2: Arman, 1991b / Folder 3: REDACTED, 1991c / Folder 4: David McManaway, 1992a / Folder 5: Brice Marden, 1992b / Folder 6: James Rosenquist, 1993a / Folder 7: George Herms, 1993b / Folder 8: Kenneth Noland, 1993c / Folder 9: Original Intent: The Artist’s Voice, 1994a / Folder 10: Nancy Reddin Kienholz, 1995a / Folder 11: Joseph Glasco, 1995b / Folder 12: Jasper Johns, 1996a / Folder 13: Jean Tinguely (Rico Weber on…), 1997a / Folder 14: David Novros, 1997b / Folder 15: Edward Kienholz (Walter Hopps on…), 1998a / Folder 16: Dan Flavin (Steve Morse on…), 1998b / Folder 17: Sam Francis (Dan Cytron and William Agee on…), 1999a / Folder 18: John Chamberlain, 2000b / Folder 19: Cy Twombly, 2000c / Folder 20: Wayne Thiebaud, 2001a / Folder 21: Lucas Samaras, 2004a / Folder 22: John Currin, 2004b / Folder 23: Tim Hawkinson, 2005a / Folder 24: David Novros, 2005b / Folder 25: Richard Tuttle, 2006a / Folder 26: Larry Bell, 2006b / Folder 27: Frank Stella, 2006c / Folder 28: Dario Robleto, 2006d / Folder 29: Ann Hamilton, 2007a / Folder 30: Rudolf Stingel, 2007b / Folder 31: Rachel Harrison, 2007c / Folder 32: Leonardo Drew, 2008a / Folder 33: Lawrence Weiner, 2008b / Folder 34: Max Neuhaus, 2008c / Folder 35: Sarah Sze, 2008d / Folder 36: Wade Guyton, 2010a / Folder 37: Glenn Ligon, 2011a / Folder 38: Richard Serra, 2012a / Folder 39: Danny Lyon, 2012b / Folder 40: Suzan Frecon, 2012c / Folder 41: Gary Schneider, 2012d / Folder 42: Robert Gober, 2013a / Folder 43: Doris Salcedo, 2013b / Folder 44: Terry Winters, 2013c / Folder 45: Edward Ruscha, 2013d / Folder 46: Mel Chin, 2014a

Box
26-27

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The Artists Documentation Program (ADP) interviews artists and their close associates in order to gain a better understanding of their materials, working techniques, and intent for conservation of their works. All interviews are conducted by conservators in a museum or studio setting.

The Artists Documentation Program has been generously supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.