College Art Association

CAA News Today

Filed under: Cultural Heritage, Legal Issues

The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) will present a session, called “Facing the Unthinkable: Preparing for the Next Sandy,” at CAA’s 101st Annual Conference in New York on Saturday, February 16, 2013. It will take place from 1:00 to 3:30 PM at the Hilton New York, Concourse C, Concourse Level. This session—which is free and open to the public—is aimed particularly at artists and small-gallery managers and will focus on concrete steps they can take to mitigate the impact of emergencies through planning and preparing for forecasted events, such as storms, and on first steps to take following an emergency. In addition, important health and safety procedures will be outlined, and lists of resources and contact information for assistance will be distributed.

When Superstorm Sandy struck the Northeast at the end of October 2012, individual artists and small galleries were especially vulnerable—especially those concentrated in low-lying areas that were eventually inundated with floodwaters. Many prepared as they had for Hurricane Irene a year previously, but the height and power of the water was far beyond what Irene had brought. Lessons learned from this disaster will be covered in the workshop, including the experiences of AIC’s Collections Emergency Response Team (AIC-CERT) and the current work at the Cultural Recovery Center in Brooklyn.

Speakers will include members of AIC-CERT and volunteers from the Cultural Recovery Center: Cynthia M. Albertson, Assistant Conservator, Museum of Modern Art;  Lisa Elkin, Chief Registrar and Director of Conservation, American Museum of Natural History;  David Goist, Conservator in Private Practice, Raleigh, North Carolina; and  Caitlin O’Grady, Department of Art Conservation, University of Delaware.

AIC, which advances the practice and promotes the importance of preservation of cultural property through publications, research, and the exchange of knowledge, is a CAA affiliated society.

Updated on January 28, 2013.

Lucille A. Roussin, an attorney with a background in art history, reports on a recent daylong program that took place at the Cardozo School of Law in New York on March 31, 2011. The first two paragraphs are below; you may also read the full article.

Human Rights and Cultural Heritage: From the Holocaust to the Haitian Earthquake

The Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in New York hosted an all-day conference, entitled “Human Rights and Cultural Heritage: From the Holocaust to the Haitian Earthquake,” on March 31, 2011. The program brought together experts in both human-rights law and Holocaust-era restitution law. Its organizers also invited specialists in the same areas who had not previously engaged this important topic.

The program commenced with opening remarks by Allan Gerson, chairman of AG International Law PLLC, a Washington, DC–based law firm specializing in complex issues of international law and politics. During his talk on “Civil Litigation to Secure Cultural Property as a Human Right,” he spoke of the continuing debate over the existence of a recognized human right to secure restitution of cultural property and, when a victim is deprived of actual possession, the right to just compensation. Gerson included news about his current litigation against the Metropolitan Museum of Art over Paul Cézanne’s Madame Cézanne in the Conservatory (1891) and Yale University over Vincent van Gogh’s The Night Café (1888). Both cases involve major issues in international law, including the Act of State Doctrine and the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

Read the full article in the Features section.

Filed under: Cultural Heritage, Legal Issues

Svetlana Mintcheva, director of programs at the National Coalition Against Censorship, reports on a recent meeting about the Hide/Seek controversy that was held at Rutgers University earlier this month. The first two paragraphs are below; you may also read the full article.

Hide/Seek: Museums, Ethics, and the Press

Hide/Seek may be remembered as the censorship controversy that launched a hundred discussion panels. There were public statements and street protests, of course, letters to the Smithsonian Board of Regents and articles in the press, but most of all, there were the conferences. Starting with a gathering at the Jewish Community Center in Washington, DC, spreading to the West Coast, and featuring major public events at the Corcoran and the New Museum, these discussions responded to an apparently endless desire to analyze and assign blame, to blow off steam and extract lessons, and to place what happened within the history of Culture Wars in America.

An April 9 symposium, “Hide/Seek: Museum, Ethics, and the Press,” organized by the Institute of Museum Ethics at Seton Hall University and the Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers Business School, had the goal of framing the issues surrounding the Hide/Seek controversy as ethical ones. Daniel Okrent, former chairman of the National Portrait Gallery, opened the event by posing several key questions: Is choosing to do a controversial show an ethical decision? Should a show ever be changed after opening? What happens after a controversy in terms of institutional definition and future planning? A diverse group of participants from such disciplines as art history, law, political science, and philosophy, as well as Smithsonian representatives and one journalist, attempted to grapple with these issues and more.

