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Views of the City, His and Hers, With Lens and Brush

Posted By Administration, Friday, February 1, 2008
Updated: Monday, January 13, 2014

"When I arrived in New York in 1935," the photographer Rudy Burckhardt recalled near the end of his life, "I was amazed at the difference in scale between the people and the buildings." Over the course of his career he figured out a way to make the city's architecture fit the human scale he favored. Faced with the same choice, Burckhardt's wife of 40 years, the painter Yvonne Jacquette, opted to focus on the city's skyscrapers.

Opening Friday, "Picturing New York: The Art of Yvonne Jacquette and Rudy Burckhardt" displays photographs by Burckhardt, who died at 85 in 1999, alongside paintings by Ms. Jacquette, 20 years his junior, who is still working. Burckhardt's black-and-white photographs approach the city from several angles, descending from rooftops to street level and even into the subways. Ms. Jacquette's paintings peer down into the canyons between high-rises. This pair of shows does not establish either artist as an unjustly overlooked talent, but it reveals the competing visions of the city behind a romantic and creative partnership.

Vincent Katz, a poet and filmmaker and the son of the painter Alex Katz, is the guest curator of the Burckhardt portion of the show, "Street Dance: The New York Photographs of Rudy Burckhardt." It includes about 90 black-and-white photographs, supplemented by seven short films. "Under New York Skies: Nocturnes by Yvonne Jacquette" consists of 30 paintings and works on paper organized by the museum's painting and sculpture curator, Andrea Henderson Fahnestock.

A large percentage of the Burckhardt photographs on view were taken in the 1930s and '40s, while Ms. Jacquette's paintings date from the '80s through last year. The couple married in 1964 and became part of a close network of creative types, including Willem de Kooning and Alex Katz, who lived and worked in Chelsea, then an industrial section. Both appear in Mr. Katz's scene-defining painting "The Cocktail Party" from 1965.

Burckhardt, who emigrated from Switzerland in 1935, is difficult to classify within the tradition of New York street photography. He was an impatient photographer, taking few exposures even when shooting stationary subjects, and a careless printer who allowed his negatives to become scratched. Photography was not his only medium; he also painted and made short, lyrical 16-millimeter films of the city. His early work has been compared to that of Walker Evans and Berenice Abbott, though without the social or historical conscience. His playful late photographs, from the '70s and '80s, suggest a less aggressive Garry Winogrand.

His photographs also register as the work of an outsider. Burckhardt's most famous pictures, views of Astor Place and the Flatiron Building taken from rooftops, focus on the few places in the city where the street grid is broken. New York landmarks become European boulevards. Another well-known photograph shows the Midtown skyline from the vantage point of a rail yard in Astoria, Queens.

Burckhardt did not set out to make documentary photographs and films, but some of his architectural views have the added benefit of immortalizing neighborhoods that are now hellishly congested or overdeveloped. "Brooklyn, 1940" shows the Sweeney Manufacturing Building, now dwarfed by luxury condominiums, rising from a deserted street in what is now called Dumbo. In Burckhardt's film "Under the Brooklyn Bridge," shots of demolition give way to a charming sequence of children swimming in the East River.

His best photographs convey a filmic sense of motion, particularly his 1939 series of pedestrians outside soda fountains and barbershops. In "Shave 20 Cents," he leaves the toe of a passing man just outside the frame. Several pictures from the same year show legs and feet on sidewalks. Cropped views of women's legs, in the seamed stockings and sensible lace-ups of the day, form graphic compositions against the glass dots that allow natural light into the subway system.

In a series from 1947, Burckhardt took his Leica camera underground. These photographs are often compared to Evans's covert subway photographs of a decade or so earlier, but unlike Evans, Burckhardt photographed openly. His subjects react by hiding behind newspapers, scowling or straightening up in their seats. One man even points at the camera. Burckhardt reprised his subway series in the mid-'80s, and the misery of the transportation system at that time is painfully apparent in the riders' alternately defeated and defensive expressions.

In contrast to her husband, who often seemed to be searching for just the right angle on the city, Ms. Jacquette settled on an aerial perspective in the late '70s. Her earliest New York nightscape, a pastel titled "East River View at Night" (1978), shows the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive from the hospital room of the couple's longtime friend Edwin Denby. Later she refined the frantic texture of the drawing into a more meditative painting.

Ms. Jacquette continues to work in stages, first in pastel and then in one or more large-scale paintings. As a result her paintings can appear inflated. Depicting architectural details and watery expanses with the same tightly clustered, uniform brush strokes, they also seem insufficiently atmospheric.

The aerial sweep of Ms. Jacquette's paintings implies a more privileged New York than the city inhabited by the subway-riding secretaries of Burckhardt's photographs. Ms. Jacquette has been known to charter private planes (for works like "Triboro Triptych at Night," 1987) or call in connections with glamorous offices in Midtown. ("Above Times Square," 2003, shows the view from the Condé Nast cafeteria.)

Sometimes Ms. Jacquette combines perspectives from different buildings, or different floors of the same building. In works made during a residency at the World Trade Center, from 1998 to 2001, she moved between the North and South towers.

Burckhardt's influence is not immediately apparent in Ms. Jacquette's soaring nocturnes, but she credits one of her husband's most famous images as a source of inspiration: "The aerial photograph of Astor Place with the Coca-Cola billboard was a strong example to me of a way one could be high above the street but still avoid some grandiosity."

