Picasso On the Move: Article from The New York Landmarks Conservancy

The Picasso Curtain is scheduled to be moved from the Four Seasons Restaurant on September 6 and 7—the first step toward its new home in The New-York Historical Society.

The elaborate move will involve some twenty experts from both Art Installation Design and Auer’s Rigging. Both companies have wide experience moving artwork for museums and private collectors.

The team will arrive at the restaurant closes on September 6. It will take about six hours to construct the scaffolding and rigging needed to handle the 20 by 18 foot Curtain. Then the Curtain will be very slowly and carefully rolled around a large, 24-inch diameter, specially designed, roller. This will take several more hours.

The Curtain will then be taken to the Williamstown Art Conservation Center in Williamstown, Mass. The respected Center has the expertise, and the space, required to handle this large and important piece. The Curtain will be cleaned and some minor surface tears repaired. We don’t expect any major work to be performed unless the conservators discover something when they inspect the Curtain.

Once conservation is completed, the Curtain will be taken to the Historical Society. It will be placed on public view next spring. Its new location will allow many more people to see “New York’s Picasso.”

The 1919 piece has hung in the Four Seasons since the restaurant opened in 1959. It has not been moved since the 1970s when it was temporarily taken down for comprehensive conservation. A backing was placed on the piece at that time which has held the weight of the Curtain but added some stiffness to the canvas surface.

The Curtain’s age and size make the upcoming move very tricky. In addition to the expert movers, Sarah Lowengard, the conservator who has cared for the Curtain since it was given to the Conservancy in 2005 will be on hand. She will be joined by the chief conservator of the Historical Society. Peg Breen and Conservancy Technical Director Alex Herrera will also be there.

The move was agreed to in a settlement after a very public legal battle over the Curtain. Under the terms of the settlement, RFR Holding, the owner of the Seagram Building where the Four Seasons is located, is paying for the conservation and both moves.

The Conservancy is very grateful to our board member Michael DeChiara and his partner James Rowland who represented us in Court and continue to offer advice and counsel.

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