Read the full article in the Features section.

The Executive Committee of the CAA Board of Directors has reviewed and approved the support of the following statement, published on February 2, 2011, under the aegis of the Association of Art Museum Directors. You may download a PDF of the letter.

Statement regarding Egypt

New York, NY—February 2, 2011—Recent news reports about the turmoil in Egypt have varyingly reported that some damage was done to works of ancient art in Egyptian museums—and that those who attempted to do harm were stopped. Just as we worry about the safety of Egypt’s citizens in this time of civil unrest, so, too, do we worry about the safety of the country’s cultural heritage—works of art and material culture crucial to our understanding of world civilization and humanity.

We, the representatives of the leading American museums and university art and art history departments, stand with the people of Egypt in their determination to protect 5,000 years of history, including those objects from history that remain unexcavated. Our members—more than 21,000 institutions and individuals—stand ready to assist in any way possible to secure the art and artifacts of Egypt.

Association of Art Museum Directors, Kaywin Feldman, President
American Association of Museums, Ford Bell, President
Association of Art Museum Curators, John Ravenal, President
Association of Academic Museums and Galleries, David Alan Robertson, President
College Art Association, Barbara Nesin, President

Contact

Janet Landay and Christine Anagnos
Association of Art Museum Directors
212-754-8084

Sascha Freudenheim and Elizabeth Chapman
Resnicow Schroeder Associates
212-671-5172 and 212-671-5159

Each month, CAA’s Committee on Women in the Arts produces a curated list, called CWA Picks, of recommended exhibitions and events related to feminist art and scholarship from North America and around the world.

The CWA Picks for August 2010 include two exhibitions of folk art: works by American women in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries presented at the American Folk Art Museum in New York, and by contemporary practitioners from around the world, displayed at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Columbia College Chicago is hosting a panel of five women at the forefront of gaming theory and practice, called “3G Summit: The Future of Girls, Gaming and Gender.” Lastly, closing this month at the Guggenheim Museum in New York is an exhibition devoted to the art-education practices of Hilla Rebay, the first curator and director of the Museum of Non-Objective Painting.

Check out past CWA Picks archived at the bottom of the page, as exhibitions highlighted in previous months are often still on view.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has released a podcast interview with Susan Blakney, a senior painting conservator and the founder of Westlake Conservators. She traveled to Haiti May 4–8, 2010, to assess the conservation needs of artwork damaged by the January earthquake.

Blakney and two other conservators visited a dozen museums, which she reports have made great strides in retrieving and storing damaged artwork. She describes seeing five hundred paintings that were stacked “in a pile like pancakes,” awaiting conservation care. Haitians are anxious to save their paintings, which are one of their “national loves and largest exports,” she says. However, the country does not have the materials it needs to conserve these integral parts of its social history, she adds. Conservators will be needed for many years to help restore the country’s artwork and to train Haitian artists on conservation techniques. Blakney is certain that the paintings she assessed can be restored to exhibition standards.

Blakney was part of emergency conservation team sent to Haiti by the American Institute for Conservation (a CAA affiliated society) with support from IMLS. These efforts are part of the Smithsonian Institution’s Haitian Cultural Recovery Project, which is also receiving support from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Broadway League. The US Committee of the Blue Shield, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization dedicated to the protection of cultural property affected by conflict or natural disasters, is serving as the international coordinator of this conservation effort.

Our three federal cultural agencies—the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services—are in danger of underfunding for fiscal year 2011.

As the economic downturn places increasing pressure on arts and educational institutions throughout the country, now is the time to increase, not diminish, federal investment in the arts and humanities through the NEA, NEH, and IMLS. Read on to find out how you can help.

Ask Your Senator to Commit to Increasing NEH Funding

Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) is circulating a “Dear Colleague Letter” in support of increased funding for the NEH. The letter asks for $232.5 million for the endowment, a $65 million increase above what it received last year, and $71.2 million more that what President Barack Obama has requested for fiscal year 2011.

The deadline for senators to sign onto this letter has been extended to Wednesday, May 12, 2010. Please write your senators today, using online advocacy tools from the National Humanities Alliance (NHA), and ask them to demonstrate their support for the humanities by adding their signature to this letter. You can also contact your senators by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

The sign-on letter, addressed to Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HA) and Vice Chair Thad Cochran (R-MS), and to Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN), is available on the NHA website.