"Picturing New York: The Art of Yvonne Jacquette and Rudy Burckhardt" is at the Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue, at 103rd Street, (212) 534-1672,, through April 13 ("Street Dance: The New York Photographs of Rudy Burckhardt") and May 4 ("Under New York Skies: Nocturnes by Yvonne Jacquette"). A poetry reading in honor of both artists will be held at the museum on Sunday at 3.

By Karen Rosenberg
For The New York Times

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"I am not retiring from the field"

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Updated: Monday, January 13, 2014

Philippe de Montebello has announced that he will retire in December after 30 years as head of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The eighth and longest serving director in the museum's history, Mr de Montebello has overseen major renovation projects including the opening of the new Greek and Roman galleries and will pass on a $2.9bn endowment, up from $1.36m when he became director in 1977.

He joined the museum as a curatorial assistant in 1963. He became director in 1977, and was also made chief executive officer in 1998.

What are your plans?

I am not retiring. I am stepping down as director of the Met but I am not retiring from the field. At some point in the future I will continue, I hope, to be a voice for the major issues that concern me in the field of art and museology. It will simply be a different platform, and for the moment I have no plans.

Would the U.S. profit form a cultural ambassador, a counterpart to Neil MacGregor's new post in England?

It's so implausible. There is not even a cultural minister. There is no national policy as in England… that would be followed. This remains very much a federation of states, very much a federal system. Every museum is different, answering to different boards. There is no national collections fund, no ministry. It's just not comparable. It is unthinkable that a single person could be officially named to any position that represents all American museums.

How could U.S. cultural policy be improved?

I have no idea that it should. So long as there is a federal system there is no central voice. I'm not sure that I would want one. The plurality of the American museum scene is one of its strengths; it's the great diversity of the institutions. I would see no reason to change it. It works well.

What do you think of international collaborations such as those between the Guggenheim and the Louvre with Abu Dhabi?

I'm sure it's fine. We have never found the need for it for the Met itself. We have our own collegial professional relations with other parts of the world, other institutions, and we have never found any need to codify them or to create anything that had the appearance of exclusivity and, by extension, of restricting access.

You've said one of the strengths of the Met is having the world's treasures under one roof. You inherited the pre-existing Cloisters, but have you ever contemplated creating an off-site extension of the Met?

No. It doesn't mean anybody else shouldn't. I'm not critical of the Louvre, never have been. My interview in Le Monde has always been wrongly interpreted as criticism of the Louvre. It wasn't. It was merely an explanation of our position, which is that we see no reason to have wholly owned subsidiaries in other places. Maybe someday it will become important...As a basic principle there is nothing basically against it. The Met's collections are vast enough so that if someday we wanted to have a branch somewhere, we could, so long as you did not compromise the presentations of the collections here and left enough in the home office, so to speak. But I can't speak for the future.

Thomas Krens has spearheaded some of these projects. What can you say about his running of the Guggenheim?

I have made it a point all my life not to comment on what other museums do and I am not going to start now.

Is there any prospect for an international agreement that would govern museum collecting, particularly in the area of antiquities? Is an international agreement something you might help to motivate?

I think it would be very healthy if at some point there were closure, if a whole set of principles were agreed upon. I think we are still quite far from that. It would have to include not only the collecting institutions in the non-source nations as well as the collecting institutions in the source nations, but also ask what is the responsibility within the source nations as well. The responsibility lies on both sides.

Could a date for known provenance be agreed that would be sufficient to relieve objects from potential restitution claims?

I have had no indication from any source country that such a thing might occur, nor certainly from their judicial branches which are independent from their cultural branches…All museums are talking with each other, looking to harmonise their policies, but everybody works from a different vantage point with a different perspective, with different philosophies, even starting with different goals. Everybody talks about a date. What are you trying to achieve by that date? If one is merely trying to achieve harmony among institutions that is not much of an achievement…I will have in the coming years a great deal more to say and in a fully fleshed-out and carefully articulated way.

The Met's trustee and benefactor Shelby White recently agreed to return to Italy 10 objects from her private collection said to have been looted from archaeological sites. Do you feel she was unfairly treated by the Italians?

I would say Shelby White has been demonised by the press, by archaeologists, by many source countries, by a great many people everywhere, basically as an unjust reward to the fact that she was a collector who exercised transparency and public service. She is one who sponsored archaeological digs, who showed her collection, who displayed it in museums, who published it and announced it. She never hid anything and is paying the price for being actually rather responsible. So yes, I think the answer is that she has become the archetype villain because she made herself unwittingly an easy target.

Do you collect?

I used to collect a bit, yes -- Old Master drawings, early Chinese art (Shang, Zhou objects, bronzes and ceramics) and Islamic art. I still have those things. Periodically, the things that are good enough I give to the Met and make a little room on my walls and on my shelves. I haven't bought for years. With children and grandchildren my resources went towards other things. That was an early part of my career.

Congress recently enacted stricter laws for fractional gifts because collectors keep partially donated works in their homes. Is fractional giving necessary for museums to acquire art?

Absolutely essential… Doesn't the public in the long term benefit more if the object is ultimately going to be given to the public, rather than to say there is a short-term advantage to the collector, therefore the public should be denied it forever? If you pay $100,000 for something and give 25 percent of it to the museum and take your tax deduction on 25 percent of it, why should you not have the benefit of 75 percent of the time for the object? If you pass the laws that some legislators have backed the public gets nothing because then there's no partial interest and there's no gift. I don't see how that is in the public good.

Have the Met's acquisitions diminished because of the new law?

Not yet, but I am sure that it will have its effect.

You describe yourself as a generalist. Is that qualification crucial for the successful direction of an encyclopaedic museum?

