March 11, 2021
A Short Documentary of Custom Stretching & Framing for Jean-Michel Basquiat
Special Thanks to Videography by Auduz Productions
Filmed in Frames and Stretchers Studio, NYC
Conservationists note when working with pieces by Basquiat the combination of mediums the artist would use, often mixing acrylic with oil sticks, torn paper, and repurposed materials sourced from city refuse and everyday life in the Lower East Side. Former treatments of how the work was previously stretched and stapled could be seen in the canvas resembling Basquiat’s techniques of using hand-cut irregular pieces of canvas and creating improvised stretchers with found wood, metal, and tied pieces of door and window frames that the artist would hinge himself.
At some point in the artwork’s posthumous sale and ownership changes, the original stretchers did not endure and so the work arrived to our studio unstretched. We met the driver offloading the painting one October morning outside the Clemente building on Suffolk and Rivington, and bringing it up to our workspace all remarked on the sacredness of the experience. We wanted to support the archival protection of this work created in 1983 and its restretching nearly four decades later, so we created a custom interlocking stretcher using dry kilned basswood. The kiln drying allows the atmosphere to be controlled so the drying of wood is slow and even, minimizing the possibilities of warping and giving a sturdy foundation with the stretcher’s overall integrity and future longevity in mind.
Our Shop Manager, Anais Cruz knew that Jean-Michel Basquiat’s paintings had the possibility of revealing hidden messages and numbers within the gestures and layers of the artist’s applications. When laying the canvas flat to examine, we noticed the number “19” appeared not from face view but from peripheral angles. Offering alternate ways of viewing the painting seems a part of the mystique of translation between the creator and audience, and in rhythm with Basquiat’s art as a form of public address.
Hidden layers of text and numbers painted over in Jean-Michel Basquiat's artwork becomes visible during the canvas stretching and custom framing process at our Frames and Stretchers studio in NYC
Originally born in Brooklyn to parents of Haitian and Puerto Rican descent, Jean-Michel Basquiat often incorporated poetic code and commentary in their work and graffiti under the name SAMO; a language of confession used to diarize a social critique Basquiat employed and reflected back on the city in his lifetime.
For the best conservation of this historic artwork, we created a custom interlocking stretcher to give this work museum quality results and a foundation that works that will be archival with dry-kilned basswood. A powder coated aluminum frame was custom welded to the painting’s precise dimensions.
The beautiful timing of stretching and framing this historic artwork by Jean-Michel Basquiat also coincides with our building's 15th Annual Puerto Rican Arts Festival Borimix at The Clemente. This year we are celebrating Haiti, with performances, exhibitions and live events taking place within our cultural center's many theaters, galleries, and studios.
For more information about The Clemente Center and cultural events that support many Puerto Rican and Latinx artists, please join us for our upcoming programming here: http://www.theclementecenter.org/
Please join us at The Clemente Center for the 15th Annual Puerto Rican Arts Festival Borimix!
To Contact Us for any questions or collaborations with our custom framing and canvas stretching studio, or for art installations and art shipping, we would love to hear from you!
Please give us a call at (347) 705-0081 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our representatives will be happy to speak with you about our services.