Published: December 26, 2000
Trade News from around the World
Bill Ivey, the chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, outlined a “cultural bill of rights” December 18 and said Americans should be optimistic that the incoming Bush administration will support the arts. Ivey told an audience at Washington, D.C.’s National Press Club – and Carl Hartman of AP – that not enough has been done in the United States for international art exchanges. He criticized excessive reliance on the market for getting things done. Ivey, appointed by President Clinton, said the NEA has not yet had contact with any of President-elect Bush’s transition team. But he cited increased spending on the arts under the Bush’s governorship in Texas as a cause for optimism.
Charles V. Bagli in the December 22 edition of The New York Times reports that a billionaire Chicago family has teamed up with Jerry I. Speyer, the New York developer, in a $1.85 billion deal to purchase Rockefeller Center, the 22-acre complex that stands as an international symbol of commerce and capitalism. The deal severs the Rockefellers’ remaining links to the historic complex that bears the family’s name. For the first time since the family built the center 70 years ago, in the midst of the Depression, the Rockefellers will have no involvement with the 10 landmarked office buildings, Radio City Music Hall or the Rainbow Room. Under the terms of the pending deal, Mr. Speyer and Lester Crown’s family from Chicago, which together owned 5 percent of the complex, will be acquiring the interests of their partners: David Rockefeller, the former chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank; the Goldman Sachs Group; the Agnelli family of Italy; and the estate of the Greek shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos.
A New York State Supreme Court judge has reluctantly ruled that the Hastings school district is the rightful owner of a painting by Jasper Cropsey that might be worth $1 million. According to the Associated Press, Justice John DiBlasi said he feared that the artwork would now be sold “for the purpose of funding a school construction project or meeting a shortfall in an annual school district budget … rather than serve as a source of knowledge for local history and be treasured for its artistic splendor.” But he said the district had enough evidence to prove ownership of the landscape, “View at Hastings-on-Hudson,” painted by Cropsey in about 1885 when he made the village his home. School board President Nancy Nager said the board would “enter into a public discussion on what to do with the painting.”
A deed book from 1785 that contained records of slaves being freed in New Jersey is back in the state after lawyers won a legal battle set in motion when the ledger was offered on eBay last month. The leather-bound book, considered significant because it helps document the early abolitionist movement in southern New Jersey, will eventually be moved to the state archives in Trenton as a result of the settlement reached December 20, says Geoff Mulvihil of AP. The state sued Charles and Valerie Mason of Newark, Del., after they received an offer of $4,651 on the Internet auction site. The buyer backed out after the legal dispute began. Questions arose about whether county officials should have to pay for a book they believe is already county property. Under the deal, an anonymous buyer has agreed to pay $3,000 for the ledger, then donate it to Burlington County, said Roger Shatzkin, a spokesman for the state attorney general’s office. The Masons say they bought the book from a junk dealer. Officials believe it was missing for possibly decades.
William Thon, 94, a landscape artist who continued to paint after being declared legally blind, has died at the home he built on the Maine coast in Port Clyde five decades ago, reports the Associated Press. Thon continued to paint until five days before his death when he was stricken by a heart attack, said his assistant, Heidi Stevens. Doctors released him from the hospital so he could die at home on December 6. In an interview eight years ago, Thon said his vision had deteriorated to the point he was painting in white and black. Despite the limitations caused by macular degeneration, Thon continued to work and to teach. His last show was a soldout event in August at Caldbeck Gallery Rockland, Stevens said. His works are in collections ranging from the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, both in his native New York.
Around the country, says Joann Loviglio of AP, the line between art and commerce is being blurred as museums try to improve their bottom line through their gift shops. “The mission of a museum store is to not only provide financial support for the museum’s programs by offering merchandise that educates and excites and promotes the museum, but also to provide a service for visitors,” commented the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s chief operating officer Gail Harrity. According to the executive director of the Museum Store Association, a 3,000-member trade group, as government support and endowments shrink, museums have increasingly turned to retail sales to draw money and visitors.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art, however, has less to worry about these days in the endowment area: Gerry Lenfest and his wife, Marguerite, have given the museum the second largest gift in the institution’s history – $10 million. The donation pushed the museum halfway toward its goal of raising $200 million in time for its 125th birthday next year. The Lenfests did not restrict the museum’s use of their donation. “Unrestricted gifts such as this enable the museum to plan creatively, and to meet the growing financial challenges that accompany the promise of the museum’s dynamic programs and growth,” Raymond Perelman, a member of the board of trustees, commented to the Associated Press.
The Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Va., has acquired a rare, Seventeenth Century Portuguese astrolabe to round out its collection of navigation instruments, reports Sonja Barisic of AP. The silver-plated artifact, recovered in November 1999 off the western coast of Africa, was auctioned December 19 by Sotheby’s London. The museum placed the highest bid – $161,000. “We have probably the finest collection of mariners’ or navigation instruments in North America. We’re very proud of that,” said William Cogar, vice president and chief curator of the museum. “The one rdf_Description we did not have in the collection is a mariner’s astrolabe.”
Colonial Williamsburg’s textile conservation laboratory, Williamsburg, Va., has acquired a reconditioned dyeing machine to assist in the textile preservation process. One of the major projects the foundation is working on that will utilize the new dyeing machine is the treatment of the ceiling liner from George Washington’s field dining tent used during the Revolutionary War. The acquisition of the Roaches International Sample Soft Flow Jet Dyeing Machine was funded in part by a $10,000 grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.
New restoration unveiled December 18 of Raphael’s “The Baker Girl” reveals a ring on the wedding finger of the voluptuous baker’s daughter believed to have stolen the heart of the master artist. A layer of paint, removed in the restoration, had covered the ring – a patch of paint that experts believe was put there by Raphael himself. He died before the portrait was finished. “It’s as if he had given her a ring but then took it away,” said Giovanna Martellotti, one of the painting’s restorers, discussing the work with AP’s Sheila Pierce at the National Gallery of Antique Art at Rome’s Palazzo Barberini. The portrait shows Margherita Luti, daughter of a Roman baker. Art historians say Raphael became enamored of Margherita and used her as his model while he was in Rome completing the frescoes at the Villa Farnesina in 1518. Her left hand in the restored painting now shows a ring with a red stone – visible for probably the first time since its painting. It was first detected with X-ray equipment, Martellotti said. The ring is on one of the first knuckles of her finger – as if it had just been slipped on. Raphael died at 37 in 1520, leaving the portrait incomplete. Margherita Luti entered the Convent of Sant’Apollonia immediately after his death.
Susan Grace Galassi has been promoted to the position of curator at The Frick Collection. A member of the institution’s curatorial team for nearly ten years, Galassi has organized a program of focused scholarly presentations and coordinated many of the collection’s travelling loan exhibitions. She also founded the museum’s Education Program, which engages young audiences in the pleasure of looking at art while sharpening their observational and analytical skills, and has taken an active role in the institution’s programming for adults and specialized audiences.
The Battleship Wisconsin Foundation is trying to raise $4.7 million to connect the Wisconsin, a World War II-era battleship, to the nearby Nauticus national maritime center in Norfolk, Va. The battleship was welcomed to its new berth with a ceremony December 7. Retiring the vessel helped the foundation collect nearly $4.5 million so far; an additional $5 million is needed for its future care, according to the Associated Press.
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