There is nothing wrong with being a specialty scholar and at one point I was. If you are a specialty scholar then it means you understand specificity in scholarship. But one can become a generalist or one can have very catholic and broad tastes. Even though all of my work was on Old Master drawings and paintings, particularly 16th-century Northern art, I have always been interested in Egyptian art, in objects and decorative art, in antiquity. I never only looked at French 16th-century Mannerism. If you are going to lead an institution in which 5,000 years of the art of recorded time across the globe is represented, and you're responsible for it, if you have no affinity or curiosity about the art of other parts of the world, or different media than what you're working on, you're in trouble, and so is the institution. That's what I mean by generalist: broad interest.

It is often said that you have no particular affinity for contemporary art.

Really? Why don't you look at the annual report of the last three years….There are lots of perceptions about me – I'm supposed to be arrogant, I'm supposed to be insufferable, I'm supposed to be this, that or the other. Let other people judge what I am and let the record show what I am and what I do.

Interview by Jason Edward Kaufman
For The Art Newspaper

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Ovation TV to Pair First with MOCA in Series Partnership

Posted By Administration, Monday, January 28, 2008
Updated: Monday, January 13, 2014

A co-production by the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and Ovation TV will be the first in a series of collaborations between cultural institutions and the cable arts network to create programming intended to raise the profiles of both partners.

As part of a long-term initiative to be announced today, the network and MOCA have produced a 10-minute video about MOCA's upcoming exhibition "Collecting Collections," opening Feb. 10. The video includes interviews with art collectors, donors and artists and will be part of the exhibition as well as air on Ovation.

Other local institutions that have committed to partner with the network include Los Angeles Opera, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and P.S. Arts. On the list elsewhere in the nation are New York's Museum of Modern Art and Harlem School of the Arts, the New Orleans Center for Creative Artists/Riverfront, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, which plans a video similar to the MOCA piece for a May 31-Sept. 21 exhibition of art by Jeff Koons. The Chicago video will include interviews with Koons and exhibition curator Francesco Bonami.

The partnerships, said Ovation TV Executive Vice President Chad E. Gutstein, will "allow access to media that were heretofore prohibitively expensive or completely unavailable to cultural institutions and arts educational facilities in this country."

Gutstein added, however, that at least in the near future these partnerships will take the form of public service announcements and other short-form programming. In other words, don't expect the relationship with Los Angeles Opera to result in full-length opera productions immediately available on Ovation TV.

"There are lots of guild rules and union rules that opera houses themselves are working out," Gutstein said. "Many things have to change before we can do something like that. But we are working on many different things with our partners, and the idea is to get as much content as possible with them, and through them, into the marketplace."

The MOCA video will be shown not only during the "Collecting Collections" exhibition in MOCA's Reading Room but also on the museum's website. Concurrently with the exhibition, Ovation will make the piece available on the TV network, its website and VOD (video on demand). Ovation TV serves 25 million subscribers nationwide, with satellite carriage on DirecTV (Channel 274) and Dish Network in the Los Angeles area.

"The intent would definitely be to have platforms running on the ground -- that is, actually at the institutions -- online and on air," said Gaynor Strachan Chun, Ovation's senior vice president for marketing.

MOCA spokeswoman Lyn Winter, who said the museum's video would also be broken down into a series of one-minute programs for use on Ovation, expressed enthusiasm about the potential for online uses of the video.

"I think it's really exciting," Winter said. "This kind of content is what we're moving toward. The Internet is becoming more and more like television."

By Diane Haithman
For The Los Angeles Times

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There's an Art to This Voice Mail

Posted By Administration, Sunday, January 27, 2008
Updated: Monday, January 13, 2014

Call the Santa Monica Museum of Art during off-hours and you'll be greeted with this message:

"Hello, this is John Baldessari. You have reached the Santa Monica Museum of Art, which is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary. Sorry we missed your call, but please stay on the line for pertinent information. Thank you so much for your call."

Yes, that's the John Baldessari, the Los Angeles-based conceptual art pioneer.

"Because we're a museum of ideas," says Elsa Longhauser, executive director of the small Santa Monica institution, "to have a generic voice on the answering machine is kind of antithetical to the spirit of what we do. We wanted to greet our visitors with an automated voice that would be meaningful and fun.

"John Baldessari is one of the most important and influential voices in contemporary art, so I asked him if he would be our telephone voice to mark the beginning of our 20th anniversary year, and he was delighted and said yes."

"I thought it was a splendid idea," Baldessari says. "I don't know why anybody hasn't thought of it before. Maybe somebody has, I don't know.

"But maybe I should have said, for more information about this name, press 2," he says, laughing.

The plan is to continue to record different artists' voices over time, Longhauser notes.

"Baldessari is the first, and it's pretty great to have him, so we'll keep that voice for quite a long time, and then we'll continue the adventure."

By Lynn Heffley
For The Los Angeles Times

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The Capa Cache

Posted By Administration, Sunday, January 27, 2008
Updated: Monday, January 13, 2014

To the small group of photography experts aware of its existence, it was known simply as "the Mexican suitcase." And in the pantheon of lost modern cultural treasures, it was surrounded by the same mythical aura as Hemingway's early manuscripts, which vanished from a train station in 1922.

The suitcase — actually three flimsy cardboard valises — contained thousands of negatives of pictures that Robert Capa, one of the pioneers of modern war photography, took during the Spanish Civil War before he fled Europe for America in 1939, leaving behind the contents of his Paris darkroom.

