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, and frequently need to consult the artist directly. When an artist is no longer living, the informationavailable can become quite scarce.
To address this problem, the Artists Documentation Program (ADP) undertakes interviews between conservators and 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. The program has captured interviews with such noted artists as Frank Stella, Jasper Johns, and Cy Twombly.