NEW YORK, NY.- The Whitney Museum of American Art
announced a newly endowed position, the Cy Twombly Conservator of Paintings, funded by a major gift from the Cy Twombly Foundation. The gift is being made in acknowledgment of Cy Twomblys long relationship with the Whitney, which in 1979 was the first New York museum to present a solo exhibition of his work, and with Carol Mancusi-Ungaro, the Museums Melva Bucksbaum Associate Director for Conservation and Research. Associate Conservator Matthew Skopek, who joined the Whitney in 2007, has been named to the new position.
This generous gift from the Cy Twombly Foundation is profoundly meaningful to the Museum, said Adam D. Weinberg, the Whitneys Alice Pratt Brown Director. The discussions for the gift commenced before the COVID-19 crisis. When the pandemic broke out, the Foundation turned its immediate focus to a series of major grants to provide urgent support for artists and small cultural organizations, as well as hospitals and educational institutions in the United States and Europe. We are thrilled to now announce this gift from the Foundation. It is a deeply forward-looking and far-reaching commitment that will make a great difference to the Whitney not just over the next few years, but far into its future.
Weinberg continued, This gift also speaks to something that goes to the heart of both the Whitney and the Foundation: our mutual commitment to artists. It is a tribute to the Whitney and our remarkable chief conservator Carol Mancusi-Ungaro, who founded our Conservation Department and worked closely with Twombly for twenty years. Carols work has been transformational in the field, placing artists, as much as objects, at the center of the conservation process. Matt Skopek is a brilliant conservator, and we are thrilled that his position will be named in Cy Twomblys honor.
Twombly (19282011), one of the most important American artists to emerge in the second half of the twentieth century, had a long and distinguished relationship with the Whitney Museum. In addition to having his first solo exhibition at a major New York museum at the Whitney in 1979, Cy Twombly: Paintings and Drawings 19541977, he was featured in six Biennials and Annuals between 1967 and 1995. An important exhibition, Cy Twombly: Fifty Years of Works on Paper, was presented in 2005, and his work was included in America Is Hard to See, the Museums inaugural exhibition in its downtown home, in 2015.
Nicola Del Roscio, the President of the Cy Twombly Foundation, commented, Cy Twombly, like many other artists, was concerned about how art is restored, especially the treatment of paintings on canvas. I am sure that he would be very happy about our endowment of a position for restoration under the good auspices of Carol Mancusi-Ungaro, and particularly at the Whitney, which sponsored the first retrospective of Twombly in America.
Over the years, the Whitney has collected Twomblys work in various mediums through acquisitions and gifts, including five donations from the artist himself. In 1996, Twombly created a set of monoprints for the Whitney, which he then gifted to the Museum. A number of Twomblys artworks in the Museums collection were acquired between 1969 and 2008, including gifts from the Whitneys Chairman Emeritus Leonard A. Lauder. A large painting, Untitled (1964/1984), is a promised gift of Emily Fisher Landau.
The Whitneys Conservation Department, which grapples simultaneously with theoretical and practical preservation issues, was founded in 2001 as a treatment and research center. Located in the Bucksbaum, Learsy, Scanlan Conservation Center in the Museum, the Conservation Department and its staff serve as an active resource to artists in all phases of their careers, discussing materials and conservation practice, and building new connections among artists and conservators. The departments artist-centric approachexemplified by the Whitneys Replication Committee, a cross-departmental group that considers and authorizes any refabrication or creation of exhibition copiesis emulated by contemporary art institutions worldwide.
We are honored to receive this support from the Cy Twombly Foundation, said Carol Mancusi-Ungaro. Exchanges with artists are central to our work, and recurrent conversations with Cy Twombly were instrumental in shaping our approach. Mancusi-Ungaro was awarded the biennial Forbes Prize in 2016 for conspicuous services to Conservationthe highest honor given by the International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works. She is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, elected in 2009, marking its first recognition of art conservation. In 2021, Mancusi-Ungaro was awarded the Suzanne Deal Booth Rome Prize by the American Academy in Rome. During her fellowship, she will continue her work on a book about Twombly that explores the relationship between artist and conservator.
Whitney conservation staff publish and present extensively, sharing their practice, philosophy, and case studies with the conservation field and beyond. At the core of the Conservation Departments work is the Artists Documentation Program (ADP), which interviews artists and their close associates to better understand their materials, working techniques, and intent for the preservation of their works. The interviews are conducted by conservators in a museum or studio setting. As a joint project with The Menil Collection, ADP strives to preserve and share this information globally. For more information, visit www.adp.menil.org.
Matthew Skopek was hired by Mancusi-Ungaro as Assistant Conservator in 2007 and promoted to Associate Conservator in 2015. He holds a Master of Arts and Certificate of Advanced Study in Conservation from the Art Conservation Program at Buffalo State, The State University of New York, specializing in paintings. He actively publishes and presents his work and previously held positions at the Museum of Modern Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, as well as working at the North Carolina Museum of Art and the Chapel of Santa Maria degli Angeli. During his tenure at the Whitney, he has done major restoration projects on the Museums holdings, from Brice Marden and Agnes Martin to Charles Simonds, Norman Lewis, Barkley Hendricks, and Clyfford Still.