Capa assumed that the work had been lost during the Nazi invasion, and he died in 1954 on assignment in Vietnam still thinking so. But in 1995 word began to spread that the negatives had somehow survived, after taking a journey worthy of a John le Carré novel: Paris to Marseille and then, in the hands of a Mexican general and diplomat who had served under Pancho Villa, to Mexico City.

And that is where they remained hidden for more than half a century until last month, when they made what will most likely be their final trip, to the International Center of Photography in Midtown Manhattan, founded by Robert Capa's brother, Cornell. After years of quiet, fitful negotiations over what should be their proper home, legal title to the negatives was recently transferred to the Capa estate by descendants of the general, including a Mexican filmmaker who first saw them in the 1990s and soon realized the historical importance of what his family had.

"This really is the holy grail of Capa work," said Brian Wallis, the center's chief curator, who added that besides the Capa negatives, the cracked, dust-covered boxes had also been found to contain Spanish Civil War images by Gerda Taro, Robert Capa's partner professionally and at one time personally, and by David Seymour, known as Chim, who went on to found the influential Magnum photo agency with Capa.

The discovery has sent shock waves through the photography world, not least because it is hoped that the negatives could settle once and for all a question that has dogged Capa's legacy: whether what may be his most famous picture — and one of the most famous war photographs of all time — was staged. Known as "The Falling Soldier," it shows a Spanish Republican militiaman reeling backward at what appears to be the instant a bullet strikes his chest or head on a hillside near Córdoba in 1936. When the picture was first published in the French magazine Vu, it created a sensation and helped crystallize support for the Republican cause.

Though the Capa biographer Richard Whelan made a persuasive case that the photograph was not faked, doubts have persisted. In part this is because Capa and Taro made no pretense of journalistic detachment during the war — they were Communist partisans of the loyalist cause — and were known to photograph staged maneuvers, a common practice at the time. A negative of the shot has never been found (it has long been reproduced from a vintage print), and the discovery of one, especially in the original sequence showing all the images taken before and after the shot, could end the debate.

But the discovery is being hailed as a huge event for more than forensic reasons. This is the formative work of a photographer who, in a century defined by warfare, played a pivotal role in defining how war was seen, bringing its horrors nearer than ever — "If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough" was his mantra — yet in the process rendering it more cinematic and unreal. (Capa, not surprisingly, later served a stint in Hollywood, befriending directors like Howard Hawks and romancing Ingrid Bergman.)

Capa practically invented the image of the globe-trotting war photographer, with a cigarette appended to the corner of his mouth and cameras slung over his fatigues. His fearlessness awed even his soldier subjects, and between battles he hung out with Hemingway and Steinbeck and usually drank too much, seeming to pull everything off with panache. William Saroyan wrote that he thought of Capa as "a poker player whose sideline was picture-taking."

In a Warholian way that seems only to increase his contemporary allure, he also more or less invented himself. Born Endre Friedmann in Hungary, he and Taro, whom he met in Paris, cooked up the persona of Robert Capa — they billed him as "a famous American photographer" — to help them get assignments. He then proceeded to embody the fiction and make it true. (Taro, a German whose real name was Gerta Pohorylle, died in Spain in 1937 in a tank accident while taking pictures.)

Curators at the International Center of Photography, who have begun a months-long effort to conserve and catalog the newly discovered work, say the full story of how the negatives, some 3,500 of them, made their way to Mexico may never be known.

In 1995 Jerald R. Green, a professor at Queens College, part of the City University of New York, received a letter from a Mexico City filmmaker who had just seen an exhibition of Spanish Civil War photographs sponsored in part by the college. He wrote that he had recently come into possession of an archive of nitrate negatives that had been his aunt's, inherited from her father, Gen. Francisco Aguilar Gonzalez, who died in 1967. The general had been stationed as a diplomat in the late 1930s in Marseille, where the Mexican government, a supporter of the Republican cause, had begun helping antifascist refugees from Spain immigrate to Mexico.

From what experts have been able to piece together from archives and the research of Mr. Whelan, the biographer (who died last year), Capa apparently asked his darkroom manager, a Hungarian friend and photographer named Imre Weisz, known as Cziki, to save his negatives in 1939 or 1940, when Capa was in New York and feared his work would be destroyed.

Mr. Weisz is believed to have taken the valises to Marseille, but was arrested and sent to an internment camp in Algiers. At some point the negatives ended up with General Aguilar Gonzalez, who carried them to Mexico, where he died in 1967. It is unclear whether the general knew who had taken the pictures or what they showed; but if he did, he appears never to have tried to contact Capa or Mr. Weisz, who coincidentally ended up living the rest of his life in Mexico City, where he married the Surrealist painter Leonora Carrington. (Mr. Weisz died recently, in his 90s; Mr. Whelan interviewed him for his 1985 biography of Capa but did not elicit any information about the lost negatives.)

"It does seem strange in retrospect that there weren't more efforts to locate these things," Mr. Wallis said. "But I think they just gave them up. They were lost in the war, like so many things."

When the photography center learned that the work might exist, it contacted the Mexican filmmaker and requested their return. But letters and phone conversations ended with no commitments, said Phillip S. Block, the center's deputy director for programs, who added that he and others were not even sure at the beginning if the filmmaker's claims were true, because no one had been shown the negatives. (Saying that the return of the negatives was a collective decision of the Aguilar Gonzalez family, the filmmaker asked not to be identified in this article and declined to be interviewed for it.)

Meetings with the man were scheduled, but he would fail to appear. "And then communications broke off completely for who knows what reason," Mr. Block said. Efforts were made from time to time, unsuccessfully, to re-establish contact. But when the center began to organize new shows of Capa and Taro's war photography, which opened last September, it decided to try again, hoping that images from the early negatives could be incorporated into the shows.

