Enfilade

Exhibition | The Monuments Men of the Nelson-Atkins

Posted in exhibitions, films, museums by Editor on January 30, 2014

Press release (21 January 2014) from the Nelson-Atkins:

The Monuments Men of the Nelson-Atkins
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, 5 February — 9 March 2014

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Paul Gardner (1894–1972), director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of art from 1933 to 1953 (Nelson-Atkins Archive)

As excitement builds for the release of the Sony film The Monuments Men, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art applauds six real-life Monuments Men who either worked in or closely with the museum. Monuments men and women, commissioned by Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II, were tasked with the protection, recovery, and preservation of millions of Europe’s masterpieces during the Nazi occupation.

“The men and women involved in this selfless effort to keep art objects safe during a dangerous time in history showed immense courage,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, CEO and Director of the Nelson-Atkins. “We are deeply in their debt for preserving these treasures for humanity.”

A display of archival materials will be on view in Bloch Lobby that includes postcards, manuscripts, newspaper clippings, and biographies of the Nelson-Atkins’ Monuments Men.

“My research has shown that these six men brought to their military duties the same passion for art and culture that made them so valuable to the Nelson-Atkins,” said MacKenzie Mallon, a researcher in the European Painting & Sculpture Department who has been working on this project for many months. “They took their responsibilities as protectors of these monuments very seriously.”

Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland

Nicolas de Largillière, Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, ca. 1714–15. Oil on canvas, 58 x 46 inches (146 x 116 cm)
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City.

The museum employed four of the Monuments Men and maintained strong ties with two others. Paul Gardner, the first director of the Nelson-Atkins, served as Director of the Fine Arts Section of the Allied Military Government in Italy. Another former director, Laurence Sickman, was assigned to General Douglas MacArthur’s Tokyo headquarters after the Japanese surrender and served as a technical advisor on collections and monuments, making trips to China and Korea to assess the level of damage to monuments in those countries. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for his war services.

The first curator of European Art at the museum, Patrick J. Kelleher, served as the head of the Greater Hesse Division of the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives section. Otto Wittmann, Jr., the first curator of Prints for the museum, was part of the OSS Art Looting and Investigation Unit (ALIU).

Langdon Warner served as the Asian art advisor to the Trustees of the Nelson-Atkins in 1930 and was a close colleague of Sickman. He helped found the American Defense-Harvard Group, a precursor of the Roberts Commission, Roosevelt’s task force. James A. Reeds served with the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives section in France in 1944. He taught linguistics at University of Missouri at Kansas City and served as a docent for the Nelson-Atkins.

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The Kansas City Star (Sunday, 15 September 1940).

One of the finest examples of 18th-century portraiture at the Nelson-Atkins, Nicolas de Largillière’s Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, was found by the Monuments Men in a bomb-rigged salt mine in Alt Aussee, Austria and returned to Clarice de Rothschild, whose family owned the painting. It was purchased by the Nelson-Atkins in 1954 after Rothschild sold it to an art dealer in New York. During World War II, the Nelson-Atkins also served as a safe house for more than 150 paintings and tapestries from collections on the East and West coasts.

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt from Missouri recently introduced a bipartisan bill that would award Congressional Gold Medals to all 350 of the men and women referred to as Monuments Men. “The Nelson-Atkins has a rich history which is only enhanced by the individuals who have worked there,” said Senator Blunt. “These Monuments Men protected historical artifacts from destruction and saved these treasures for future generations. I am proud to introduce legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the men and women who fought to preserve this priceless history.”

The Monuments Men, starring George Clooney and Matt Damon, will be released nationally on February 7. The film is based on the book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel, who continued his investigation into the soldiers who rescued cultural treasures in Saving Italy. The latter book discusses the heroism of former Nelson-Atkins director Paul Gardner. Edsel has created the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, which honors the legacy of the Monuments Men. For more information, visit monumentsmenfoundation.org.

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Writing about the film for The NY Times, Tom Mashberg offers this important reminder:

Tom Mashberg, “Not All Monuments Men Were Men,” The New York Times (29 January 2014).

The art-hunting team, officially known as the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Section, grew to more than 300 people in the postwar years. The women never numbered more than a few dozen, but, like the men, they were dedicated scholars and at times notable heroes.

Rose Valland, whose role is depicted briefly by Cate Blanchett in the film, was a French Resistance operative who spied on the Nazis and showed herself able to shoot and drink with the boys. Edith A. Standen was a captain in the Women’s Army Corps who went on to a career at the Metropolitan Museum of Art [serving as curator of textiles from 1940 to 1970]. And Ms. Hall was a Smith College graduate who came to the task from a career focused on the study of Asian art. . . .

The full article is available here»

Call for Papers | A Dialogue of the Arts: Architecture and Interiors

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on January 30, 2014

Conference and Edited Volume | A Dialogue of the Arts
The Relationship of Exterior and Interior: Descriptions of Architecture and Interiors
Institute of History of Art, University of Zurich, 23–24 October 2014

Proposals due by 28 February 2014

Keynote Speaker: Cornelia Jöchner (Ruhr-Universität Bochum Kunstgeschichtliches Institut)

The project A Dialogue of the Arts is a long-term concept, which includes Early Modern Times to the present and this for all places, exploring the possibilities of widening and enriching the methods of History of Art. The papers presented at these biannual conferences are subsequently published.

A Dialogue of the Arts: The Relationship of Exterior and Interior: Descriptions of Architecture and Interiors in Literature of Early Modern Times to the Present

During the earlier conferences of 2010 and 2012, which dealt with Descriptions of Architecture in Literature of Early Modern Times to the Present and Descriptions of Interior Design in Literature of Early Modern Times to the Present, the third conference is devoted to the relationship of architectural interior and exterior aspects and this again relying on literature of different languages from Early Modern Times to the present. The first two conferences have shown us that literary descriptions of different times and languages witness the time in which they are written: they are on the one hand an important contribution for understanding the development of methods; on the other hand they can disclose new interdisciplinary dialogues. The presentations and the following publication of the foregoing conference have shown clearly that literary texts of different genres like prose, poetry, travelogues, diaries as well as letters and other categories are door openers not only for new art historian perceptions, but also can give hints to new methods of our discipline. This means not only the breaking up of the periodical conception of history of art, but also the architectural and spatial categories defined by history of art.

These are also the intentions of the third conference, dedicated to the relation of inside and outside of architecture in literary descriptions. How far and how deep literary descriptions can scrutinize the methods of art history and in which extent this will be possible. Furthermore, the conference is interested in papers showing new perspectives for the discipline, being able to engage and continue new dialogues for the different shifts of time and genres. We particularly encourage the submission of proposals that crosscut cultural contexts, present diachronic perspectives or establish relationships between different universes.

Submissions for a 30-minute presentation and edited volume should be forwarded to the Scientific Committee, which will proceed to a peer review. Submissions should be sent by email to barbara.vonorelli@khist.uzh.ch until 28th February 2014, with “CFP Dialogue of the Arts 2014” as the subject. The abstracts should include only title and a maximum of 500 words; the abstract must be accompanied by a separate file with a curriculum vitae (maximum: 1 page), that must include personal identification elements, the submission title, academic affiliation and a selection of a maximum of 5 bibliographic references.

Working Languages: English / German / French / Italian