Details

Textiles conservator Cristina Carr observes the minute details that fill works of art with a whole new life.

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My father hated talking in the museum. He liked people to just shut up and look at the art. And we would stand there, silently.

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  • Cristina Carr
    1280852
  • Soap Bubbles  |  ca. 1734  |  Jean Siméon Chardin (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Wentworth Fund, 1949 (49.24)
    1280936
  • Soap Bubbles  |  ca. 1734  |  Jean Siméon Chardin (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Wentworth Fund, 1949 (49.24)
    10361024
  • Soap Bubbles  |  ca. 1734  |  Jean Siméon Chardin (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Wentworth Fund, 1949 (49.24)
    10541024
  • [12 Views of New York City Skyline and Painting by Walker Evans]  |  1940s–50s  |  Walker Evans (American)  |  Film negative  |  Walker Evans Archive, 1994 (1994.252.167.1–12)
    9801024
  • Head from the figure of a woman  |  ca. 2700–2500 b.c.; Early Cycladic I–II  |  Cycladic; Keros-Syros culture  |  Marble  |  Gift of Christos G. Bastis, 1964 (64.246)
    5651024
  • The Kangxi Emperor's Southern Inspection Tour, Scroll Three: Ji'nan to Mount Tai  |  Qing dynasty, 1698  |  Wang Hui (Chinese)  |  Handscroll; ink and color on silk  |  Purchase, The Dillon Fund Gift, 1979 (1979.5)
    1280687
  • The Kangxi Emperor's Southern Inspection Tour, Scroll Three: Ji'nan to Mount Tai  |  Qing dynasty, 1698  |  Wang Hui (Chinese)  |  Handscroll; ink and color on silk  |  Purchase, The Dillon Fund Gift, 1979 (1979.5)
    9381024
  • The Kangxi Emperor's Southern Inspection Tour, Scroll Three: Ji'nan to Mount Tai  |  Qing dynasty, 1698  |  Wang Hui (Chinese)  |  Handscroll; ink and color on silk  |  Purchase, The Dillon Fund Gift, 1979 (1979.5)
    1066812
  • Before Dinner  |  1924  |  Pierre Bonnard (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 (1975.1.156)  |  © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
    12091024
  • Before Dinner  |  1924  |  Pierre Bonnard (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 (1975.1.156)  |  © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
    1257695
  • Diana and Actaeon from a set of Ovid's Metamorphoses  |  designed before 1680, woven late 17th–early 18th century  |  Jean Jans the Younger (French); Gobelins Royal Manufactory  |  Wool, silk  |  Gift of Mrs. George S. Amory, in memory of her father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Amory Sibley Carhart, 1964 (64.208)
    1280938
  • Diana and Actaeon from a set of Ovid's Metamorphoses  |  designed before 1680, woven late 17th–early 18th century  |  Jean Jans the Younger (French); Gobelins Royal Manufactory  |  Wool, silk  |  Gift of Mrs. George S. Amory, in memory of her father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Amory Sibley Carhart, 1964 (64.208)
    916759
  • Purse  |  early 17th century  |  English  |  Canvas worked with silk and metal thread, glass beads, spangles; Gobelin, tent, and detached buttonhole stitches  |  Rogers Fund, by exchange, 1929 (29.23.15)
    6991024
  • Purse  |  early 17th century  |  English  |  Canvas worked with silk and metal thread, glass beads, spangles; Gobelin, tent, and detached buttonhole stitches  |  Rogers Fund, by exchange, 1929 (29.23.15)
    10561024
  • Macro image, magnified 30 times  |  Purse  |  early 17th century  |  English  |  Canvas worked with silk and metal thread, glass beads, spangles; Gobelin, tent, and detached buttonhole stitches  |  Rogers Fund, by exchange, 1929 (29.23.15)
    1280718
  • Macro image, magnified 30 times  |  Purse  |  early 17th century  |  English  |  Canvas worked with silk and metal thread, glass beads, spangles; Gobelin, tent, and detached buttonhole stitches  |  Rogers Fund, by exchange, 1929 (29.23.15)
    1280718
  • Macro image, magnified 30 times  |  Purse  |  early 17th century  |  English  |  Canvas worked with silk and metal thread, glass beads, spangles; Gobelin, tent, and detached buttonhole stitches  |  Rogers Fund, by exchange, 1929 (29.23.15)
    1280718
  • Pair of gloves  |  ca. 1600  |  English  |  Leather; satin worked with silk and metal thread, seed pearls; satin, couching, and darning stitches; metal bobbin lace; paper  |  Gift of Mrs. Edward S. Harkness, 1928 (28.220.7,.8)
    10331024
  • Pair of gloves  |  ca. 1600  |  English  |  Leather; satin worked with silk and metal thread, seed pearls; satin, couching, and darning stitches; metal bobbin lace; paper  |  Gift of Mrs. Edward S. Harkness, 1928 (28.220.7,.8)
    7681024
  • Macro image, magnified 30 times  |  Pair of gloves  |  ca. 1600  |  English  |  Leather; satin worked with silk and metal thread, seed pearls; satin, couching, and darning stitches; metal bobbin lace; paper  |  Gift of Mrs. Edward S. Harkness, 1928 (28.220.7,.8)
    5751024
  • Macro image, magnified 30 times  |  Pair of gloves  |  ca. 1600  |  English  |  Leather; satin worked with silk and metal thread, seed pearls; satin, couching, and darning stitches; metal bobbin lace; paper  |  Gift of Mrs. Edward S. Harkness, 1928 (28.220.7,.8)
    5751024
  • Pair of gloves  |  ca. 1600  |  English  |  Leather; satin worked with silk and metal thread, seed pearls; satin, couching, and darning stitches; metal bobbin lace; paper  |  Gift of Mrs. Edward S. Harkness, 1928 (28.220.7,.8)
    9101024
  • Cristina Carr
    1280852
  • My name is Cristina Balloffet Carr, and I'm a conservator of textiles.