"He was never seeking money," Mr. Wallis said of the filmmaker. "He just seemed to really want to make sure that these went to the right place."

Frustrated, the center enlisted the help of a curator and scholar, Trisha Ziff, who has lived in Mexico City for many years. After working for weeks simply to track down the reclusive man, she began what turned out to be almost a year of discussions about the negatives.

"It wasn't that he couldn't let go of this," said Ms. Ziff, interviewed by phone from Los Angeles, where she is completing a documentary about the widely reproduced image of Che Guevara based on a photograph by Alberto Korda.

"I think it was that no one before me had thought this through in the way that something this sensitive needs to be thought through," she said. The filmmaker worried in part that people in Mexico might be critical of the negatives' departure to the United States, regarding the images as part of their country's deep historical connection to the Spanish Civil War. "One had to respect and honor the dilemma he was in," she said.

In the end Ms. Ziff persuaded him to relinquish the work — "I suppose one could describe me as tenacious," she said — while also securing a promise from the photography center to allow the filmmaker to use Capa images for a documentary he would like to make about the survival of the negatives, their journey to Mexico and his family's role in saving them.

"I see him quite regularly," Ms. Ziff said, "and I think he feels at peace about this now."

In December, after two earlier good-faith deliveries of small numbers of negatives, the filmmaker finally handed Ms. Ziff the bulk of the work, and she carried it on a flight to New York herself.

"I wasn't going to put it in a FedEx box," she said.

"When I got these boxes it almost felt like they were vibrating in my hands," she added. "That was the most amazing part for me."

Mr. Wallis said that while conservation experts from the George Eastman House in Rochester are only now beginning to assess the condition of the film, it appears to be remarkably good for 70-year-old nitrate stock stored in what essentially looks like confectionery boxes.

"They seem like they were made yesterday," he said. "They're not brittle at all. They're very fresh. We've sort of gingerly peeked at some of them just to get a sense of what's on each roll."

And discoveries have already been made from the boxes — one red, one green and one beige — whose contents appear to have been carefully labeled in hand-drawn grids made by Mr. Weisz or another studio assistant. Researchers have come across pictures of Hemingway and of Federico García Lorca.

The negative for one of Chim's most famous Spanish Civil War photographs, showing a woman cradling a baby at her breast as she gazes up toward the speaker at a mass outdoor meeting in 1936, has also been found. "We were astonished to see it," Mr. Wallis said. (The photograph, often seen as showing the woman worriedly scanning the skies for bombers, was mentioned by Susan Sontag in "Regarding the Pain of Others," her 2003 reconsideration of ideas from her well-known treatise "On Photography," a critical examination of images of war and suffering.)

The research could bring about a reassessment of the obscure career of Taro, one of the first female war photographers, and could lead to the determination that some pictures attributed to Capa are actually by her. The two worked closely together and labeled some of their early work with joint credit lines, sometimes making it difficult to establish authorship conclusively, Mr. Wallis said. He added that there was even a remote possibility that "The Falling Soldier" could be by Taro and not Capa.

"That's another theory that's been floated," he said. "We just don't know. To me that's what's so exciting about this material. There are so many questions and so many questions not even yet posed that they may answer."

Ultimately, Mr. Wallis said, the discovery is momentous because it is the raw material from the birth of modern war photography itself.

"Capa established a mode and the method of depicting war in these photographs, of the photographer not being an observer but being in the battle, and that became the standard that audiences and editors from then on demanded," he said. "Anything else, and it looked like you were just sitting on the sidelines. And that visual revolution he embodied took place right here, in these early pictures."
By Randy Kennedy
For The New York Times

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The Exalted, Captured but Not Bowed

Posted By Administration, Friday, January 18, 2008
Updated: Monday, January 13, 2014

The photographer Irving Penn put Marcel Duchamp in a corner, exposed Colette's forehead and swaddled Rudolf Nureyev's lithe body in layers of winter clothing. His subjects, who included many of the greatest creative talents of the 20th century, emerged from their portrait sessions with their carefully shaped personas profoundly shaken.

Last spring, in its first foray into modern photography, the Morgan Library & Museum acquired 67 of Penn's portraits of artists, writers and musicians. (Thirty-five were donated by Mr. Penn.) The entire group is temporarily on view in "Close Encounters: Irving Penn Portraits of Artists and Writers," which complements the library's collection of 20th-century drawings, manuscripts, books and musical scores. Organized by a guest curator, Peter Barberie, "Close Encounters" encompasses work from the 1940s, when Mr. Penn first started to work for Vogue, through portraits published in The New Yorker in 2006.

Many of the pictures at the Morgan were included in "Irving Penn: Platinum Prints" at the National Gallery in 2005, which focused on his darkroom artistry. The Morgan's exhibition has more to do with relationships: between creative circles (Europeans and Americans); individuals (H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan; Josef Albers and Jasper Johns); and, most of all, between Mr. Penn and his exalted subjects.

The chronology skips around in places to emphasize artistic tribes. Woody Allen is next to his idol Ingmar Bergman; Norman Mailer sits below Philip Roth and cater-corner to John Updike. (The exhibition would have benefited from more space; hanging some of the pictures in groups of four creates peculiar hierarchies.)

Mr. Penn has been compared to Nadar, the 19th-century French photographer who made studio portraits of the Impressionists, although the comparison is superficial. He shares Nadar's scope but not his sympathetic relationship to the sitter. Working primarily for Vogue, where he collaborated with the art director Alexander Liberman and competed with the photographer Richard Avedon, Mr. Penn developed a signature, confrontational style.

