Conservation DistList Archives [Date] [Subject] [Author] [SEARCH]

Subject: A death

A death

From: Perry Hurt <phurt>
Date: Wednesday, April 2, 2003
Bernard Rabin died on March 24, 2003, at the age of 86, after a long
illness.  He had been elected an Honorary Member of AIC in 1992 and
received the Sheldon and Caroline Keck Award for his "sustained
record of excellence" in teaching in 1998.  Bernie served as the
paintings conservator for the Princeton University Art Museum and
treated paintings for the Montclair Art Museum, the Carnegie-Mellon
Museum, the Newark Museum, the Norton Simon Museum, and many private
clients including Tony Curtis and Nelson A. Rockefeller.  Bernie
will long be remembered by a dedicated group of interns and
employees, including: Lucy Belloli, Stephen Bonadies, Ron
Cunningham, Suzanne Duff, Dante de Florio, Dianne Dwyer Modestini,
Alan Farancz, David Goist, Carol Grissom, Perry Hurt, Albert Keck,
Larry Keck, Norman Kleeblatt, Todd Overturf, Helen Mar Parkin,
Stefano Scafetta, Constance Silver, Joyce Hill Stoner, and Faye

Bernie was born in the Bronx November 1, 1916.  He studied at the
Newark Art School, the New School for Social Research with Julius
Held, and with the Kecks at the Brooklyn Museum; he was the first
American accepted into the conservation training program at the
Uffizi in Florence.  In 1936 with his good friend Nathan Krueger, he
opened an art gallery, later known as the Rabin and Krueger Gallery,
at 47 Halsey Street, Newark, N. J.  The pair worked closely with
many artists including Reginald Marsh, John Sloan, and Joseph Stella
who eventually made Rabin and Krueger the executors of his estate.
In 1959, Bernie worked with Caroline Keck at the Museum of Modern
Art on the treatment of the large Monet Water Lilies.  Bernie was
one of the first American conservators to go to Florence following
the November 1966 flood and returned in the spring and summer of
1967 to head a contingent of Americans to work on musical
instruments at the Bardini Museum.  Following a three-year research
collaboration with Dr. Robert L. Feller, he presented his PVA "hot
melt" lining adhesive (one of the first substitutes for wax-resin)
at the IIC Lisbon conference in 1972.  In 1981 Bernie began a
decade-long association with the treatment of the murals in the U.
S. Capitol building.  In 1987 he headed a team to treat The
Apotheosis of George Washington by Constantino Brumidi; a
4600-square-foot fresco 180 feet above the rotunda floor.  He
invited Paolo and Laura Mora, Robert Feller, and Sheldon Keck to
consult on the project.  Bernie, who was more than 70 years old at
the time, often referred to the treatment of this painting as his
crowning achievement.

Anyone who worked alongside Bernie was impressed with his warm and
caring personality and love of paintings.  He wasn't interested in
the spotlight and cared little for big egos.  He was always open to
discussion, collaboration, new ideas and materials, and the sharing
of information.  His former pupils note: "Of all the conservators
I've had the pleasure of working with, Bernie was the most committed
to the art itself" (Perry Hurt); "He was my mentor, and I will carry
his spirit whenever I work on a painting" (Dante de Florio);  "I am
proud that he was one of the individuals that shaped my abilities as
a craftsman and my ethics about conservation. One of my favorite
quotes from him was 'everything should be treated as if it were a
Rembrandt'" (Alan Farancz);  "Bernie was one of the kindest people I
have known, he cared deeply about the welfare of his interns as well
as the art we were treating" (Joyce Hill Stoner); Bernie had a
sensibility and passion for art, more so than anyone else.  Some
people believe in God.  He believed in art" (Larry Keck).

By Perry Hurt with additional material from Joyce Hill Stoner.

Perry Hurt
Regional Conservation Services
North Carolina Museum of Art
919-839-6262 ext.2207
Fax: 919-733-8034

                  Conservation DistList Instance 16:57
                 Distributed: Wednesday, April 2, 2003
                       Message Id: cdl-16-57-001
Received on Wednesday, 2 April, 2003

[Search all CoOL documents]

Timestamp: Thursday, 26-Jan-2012 15:56:53 PST
Retrieved: Saturday, 07-Dec-2019 09:18:27 GMT