  • My topic today is details, and how the details pull you into the whole.

  • It's not until you focus in on everything that you have some sense of what this is about, what's inside of this painting.

  • It's like you're rebuilding the whole.

  • My family moved to New York from Argentina. I didn't learn English until I was five. And my memories are completely visual, certainly for my early schooling, but really even throughout my life.

  • My father was an engineer. He was a man of science, but he did love music and he did love art. He loved these heads, and I was so struck by his choice of object, because they were so otherworldly. And he never wanted to talk, in fact he hated talking in the museum.

  • He liked people to just shut up and look at the art. And we would stand there, silently, and it almost became like a trance-like effect, you were just

  • being pulled in. And I began to see so much detail that

  • I would not have...I would not have seen if I hadn't just been standing there. It is the thing that, I have to say, connected me with my husband, because he's a painter.

  • He was just so in love with Bonnard, with the color and the juxtapositions of the people. And he also didn't actually talk that much about it, but we would stand there, and he would be drawing, and sometimes we'd be standing there for quite a while.

  • It was being made to stop and look. It's such a basic part of my job here as

  • a conservator of textiles to look at things very closely

  • and understand as much as possible about the physical material. When you look at objects

  • under magnification, these images are cranked up to thirty times, you forget that

  • this is something that is falling apart, and you just

  • see the object for its own life, its own personality, its own

  • physical existence. It's like you're giving back some of its

  • life in the sharpness of the detail and the unexpectedness of it.

  • Looking at these embroideries, there's no way you cannot be struck with them because they're so quirky and they are so sumptuous. But when I zeroed in

  • on this half-inch square, I was pushing away the overall object, the parts that were lost.

  • When they first kind of loomed up under the microscope, they just blew me away, they were so beautiful. Because they have a lot of metal thread, there's silver and gilt silver, when I was looking at them magnified

  • what I was seeing was the light and the colors reflected in the metal. And when I looked at the object again

  • I looked at it differently because I had some visual information. It's not something you can read about. Anything that you come into closely

  • you will see the light in it.