During the late '40s Mr. Penn posed his subjects in austere, enclosed spaces created by movable walls and undulating sections of carpet. These backgrounds allowed him to create drama without resorting to easels, books and other props of the sort he had relied on earlier in the decade (Saul Steinberg with his sketchbook, John Cage leaning over a piano).

More important, the sense of physical confinement coaxed telling reactions from his subjects. Mr. Penn recalled in his 1991 book "Passage": "This confinement, surprisingly, seemed to comfort people, soothing them. The walls were a surface to lean on or push against." Truman Capote slouches solicitously in his corner; Duchamp strikes a suave, Cary Grant-like pose. Georgia O'Keeffe turns her face directly at the camera but leans ever so slightly to one side, a small gesture that destabilizes the whole picture.

In the '50s Mr. Penn adopted a new close-up style that remains his preferred way of working. The earliest example, a portrait of Carson McCullers (taken in 1950, but printed, like many of Mr. Penn's works, decades later), has a haunted, confessional quality. Among the other standouts of this period is a 1957 portrait of Picasso in which his wide-open left eye appears to float between his upturned collar and the brim of his hat.

The windows to the soul are firmly shut in some of the later portraits. Sometimes, as in a picture of Ingmar Bergman, this reads as evidence of inner life; other times, as with the notoriously difficult Louise Bourgeois, it comes across as a sign of frustration. A photograph of Arthur Miller splits the difference; he holds one eyelid closed with the tip of his index finger, while the other eye peers out from behind thick glasses.

The intensity dissipates a bit when Mr. Penn photographs more than one person. Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II sat for him, as did the husband-wife pair Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning and the father-daughter team Joan and Dolores Miró. The exhibition is replete with real and imagined duos.

Two pillars of the French avant-garde, Jean Cocteau and the Rev. Marie-Alain Couturier, who sponsored Le Corbusier for the Ronchamp chapel commission, were photographed separately on the same day in 1948 but in a kind of counterpoint, with the dandyish Cocteau offsetting the black-robed Dominican priest.

One fascinating double portrait from 1960 shows Willem de Kooning and the architect and designer Frederick Kiesler. The photogenic de Kooning dominates the picture, while the sleepy-eyed Kiesler is nearly cropped out.

The same dynamic applies to Mr. Penn's photographs of larger groups. One individual stands out, be it Tanaquil LeClerc among members of the Ballet Society or Orson Welles in a group of Italian writers. "Rock Groups," taken in San Francisco during the 1967 Summer of Love, is an exception. On the left side of this group portrait is Big Brother and the Holding Company; on the right is the Grateful Dead. Everyone, even Janis Joplin, looks strangely neutral.

In "Passage" Mr. Penn wrote: "The hippies and the rock groups surprised me with their concentration. Their eyes remained riveted on the camera lens; I found them patient and gentle." Where he expected confrontation, he found none.

The productive tension between Mr. Penn and his subjects is most evident in a photograph of Jasper Johns, from 2006, which has been given pride of place across from the gallery entrance. Mr. Johns, who is 78, is as dominant in his medium as the 90-year-old Mr. Penn. Mr. Johns's jowly, tight-lipped face squares off with the camera, hanging masklike above the black folds of his robe. His eyes are wide open. The portrait session becomes a staring contest, and no one wins.

"Close Encounters: Irving Penn Portraits of Artists and Writers" is at the Morgan Library & Museum, 225 Madison Avenue, at 36th Street, through April 13; (212) 685-0008.
By Karen Rosenberg
For The New York Times

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Well, It Looks Like Truth

Posted By Administration, Friday, January 18, 2008
Updated: Monday, January 13, 2014

After an autumn of large, expert, risk-free museum retrospectives, the time is right for a brain-pincher of a theme show, which is what "Archive Fever: Uses of the Document in Contemporary Art" at the International Center of Photography is.

Organized by Okwui Enwezor, an adjunct curator at the center, it's an exhibition in a style that's out of fashion in our pro-luxe, anti-academic time, but that can still produce gems. The tough, somber little show "Manet and the Execution of Maximilian" at the Museum of Modern Art last year mixed grand paintings with throwaway prints and demanded a commitment of time and attention from its audience. The payoff was an exhibition that read like breaking news and had the pull of a good documentary. It was the museum's proudest offering of the season.

Mr. Enwezor's "Archive Fever" is up there with it. It has something like the same suspenseful pace, without the focused story line. The archive of the title is less a thing than a concept, an immersive environment: the sum total of documentary images circulating in the culture, on the street, in the media, and finally in what is called the collective memory, the "Where were you when you heard about the World Trade Center?" factor.

Photography, with its extensions in film, video and the digital realm, is the main vehicle for these images. The time was, we thought of photographs as recorders of reality. Now we know they largely invent reality. At one stage or another, whether in shooting, developing, editing or placement, the pictures are manipulated, which means that we are manipulated. We are so used to this that we don't see it; it's just a fact of life.

Art, which is in the business of questioning facts, takes manipulation as a subject of investigation. And certain contemporary photographers do so by diving deep into the archive to explore its mechanics and to carve their own clarifying archives from it.

"Archive Fever" puts us deep inside right from the start. The gallery walls have been covered with sheets of plain industrial plywood. The exhibition space looks like the interior of a storage shed or a shipping container packed with images both strange and familiar.

