Conservators of contemporary art face unique challenges. Unlike old masters, contemporary works are often materially ephemeral, time-based, interactive, or conceptual. In restoring these works, conservators rely heavily on documentation of an artist’s materials, techniques, and intent, frequently needing to consult the artist directly. When an artist is no longer living, the available information can become quite scarce.
To address this problem, conservator Carol Mancusi-Ungaro conceived of the Artists Documentation Program (ADP), in which conservators interview artists in the presence of their artworks, in order to understand their materials and techniques. The ADP creates a lasting record of an artist’s attitudes toward restoration and exhibition of their works–a “living will” for their work.
Founded at the Menil in 1990, with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the ADP has incorporated interviews from the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Center for the Technical Study of Modern Art/Harvard Art Museums, where Ms. Mancusi-Ungaro holds dual positions. The program has captured interviews with such noted artists as Frank Stella, Jasper Johns, and Cy Twombly.
- Carol Mancusi-Ungaro, Founding Director, Artists Documentation Program; Founding Director, Center for the Technical Study of Modern Art, Harvard Art Museums; and Associate Director for Conservation and Research, Whitney Museum of American Art
- Brad Epley, Director, Artists Documentation Program; and Chief Conservator, The Menil Collection