Conserving Contemporary Art – Glenn Wharton

In 805conversations by Mark Sylvester

How do you want the public to see this art?

I love the process of Discovery.”

Glenn Wharton, Clinical Associate Professor of Museum Studies at New York University sat with Mark and Patrick to talk about art, new media, community, and conservation.

“How do you want the public to see this art?” Is one of the primary questions Glenn would ask artists during an interview process when he’s documenting the art, how it’s to be displayed or portrayed. This discussion and the resulting threads that cover Glenn’s career in art conservation are fascinating for sure.

This wide-ranging conversation covered a lot of ground including:

  • The definition of a ‘clinical associate professor.’
  • Glenn’s a UCBS Gaucho!
  • How and when he fell in love with the conservation of art (Mt Calvary monk in Santa Barbara)
  • Volunteering at the Getty
  • Replication vs. Restoration
  • A sidebar conversation about his work on the King Kamehameha statue in  Hawaii and how that work spurred a complete change in how he approached art and his career
  • Art values vs. Community values – intersection
  • What is Community-based Art and why is it so fascinating
  • What is Participatory Art
  • Note: Patrick, remember, is an Art Professor and this was a conversation that could have gone on for several hours. He threatened to mute my mike so they could chat 😉
  • His work at MOMA and the field of time-based media
  • Mark brought up the discussion of the preservation of Digital Art (think Wavefront and animation). Glenn was the first Time-Based Conservator in the United States. This was before it was even a field of study. He currently is one of the top experts in the world.
  • An in-depth talk about the interaction between the museum and the artist with several amusing anecdotes (wait until you hear the one about Tino Sehgal)
  • The Variable Media Initiative
While we enjoy every conversation, there are times when a true pioneer joins us in the studio. Glenn is one, and we sincerely appreciate the time he spent with us. We had a bit of a post-interview conversation about the role of 805conversations, we speak mostly about business, and in this instance felt that are focused entirely on cultural issues was important. We hope you agree.