Familiar comes first: Andy Warhol's early 1960s "Race Riot," a silk-screened image of a black civil rights marcher attacked by police dogs. Warhol, our pop Proust, was a child of the archive; he lived in it and never left it. He culled his images straight from the public record — in this case Life magazine — and then made them public in a new way, as a new kind of art, the tabloid masterpiece, the cheesy sublime.

In the process he messed up our habit of sweetening truth with beauty, of twisting the base and the awful into the transcendent. He nailed art's moral ambivalence, pegged it as a guilty party and kept hammering away at this. People who hate the 1960s for the illusions they shattered usually hate Warhol too. He was a slippery spoiler.

The second, far less well-known work that opens the show is a 1987 silk-screen piece by Robert Morris that does what the Warhol does but in a deadlier way. It too is based on an archival image, a 1945 photograph of the corpse of a woman taken in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Although such pictures initially circulated in the popular press, they were soon set aside in an ethically fraught image bank of 20th-century horrors. As if acknowledging prohibitions, Mr. Morris has half-obscured the woman's figure with old-masterish strokes of paint and encased it, like a relic, in a thick black frame swelling with body parts and weapons in relief.

The series of war-related paintings this piece came from took a lot of critical heat in the 1980s. Mr. Morris was accused of, at best, pandering to a market for neo-Expressionism; at worst, of exploiting the Holocaust. Now that his reputation as an influential artist of probing diversity is becoming more clear, so is the impulse behind this work. When you are looking at great art in museums, it seems to say, you are, whether you know it or not, looking at realities like the one you see here. Art is not merely a universal ornament of civilization. It is a cautionary tale in need of constant translation.

There are many tales in "Archive Fever." In most, fact and fiction are confused. A group of pictures called "The Fae Richards Photo Archive" (1993-1996), produced by Zoe Leonard in collaboration with the filmmaker Cheryl Dunye, purports to document the life of an African-American actress from her childhood early in the 20th century through her post-civil rights era old age. The substance of the narrative, including a film career sabotaged by racism, rings true; but Fae Richards never existed. Her life was staged for the contemporary camera.

So, in a different way, was the saga suggested in "The Sher-Gil Archive" (1995-97) by Vivan Sundaram, an artist in New Delhi. In this case the people are real, members of Mr. Sundaram's family as photographed by his great grandfather in colonial India. But Mr. Sundaram has altered the pictures, mixing eras and generations, meticulously splicing an imaginary whole from real archival parts.

Other artists present randomness as the archive's logic. The casual snapshots that make up Tacita Dean's salon-style "Floh" may look like a natural grouping. In fact they are all found pictures that the artist, acting as a curator, has sorted into a semblance of unity.

The thousands of images in a looping 36-hour slide projection by Jef Geys would seem to be linked by a firmer thread. They are a visual archive of Mr. Geys's photographic output of 40 years. Whether they provide evidence of aesthetic development, though, or insight into the artist's maturing mind and soul, will be known only to the most devoted of viewers.

In any case, the romantic notion that an artist's work and soul are inevitably of a piece has long been poked at and played with by artists themselves. Sherrie Levine's photographs of Walker Evans photographs debunk the heroic ideals of personal vision in art. At the same time, because the copies are genuine Sherrie Levines, the ideal is reaffirmed; and another name enters the market, the museums, the history books.

Just as Ms. Levine questions authenticity as a component of art making, some of her contemporaries question its role in writing history. In a video called "The Specialist: Eichmann in Jerusalem" (1999), the Israeli artist Eyal Sivan reordered scenes in videos of the 1961 trial of the Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann to create new sequences and, some have said, a less damning portrait of him. In elaborate conceptual projects the artist Walid Raad revisits the Lebanese civil war of the 1980s in minute, graphic detail, through the voices of people who never existed using details he has invented.

For some artists details, or rather the accumulation of them, are the only truth. On large sheets of paper, Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957-1996) printed photographic portraits of almost 500 people killed by gunfire in American cities in a single week in 1989. Ilán Lieberman's "Lost Child" series consists of a stream of hand-drawn thumbnail portraits, based on photographs in Mexican newspapers, of missing children.

And in the show's most startling example of archival accumulation, the German artist Hans-Peter Feldmann has filled a room with the framed front pages of 100 international newspapers — from Paris, Dubai, Sydney, Seoul, New York and elsewhere — printed on Sept. 12, 2001. Questions flood in: Why were certain pictures of the devastated Twin Towers used in certain places? Why does Osama bin Laden's face appear on some pages and not on others? And how is the story reported in languages we cannot read; Arabic, say, or Persian? And what could readers who didn't read English know of our reports? To enter this archive is to relive recent history. I was reluctant to go in, but then I couldn't leave.

Mr. Feldmann's work, made for this exhibition, is monumental. Fazal Sheikh's "Victor Weeps: Afghanistan" series (1997) is, in almost every way, not. Each of the four pictures in the show is of a hand holding a passport-size photographic male portrait. Statements by the family members who hold the photos tell us that they are portraits of Afghan mujahedeen fighters who had died or disappeared during battles with occupying Russian forces in the 1980s.

Although the portraits are in each case held loosely, even tenderly, the words they evoke are passionate. These little pictures — routine, unexceptional, of a kind turned out in countless numbers — may be the only visual link between the dead and their survivors. Here the archival is profoundly personal.

But do Mr. Sheikh's beautiful pictures, or the photographs within them, represent some special, easily approached corner of the great archive that surrounds, shapes and even overwhelms us? Do they convey , for once, some comprehendible truth? No, just the ordinary one: When it comes to full disclosure, art never, ever speaks for itself, as Mr. Enwezor's eloquent exhibition tells us in many ways.

