Previous Caroline Villers Research Fellows
CAROLINE VILLERS RESEARCH FELLOW 2012-2013
Pia Gottschaller studied art history at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich and took a diploma in the conservation of easel paintings at the Courtauld Institute in 1997. She then worked at the Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, and at The Menil Collection, Houston, where she participated in the technical study and conservation of the Rothko Chapel paintings. She received her PhD in 2003 from Technische Universität Munich for a thesis on the artistic process of Blinky Palermo. At the core of this research lay the examination of the artist’s multi-part paintings on aluminium from the 1970s, the unusually complex layer structure of which was reconstructed through visual examination, crossections, pigment/binder analysis, preparatory drawings and other documentary evidence. Subsequently, she worked as Associate Conservator at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, followed by a Postdoc Research Fellowship at Bibliotheca Hertziana, Max-Planck-Institut für Kunstgeschichte in Rome, and the position of Assistant Fine Arts Director at the German Academy Villa Massimo, Rome. Other work experiences include freelance curatorial work for private collections and museums. Her research interests focus on issues of technical art history, in particular with regard to postwar and contemporary European and American artistic practices. Among her publications are monographs on Blinky Palermo and Lucio Fontana, as well as essays on Max Beckmann, Mark Rothko, Donald Judd, David Reed, Italian postwar artists and issues of contemporary art conservation.
As the Caroline Villers Research Fellow for 2012-13, Pia will examine the work of selected modern and contemporary painters that used, or refused to use, masking tape for creating straight borders. The conscious limiting of modern abstract painters to the use of colour, surface texture and mostly geometric forms meant that each of these compositional elements received unprecedented amounts of attention, by both the creator and observer. Artists active before WW II, Kasimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian among them, occasionally used rulers or cardboard to aid them in creating straight edges and lines. But with the introduction of masking tape in Europe and the US in the late 1930s, painters were suddenly able to achieve perfectly straight borders of forms. Some practitioners like Bridget Riley, however, preferred to continue to paint their lines free-hand, often with the argument that taped edges appear ‘mechanical’ or ‘anti-human.’ Barnett Newman on the other hand presented an unsurpassed array of effects created with masking tape, and although many young contemporary artists revere him as a master, some of them state that their professional ethic forbids them the recourse to such aids. The project will also attempt to establish when tape was possibly used in the creation of an easel painting for the very first time. A second avenue of research focuses on the differences in a viewer’s perception when confronted with these very subtle qualities of line, edge, or border. In the œuvre of Mark Rothko, for instance, the introduction of tape from around 1964 onwards coincided with his wish to create images of a less subjective handwriting. In other words, inconspicuous as these variations are, their impact on our reading of a work can be profound. The project therefore aims to avoid a purely formalist examination in favour of an iconographic one, informed by history as well as science. Building on Prof. Semir Zeki’s findings in the field of neuroesthetics, a number of experiments will thus be conducted to establish if different parts of our visual brain respond to borders painted with and without tape.
Pascal Labreuche, Caroline Villers RESEARCH Fellow 2007-2008
Dr Labreuche gave two papers in the Research Forum: an introductory lecture on his research plans, and a presentation of his findings at the end of his tenure. He also presented a paper at an international conference: ‘The industrialisation of artists’ prepared canvas in 19th century Paris. Canvas and stretchers: technical developments up to the period of Impressionism’, Cologne, International Symposium, Latest research into painting techniques of the Impressionists and Postimpressionists Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud, 12, 13 and 14 June 2008. This paper was published in Zeitschrift für Kunsttechnologie und Konservierung. no 2, 2009, p. 316-328. Dr Labreuche has recently published the following papers: ‘Scientifiques, artistes et fabricants parisiens (1795-1850). Des coopérations au service de l’École française de peinture’, in Barbin, Évelyne et Le Nen, Dominique (dir.), Sciences et arts. Représentations du corps et matériaux de l’art, Paris, Vuibert, 2009, pp. 119-138; “India Rubber Painting Grounds in Britain and France in the Nineteenth Century”, Studies in Conservation, vol. 56, n° 1, 2011, pp. 14-30; and a book:
Paris, capitale de la toile à peindre, xviiie-xixe siècle, preface by Jean-Pierre Babelon, Paris, CTHS/INHA, 2011 (coll. “L’art et l’essai”, n° 9), 367 pages.