Support a Budget Increase for the NEA

President Obama suggested a decrease of $6.4 million for the NEA when he proposed his 2011 federal budget. Rather than allocate $161.3 million to the NEA, CAA urges you to contact your legislators to request $180 million for the agency for the next fiscal year.

Since the 1960s, the NEA has assisted artists and organizations in the visual arts, dance, design, music, opera, theater, and more. It has also supported crucial CAA programs, including a $20,000 grant to fund ARTspace at the 2010 Annual Conference in Chicago, and a stimulus grant of $50,000 to save a key staff position.

Help the IMLS Continue Giving Grants to Museums and Libraries

A federal agency that supports all kinds of museums and libraries nationwide, the IMLS received $282.2 million in fiscal year 2010, but now faces a $16.7 million drop in funding. The IMLS’s Office of Museum Services is currently funded at $35.2 million, and the American Association of Museums (AAM) and the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) have joined the NHA to advocate $50 million for the office. Download the AAM issue brief or visit the NHA website to read more about IMLS funding.

The Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) has developed the Protecting Haitian Patrimony (PHP) Initiative to bring together international contributors to assist Haiti with the preservation of Haitian cultural patrimony while respecting local sovereignty. From February 11 to 17, 2010, Brooke Wooldridge, dLOC project coordinator, traveled to Haiti to meet with local leadership and determine the short, medium, and long-term goals for the initiative.

The downloadable PDF report summarizes the current actions taken in regard to the specific patrimonial collections in Haiti. It also provides the background necessary to develop coherent, complementary plans to assist local institutions as they protect the collections and develop resources to preserve and ensure that the future generations will have access to these resources.

Filed under: Advocacy, Cultural Heritage — Tags:

The Frick Art Reference Library in New York has launched two new online resources that are available to scholars free of charge. The first, called the Archives Directory, is a directory that helps those researching the history of collecting art in the United States. The second, the Montias Database, is a collection of inventories from the Dutch Golden Age.

Inge Reist, director for the Frick’s Center for the History of Collecting in America, says, “Such a consolidated and easily searched online source as the new Archives Directory will prove invaluable to this deepening field of study and will ensure that researchers can locate primary documents such as letters, bills of sale, and other transaction records that are so essential to reliable scholarship. Indeed, users will more readily find their way to all manner of repositories, from those that are well-known to utterly unexpected caches, which in turn may lead to new discoveries and inspire fresh perspectives.”

Archives Directory

The center’s Archives Directory, the first online database of its kind, consolidates a wealth of information about the location and nature of documents and archives available on American collectors. Until now, scholars have had to comb through multiple websites and, if permitted, sift through analogue data held at library, museum, and university archives to construct their own plans for research—a time-consuming and imprecise process. The new directory is, by contrast, accessible around the clock via the institution’s website. Its use will help scholars worldwide as they approach research projects, guiding them beyond existing publications and standard paths to overlooked repositories, including primary source materials.

The Archives Directory guides researchers to more than 5,000 collections held in more than 300 repositories worldwide, which together have bearing on the lives and activities of more than 1,500 American collectors. Information in the Archives Directory was culled from various online and printed materials ranging from federated and individual online library catalogues to Google Books to published literature in the field.

Contributions of additional information for the directory are welcomed by scholars and researchers, so that it will continue to grow and become an increasingly valued resource.

Montias Database of 17th Century Dutch Art Inventories

The complete Montias Database, cosponsored by the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie, offers an unprecedented look at ownership of art in Holland during the seventeenth century. It is a trove of searchable information about buyers, sellers, and prices, including comprehensive information on over 50,000 objects (paintings, prints, sculpture, furniture, and so forth) listed in nearly 1,300 Amsterdam city inventories. Approximately half was created in preparation for auctions, almost an equal portion was notarial death inventories for estate purposes, and the remaining documents relate to bankruptcy cases. Although the database, which specifically addresses records from 1597 through 1681, is not a complete record of all inventories made in Amsterdam, it contains a vast amount of information that can elucidate patterns of buying, selling, inventorying, and collecting art.

An eminent economist at Yale University, John Michael Montias began recording details of ownership of works of art from inventories held in the Amsterdam municipal archive, or Geementearchief (now known as the Stadsarchief), in the early 1980s as part of his own work on the prices of Dutch paintings at seventeenth-century auctions.

Filed under: Cultural Heritage, Libraries, Research — Tags: