Rachel Mustalish - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Rachel Mustalish

Search for:

Rachel Mustalish

PhD student

Thesis: Arthur Dove And The Stiegiltz Circle: Modernism Through Materials

Supervised by Aviva Burnstock

This research examines the unique and innovative techniques used by American artist, Arthur Dove (1880-1946), and technical developments in his works on paper, pastels, and selected paintings. Dove was prolific in his output, adventurous in his media choices, well read and there is a great deal of accessible extant written material by the artist that relates to the technology, making and meaning of his works.

This research entails the interdisciplinary investigation of selected works. The results of a physical investigation of these works will be informed and contextualised by his letters, diaries, and working notes. These primary sources include information about his life, working practices, and philosophies of art. The aim of this aspect of the research is to gain insight into his use of special language and terminology to describe his artistic practices and the meaning and intention of his finished work. The research will incorporate a study of the sources of his materials from artists’ suppliers and his experimentation with new materials, using contemporary trade material catalogues and advertisments. How Dove engaged with this material relates to his artistic intention and to his choice and use of materials and techniques .

The question of how the artist chose, used or modified materials is relevant to the present investigation of Dove’s oeuvre and potentially the work of other artists of the period who used similar materials (such as Stuart Davis, Mark Tobey, Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, and Kurt Schwitters) . The material study will also investigate the deterioration of the works that has implications for the historical interpretation and contemporary display of the works.


  • The Courtauld Institute, University of London, London, UK ▪ 2009-present (Part-time), PhD candidate.
  • Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, New York, NY ▪ 1992-1996 MA in the History of Art and a Diploma in Conservation, 1997. Specialization in the conservation of works of art on paper.
  • Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT ▪ 1986-1990 Bachelor of Arts (BA): Majors: Environmental Science and Art History. Degree, 1990


  • New York University, New York, NY ▪ January 2000 – present
    Lecturer, Institute of Fine Arts: Technology and Structure of Works of Art  and Principles of Conservation: January 2006-present
    Guest Lecturer, Institute of Fine Arts:  Curatorial Studies: 2000-2005, 2008, 2011
    Lecturer, School of Arts and Sciences:  Museum Studies:  2001
  • Introduction to preservation, and artists’ materials; Evaluation of works of art and condition issues; Exhibition considerations: installation, packing, shipping, couriers, facilities reports, and design considerations; The Museum/ historic house. Series of lectures on degradation, preservation and conservation of works of art for the MA History of Art Program Museum Studies course as an Exchange Fellow at the University of Sussex, Department of Art History for Graduate Course, Art History and Curating: Objects and Museums. Brighton, UK ▪ Springs 2012 and 2013.
  • Tufts University, Medford, MA ▪ January 1997- June 2001
    Adjunct Faculty, Museum Studies Program
    Organized and taught graduate course Collections Care and Preservation

Conference papers and lectures

  • Picasso’s Three Nudes for Sunday at the Met series January 2015 Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.
  • A Closer Look: Cubist works on paper: Picasso, Gris, Braque and Leger. Sherman Fairchild Center for Paper Conservation Visiting Committee presentation, October 2014.
  • Materials and Techniques of Cubist Drawings for Graduate Art History Program, Hunter College, City University of New York, NY ▪ Spring 2014.
  • George Stout: The Monuments Men and Conservation for Sunday at the Met series March 2014 Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.
  • Woodblock Printing. Sherman Fairchild Center for Paper Conservation Visiting Committee presentation, February 2014.
  • Arthur Dove: Materials, Techniques, and American Modernism for Faculty Lectures series Spring 2013 Department of Art History, University of Sussex, UK
  • Understanding the old in the new: modern and contemporary printmaking for Summer Institute in technical art history for doctoral students in art history. (SITAH) Mellon Funded course hosted at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, New York, NY ▪ Summer 2013.
  • Modern and Contemporary Printmaking.  Lecturer for Summer Institute in Technical Art History.  Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.  Summer 2012.
  • Arthur Dove and the Stieglitz Circle:  Modernism through Materials. Professional Colloquia series, organized jointly by the Assembly and the Forum. 23 March, 2010. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Look beneath.  The Use of Unusual Supports by Marsden Hartley and Joan Miro. Gallery tour for Conversations with a Conservator program at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Spring 2011
  • The Good, the Bad, the Ugly:  Understanding and Collecting Modern Art on Paper. Sherman Fairchild Center for Paper Conservation Visiting Committee presentation,  March, 2009
  • Materials and Techniques of the Grosvenor School Printers. Gallery tours for Rhythms of Modern Life: British Prints 1914-1933, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exhibition
  • Materials of Prints and Drawings. Christie’s Education, 2002-2008
  • Rauschenberg Prints. Lecture for Print Club of Columbia Museum, South Carolina, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 2007.

Recent publications

  • Peeling back the layers. Investigation of Picasso: Three Nudes” for Cubism: Leonard A. Lauder Collection. Exh. Microsite, video. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art,2014.
  • Technical Notes” for Cubism: Leonard A. Lauder Collection. Exh. Microsite. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014.
  • “Technical Notes”. In Stieglitz and His Artists: Matisse to O’Keeffe, edited by Lisa Mintz Messinger. Exh. cat. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011.
  •  “Technical Notes”. In Picasso in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, edited by Gary Tinterow and Susan Alyson Stein. Exh. cat. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New Haven:  Yale University Press, 2010.
  •  “Variations on the Theme: Modern Manipulation of Traditional Printmaking Techniques” with Andre Ribuoli.” In Printed on Paper: The Techniques, History and Conservation of Printed Media; 5-7 September 2007, The Sage Gateshead, UK, edited by Jane Colbourne and Reba Fishman Snyder, pp. 148-156.  Newcastle upon Tyne: Arts and Social Sciences Academic Press, Lipman Building, Northumbria University, 2009.
  • Digital Technologies and the Management of Conservation Documentation with David Green A Survey Commissioned by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. New York, 2009.
  •  “Materials and Techniques of the Grosvenor School Artists.”  In  Rhythms of Modern Life: British Prints 1914-1933, edited by Clifford S. Ackley. Exh. cat. Boston:  Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2008.
  •  “Plastics in paper: History of Synthetic Polymers in Papermaking.” In Edinburgh Conference Papers 2006, pp. 141-146. London: The Institute of Conservation, 2007.
  • “Picasso’s Works of Art on Paper:  In situ, Non-Destructive Investigation of the Binding Media and Pigments” co-authored with Julie Arslanoglu and Silvia Centeno, Can to Canvas, Marseille/ Antibes, France, May 24-26, 2011.

Other academic activity

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY ▪ June 1998 – present
    Conservator, Paper Conservation Department, June 2008 – present
    Associate Conservator, Paper Conservation Department, June 2002 – June 2008
    Assistant Conservator, Paper Conservation Department, June 1998 –June 2002
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA ▪ September 1996 – October 1998 Morse Fellow for Advanced Training in Paper Conservation


  • International Institute for Conservation (IIC), Fellow: 2005-present, Associate: 1992-2005
  • American Institute for Conservation (AIC) Fellow: 2008-present, Professional Associate: 1998-2008, Associate: 1992 –8
  • Institute for Paper Conservation (IPC), Member: 1992-present (currently part of ICON)

Share This

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Close