Dr. Labreuche gave two papers in the Research Forum: an introductory lecture on his research plans, and a presentation of his findings at the end of his tenure. He also presented a paper at an international conference: ‘The industrialisation of artists’ prepared canvas in 19th century Paris. Canvas and stretchers: technical developments up to the period of Impressionism’, Cologne, International Symposium, Latest research into painting techniques of the Impressionists and Postimpressionists Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud, 12, 13 and 14 June 2008. This paper was published in Zeitschrift für Kunsttechnologie und Konservierung. no 2, 2009, p. 316-328. Dr Labreuche has recently published the following paper: ‘Scientifiques, artistes et fabricants parisiens (1795-1850). Des coopérations au service de l’École française de peinture’, in Barbin, Évelyne et Le Nen, Dominique (dir.), Sciences et arts. Représentations du corps et matériaux de l’art, Paris, Vuibert, 2009, pp. 119-138.
Dr Labreuche’s research report “Artists’ supports: the spread of devices, recipes and products in 19th-C France, England and the USA. A survey based on patents, trade mark registration, and other documents”, Caroline Villers Research Fellowship Report, 3 vols, 2008, is kept in the library of the Department of Conservation and Technology at the Courtauld Institute of Art: London. An updated and revised edition will shortly be available on line on the Courtauld Institute of Art website.
Elisabeth Reissner, Caroline Villers research Fellow 2006-2007
Elisabeth Reissner took up a part-time post in the Conservation and Technology Department in October 2010. She teaches both practical conservation and object-based art history. She studied Art History at Manchester University and took the diploma in the Conservation of Easel Paintings at the Courtauld Institute in 1994. The aim of her project was the investigation of Cézanne’s materials and the way in which he used them to enquire into the nature of picture making and its relationship to the observed world. Her research focused upon the Courtauld’s nine oil paintings and five watercolours by Cézanne and a further eight Cézanne’s in the National Gallery, London collection. Close scrutiny of the paintings’ surfaces and technical study enabled a critical reading of the secondary accounts of Cézanne’s practice as well as his own theoretical statements. The fruits of this research, aided by an additional grant from the Caroline Villers Research Fellowship for a further three months of research and writing, contributed to the exhibition The Courtauld Cézannes, June to October 2008, including the catalogue essay ‘Transparency of Means: ‘Drawing’ and Colour in Cézanne’s Watercolours and Oil Paintings in the Courtauld Gallery’. Her article ‘Ways of Making: Practice and Innovation in Cézanne’s National Gallery Paintings’ appears in the National Gallery Technical Bulletin Volume 29 and is dedicated to Caroline Villers. Elisabeth Reissner continued her association with the Courtauld Research Forum through her participation in the ‘Writing Art History’ project. She is currently working on a PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art, the broad aim of which is to explore the significance in attending to the articulation of pictorial and material means and of tracing an artist’s process of manufacture.
She has lectured on her research to the Conservation and Technology Department in the Courtauld Institute and spoke at a Cézanne Study day organised by the Gallery in September 2008. The research and exhibition informed her teaching on the undergraduate course in the History of Art and Materials that she taught at UCL in 2009-10 and will continue to provide a useful case study for the MA course Curating the Art Museum at the Courtauld Institute of Art to which she contributes.
Elisabeth gave a lecture entitled ‘Image, Object, Archive.’ at the ‘Photographic Archives and the Photographic Memory of Art History’ conference at the Courtauld Institute in June 2009. In October 2009 she presented a talk ‘Cezanne: finding, not fixing, form in space.’ to the Art History Department at the University of Warwick. In May 2011 Elisabeth was one of four former Caroline Villers Research Fellows who presented their research in the Courtauld Research Forum to mark the achievements of the fellowship.
Current and Forthcoming Publications:
For publications and online links from 2011 onwards see Elisabeth Reissner’s staff web page on this site.
Catalogue essay (see above) in The Courtauld Cezannes, edited by Stephanie Buck, John House, Ernst Vegelin van Claerbergen and Barnaby Wright, published by The Courtauld Gallery in Association with Paul Holberton Publishing, London, 2008.
Article (see above) in the National Gallery Technical Bulletin Volume 29, series editor Ashok Roy, National Gallery Company Limited, Distributed by Yale University Press.