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Jim Nutt often finishes his paintings by working on the backs, rendering images—some of them trompe l’oeil—and scripting punning, purposefully misspelled phrases in his own unique calligraphy. These finished backs are not meant for display. Their primary purpose is to relay information to those handling the works, including individual owners as well as museum registrars, conservators, and preparators. Much of this information gives instruction on proper environmental conditions and how to handle and hang the works, but Nutt also offers detailed and often humorous descriptions of the work’s title, media, and weight. During the installation of Jim Nutt: Coming Into Character (Jan 29-May29, 2011), the MCA prep crew encountered several finished backs, providing an inside look at these seldom-seen examples of Nutt’s artistic process.

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