  • 49.24
    Soap Bubbles, ca. 1734, Jean Siméon Chardin (French), Oil on canvas Wentworth Fund, 1949 (49.24)
  • 1994.252.167.1-12
    [12 Views of New York City Skyline and Painting by Walker Evans], 1940s–50s, Walker Evans (American), Film negative Walker Evans Archive, 1994 (1994.252.167.1–12)
  • 64.246
    Head from the figure of a woman, ca. 2700–2500 b.c.; Early Cycladic I–II, Cycladic; Keros-Syros culture, Marble Gift of Christos G. Bastis, 1964 (64.246)
  • 1979.5
    The Kangxi Emperor's Southern Inspection Tour, Scroll Three: Ji'nan to Mount Tai, Qing dynasty, 1698, Wang Hui (Chinese), Handscroll; ink and color on silk Purchase, The Dillon Fund Gift, 1979 (1979.5)
  • 1975.1.156
    Before Dinner, 1924, Pierre Bonnard (French), Oil on canvas Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 (1975.1.156) © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
  • 64.208
    Diana and Actaeon from a set of Ovid's Metamorphoses, designed before 1680, woven late 17th–early 18th century, Jean Jans the Younger (French); Gobelins Royal Manufactory, Wool, silk Gift of Mrs. George S. Amory, in memory of her father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Amory Sibley Carhart, 1964 (64.208)
  • 29.23.15
    Purse, early 17th century, English, Canvas worked with silk and metal thread, glass beads, spangles; Gobelin, tent, and detached buttonhole stitches Rogers Fund, by exchange, 1929 (29.23.15)
  • 28.220.7,.8
    Pair of gloves, ca. 1600, English, Leather; satin worked with silk and metal thread, seed pearls; satin, couching, and darning stitches; metal bobbin lace; paper Gift of Mrs. Edward S. Harkness, 1928 (28.220.7,.8)
  • Soap Bubbles, ca. 1734, Jean Siméon Chardin (French), Oil on canvas Wentworth Fund, 1949 (49.24)
    [12 Views of New York City Skyline and Painting by Walker Evans], 1940s–50s, Walker Evans (American), Film negative Walker Evans Archive, 1994 (1994.252.167.1–12)
    Head from the figure of a woman, ca. 2700–2500 b.c.; Early Cycladic I–II, Cycladic; Keros-Syros culture, Marble Gift of Christos G. Bastis, 1964 (64.246)
    The Kangxi Emperor's Southern Inspection Tour, Scroll Three: Ji'nan to Mount Tai, Qing dynasty, 1698, Wang Hui (Chinese), Handscroll; ink and color on silk Purchase, The Dillon Fund Gift, 1979 (1979.5)
    Before Dinner, 1924, Pierre Bonnard (French), Oil on canvas Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 (1975.1.156) © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
    Diana and Actaeon from a set of Ovid's Metamorphoses, designed before 1680, woven late 17th–early 18th century, Jean Jans the Younger (French); Gobelins Royal Manufactory, Wool, silk Gift of Mrs. George S. Amory, in memory of her father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Amory Sibley Carhart, 1964 (64.208)
    Purse, early 17th century, English, Canvas worked with silk and metal thread, glass beads, spangles; Gobelin, tent, and detached buttonhole stitches Rogers Fund, by exchange, 1929 (29.23.15)
    Pair of gloves, ca. 1600, English, Leather; satin worked with silk and metal thread, seed pearls; satin, couching, and darning stitches; metal bobbin lace; paper Gift of Mrs. Edward S. Harkness, 1928 (28.220.7,.8)
    8000–2000 B.C.
    2000–1000 B.C.
    1000 B.C.–1 A.D.
    1–500 A.D.
    500–1000 A.D.
    1000–1400 A.D.
    1400–1600 A.D.
    1600–1800 A.D.
    1800–1900 A.D.
    1900–Present

    Works of art in order of appearance

    Last Updated: August 19, 2013. Not all works of art in the Museum's collection may be on view on a particular day. For the most accurate location information, please check this page on the day of your visit.

    Soap Bubbles
    ca. 1734
    Jean Siméon Chardin (French)
    Oil on canvas
    Wentworth Fund, 1949 (49.24)
    On view: Gallery 615
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    [12 Views of New York City Skyline and Painting by Walker Evans]
    1940s–50s
    Walker Evans (American)
    Film negative
    Walker Evans Archive, 1994 (1994.252.167.1–12)
    Not on view
    PhotographsSecond Floor
    Head from the figure of a woman
    ca. 2700–2500 b.c.; Early Cycladic I–II
    Cycladic; Keros-Syros culture
    Marble
    Gift of Christos G. Bastis, 1964 (64.246)
    On view: Gallery 151
    Greek and Roman ArtFirst Floor and Mezzanine
    The Kangxi Emperor's Southern Inspection Tour, Scroll Three: Ji'nan to Mount Tai
    Qing dynasty, 1698
    Wang Hui (Chinese)
    Handscroll; ink and color on silk
    Purchase, The Dillon Fund Gift, 1979 (1979.5)
    Not on view
    Asian ArtSecond Floor
    Before Dinner
    1924
    Pierre Bonnard (French)
    Oil on canvas
    Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 (1975.1.156)
    © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
    On view: Gallery 962
    The Robert Lehman CollectionFirst Floor
    Diana and Actaeon from a set of Ovid's Metamorphoses
    designed before 1680, woven late 17th–early 18th century
    Jean Jans the Younger (French); Gobelins Royal Manufactory
    Wool, silk
    Gift of Mrs. George S. Amory, in memory of her father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Amory Sibley Carhart, 1964 (64.208)
    On view: Gallery 550
    European Sculpture and Decorative ArtsFirst Floor
    Purse
    early 17th century
    English
    Canvas worked with silk and metal thread, glass beads, spangles; Gobelin, tent, and detached buttonhole stitches
    Rogers Fund, by exchange, 1929 (29.23.15)
    Not on view
    European Sculpture and Decorative ArtsFirst Floor
    Pair of gloves
    ca. 1600
    English
    Leather; satin worked with silk and metal thread, seed pearls; satin, couching, and darning stitches; metal bobbin lace; paper
    Gift of Mrs. Edward S. Harkness, 1928 (28.220.7,.8)
    Not on view
    European Sculpture and Decorative ArtsFirst Floor

    © 2011 The Metropolitan Museum of Art