CAA Gives Four Centennial Awards at the 2011 Annual Conference
The CAA Board of Directors has selected five extraordinary individuals—Philippe de Montebello, Agnes Gund, Dorothy and Herbert Vogel, and Stuart E. Eizenstat—as the distinguished recipients of CAA’s four Centennial Awards in recognition of the extraordinary time and expertise they have contributed to the visual arts in New York and across the nation. Special guests presenters gave the Centennial Awards during Convocation at the 99th Annual Conference and Centennial Kickoff at the Hilton New York on Wednesday evening, February 9, 2011.
Philippe de Montebello
Centennial Award for Leadership
As director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for over thirty years, Philippe de Montebello has exemplified strong and visionary leadership in the visual arts, brought great works of art to the public, and enhanced the appreciation and understanding of individual works of art through all ages and periods. A patrician figure whose mellifluous, multilingual voice on the museum’s audio guides was known to millions of visitors around the world, de Montebello was the eighth and longest-serving director in the institution’s 138-year history. During his tenure, he more than doubled the museum’s physical size, carving out majestic new galleries suited to the Met’s encyclopedic holdings.
When he announced his retirement in January 2008, de Montebello said that—after a packed fall season and the completion of several big long-term projects like new galleries for Greek and Roman art and for European paintings—the time was right. “After three decades, to stay much further would be to skirt decency,” he said. “This has not been an easy decision—it’s wrenching for me, it’s been my entire life. But it’s time.” Thomas P. Campbell, an English-born tapestries curator at the museum, succeeded him in January 2009. In de Montebello’s last months, the museum staged a special exhibition of the acquisitions during his tenure, The Philippe de Montebello Years: Curators Celebrate Three Decades of Acquisitions, that was held October 24, 2008–February 1, 2009.
De Montebello retirement was fortunately shortlived, as he is currently Fiske Kimball Professor in the History and Culture of Museums in the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University.
Linda Downs, CAA executive director, presented de Montebello with his Centennial Award.
Agnes Gund is a tirelessly advocate and philanthropist for the visual arts. Currently chairman of the International Council at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, she joined the museum’s board in 1976 and served as its president from 1991 to 2002. During her tenure she was instrumental in recruiting the current director Glenn Lowry, negotiating a merger with P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, and steering the museum’s $858 million expansion. Gund is presently chairman of the board of directors for MoMA PS1; she also serves on the boards of Chess in the Schools, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies, the Frick Collection, and Socrates Sculpture Park, among others, and is an honorary trustee of Independent Curators International. Born and raised in Ohio, Gund has also supported the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland and has worked with the Barnes Foundation and the Menil Collection.
A philanthropist and collector of modern and contemporary art, Gund earned a BA in history from Connecticut College for Women in New London and a MA in art history from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She has since received numerous honorary doctorate degrees, most recently from the City University of New York (2007) and the University of Illinois (2002).
Gund has been an influential civic leader for over three decades. In response to budget cuts in 1977 that virtually eliminated arts classes from New York City public schools, she founded the Studio in a School Association, a nonprofit organization that promotes creativity for children through workshops in public schools, daycare centers, and community organizations throughout the five boroughs. Gund currently works as chairman of the Mayor’s Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission of New York City. A staunch supporter of education, women’s issues, and environmental concerns, Gund has served on the boards of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center and the Fund for Public Schools.
Ann Temkin, chief curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, presented the Centennial Award to Gund.
Since the early 1960s, Dorothy and Herbert Vogel, an amazing New York couple who were full-time workers in middle-class America, amassed an extraordinary, world-class collection of nearly 4,800 works of contemporary art. In 1992 the Vogels generously donated this collection to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and also began sharing it with the nation through their Fifty Works for Fifty States program, which, with the help of several top art institutions, has been dispersing 2,500 works among fifty museums and galleries across the United States.
Dorothy was a reference librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library for most of her working years, Herbert a clerk for the United States Postal Service. In their time off they visited museums, educated themselves about art, and started a collection in their apartment—all on a modest income, living on her salary and investing his into art. Over the years the Vogels befriended artists, negotiated for prices, and attended gallery openings. Chuck Close called them the “mascots of the art world.” Their one-bedroom apartment filled up completely by the early 1990s, and still they collected more.
Visionary in their preferences, they focused on Conceptual and Minimal art, as well as Postminimalism and figurative painting. One of their first purchases, to celebrate their engagement in 1961, was a vase by Pablo Picasso. Many works in their collection are prints or drawings—the Vogels were often limited to buying what they could fit into a taxi or take home on the subway—but all media are represented. Among the dozens of artists in the collection are: Carl Andre, Will Barnet, Robert Barry, Lynda Benglis, Mark Kostabi, Joseph Nechvatal, Lucio Pozzi, Edda Renouf, Daryl Trivieri, and Richard Tuttle.
The film Herb and Dorothy (2008), directed by Megumi Sasaki, tells the Vogel’s unique story, as do several books and exhibition catalogues, such as Don Ball’s The Herbert and Dorothy Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States (Washington, DC: National Endowment for the Arts, 2008) and From Minimal to Conceptual Art: Works from the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection (Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1994), with an essay by John T. Paoletti and an interview with Ruth E. Fine.
Anne Collins Goodyear, associate curator of prints and drawings at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, and CAA vice president for publications, introduced the Vogels and presented their Centennial award to them.
CAA recognizes Stuart E. Eizenstat, an attorney and former United States ambassador to the European Union, for providing belated justice for victims of the Holocaust and other targets of Nazi tyranny during World War II. As special representative of the president and secretary of state on Holocaust-era issues during the Clinton Administration, Eizenstat successfully negotiated major agreements with Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France, and other European countries that covered restitution of property, payment for slave and forced laborers, recovery of looted art and bank accounts, and payment of insurance policies. His book on these events, Imperfect Justice: Looted Assets, Slave Labor, and the Unfinished Business of World War II (New York: Public Affairs, 2003) was favorably reviewed in the New York Times, the Washington Times, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was discussed in the Harvard Law Review, Foreign Affairs, and International Affairs.
The recipient of seven honorary doctorates and a member of the French Legion of Honor Eizenstat has also accepted prestigious civilian awards from Germany, Austria, and Belgium. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence Summers have also recognized his remarkable achievements.
Paul Jaskot, professor of art history of art at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, and CAA president from 2008 to 2010, presented the Centennial Award for Protecting Art as a Cultural Product to Eizenstat.
Published on March 9, 2011.