"Archive Fever: Uses of the Document in Contemporary Art" is at the International Center of Photography through May 4; 1133 Avenue of the Americas, at 43rd Street; (212) 857-0000,

By Holland Cotter
For The New York Times

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Surprise Name on Bill at BCAM

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Updated: Monday, January 13, 2014

A new name is going up at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's soon-to-open Broad Contemporary Art Museum.

LACMA trustee Jane Nathanson and her husband, communication and investment mogul Marc Nathanson, will have a ground-floor gallery in the building named for them in recognition of a $10-million gift to the museum to be announced today. The donation is earmarked for contemporary art programs and acquisitions.

"It's going to be one of the best spaces in the world to show contemporary art. It's perfection," Jane Nathanson said of BCAM, as the Broad building is being called. "I'm a museum rat. I travel all around the world just to go to museums and art shows. We are so impressed with this building that it is where we chose to name a major gallery."

Putting donors' names on art galleries is not new at American museums, and LACMA has its share of galleries honoring collectors and supporters, such as Edward and Hannah Carter, Stewart and Lynda Resnick, and Steve Martin. But the practice might not be expected at the edifice so strongly identified with philanthropist and collector Eli Broad, who paid for the $56-million structure (to be unveiled Feb. 16), provided a $10-million fund for the acquisition of artworks and lent 220 pieces to the inaugural exhibition.

Michael Govan, director of LACMA, said that naming galleries at BCAM was not a given.

"Eli's gift was so large that it was at his discretion," said the director, who took charge of LACMA early in 2006 after the Broad building was underway. "He wants us to have the freedom to attract other donors. He told me from Day One to go out and get gifts, get the community involved. This is a sign that he wants the museum to be public."

Galleries at LACMA do not have specific price tags in terms of money or art, Govan said. "We are raising money to fuel the museum's growth and endowment. Once you settle on what people think they can give, you come up with appropriate recognition. The Nathansons wanted to be recognized at the Broad building."

Govan characterized the couple's gift as "another example of the sort of power the community has to offer. These are people who are major collectors, civically minded, involved in museums. They are an incredible credit to Los Angeles."

The Nathansons -- whose Los Angeles home is filled with contemporary art collected over the last 40 years, including major works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, George Segal, Barbara Kruger and Jennifer Steinkamp -- support many of the city's arts and educational institutions. Jane, a psychologist who is organizing BCAM's opening gala fundraiser, often plays a similar role at Los Angeles' Museum of Contemporary Art, where she is also a trustee and, with her husband, underwrote MOCA's upcoming exhibition "Collecting Collections." Marc is a member of boards at UCLA, USC and the L.A. Philharmonic.

Their gift to LACMA was negotiated some time ago, but the announcement comes after news that Broad plans to keep his collection in a foundation that functions as a lending library, instead of giving the works to museums, as he had planned to do for many years.

Although he never promised additional art gifts and museum officials say the change of strategy was not a surprise, his involvement with LACMA, where he is also a trustee, raised hopes that the cream of the collection would eventually go there. Under the current arrangement, LACMA can borrow up to 200 works from the foundation's 2,000-piece holdings at any given time during Broad's lifetime.

A statement released last week by Broad said: "We believe that LACMA is a great 21st century encyclopedic museum, and as a result, LACMA is our key partner and favored institution in showing works from our collections."

The controversy that erupted over Broad's change of plans is a sensitive issue for the Nathansons, who say they intend to give most of their collection to LACMA and MOCA but are not ready to make that commitment.

"No good deed goes unpunished," Jane Nathanson said. "Eli is one of the great philanthropists in this city. I think it is unfortunate that the lending foundation was made to seem as if it is a negative for LACMA, which it is not. We are more than thrilled that Eli stepped forward and underwrote the Broad Contemporary Art Museum when not too many people were stepping forward.

"The Broad Contemporary Art Museum gives LACMA space where good contemporary shows will take place and people will begin to give their collections. I would not be at all surprised in the future if Eli gives some of his."

Marc Nathanson said he is equally excited about what's going on at LACMA, although Jane is playing their family's lead role at the Wilshire Boulevard institution.

"I think it's a whole renaissance for the museum and Los Angeles," he said. "Los Angeles has lost many Fortune 500 headquarters. We rely on entrepreneurs and philanthropy. We need to encourage them, not discourage them, because we don't have the Arcos and the Security Pacific Banks that were very supportive of the arts in their time."
By Suzanne Muchnic
For The Los Angeles Times

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Finding the Silver Lining Moving on to Plan B

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Updated: Monday, January 13, 2014

When you're director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, talking money from billionaires is part of the job description. But now LACMA Director Michael Govan faces a tougher task: hailing Eli Broad's generosity and opening LACMA's new Broad Museum of Contemporary Art while Broad tells the world how he decided not to give the museum his art collection.

"Eli has never changed his story with LACMA," Govan said on the afternoon after Broad's decision hit the headlines last week. "He has never promised something he hasn't delivered. . . . He's made a huge investment in this place."

Indeed, Broad footed the $56-million cost of putting up the new building and put up about $10 million more to buy two artworks for the inside. But LACMA's connection with Broad is "an evolving relationship," Govan said.

On Feb. 16, LACMA will unveil the building, nicknamed BCAM, with its interiors dominated by 220 pieces borrowed from Broad and his Broad Art Foundation.

Through years of plan-laying and fundraising for LACMA's expansion, Broad, a LACMA trustee, said that those and about 1,800 other artworks in his control would probably go to one or more museums eventually. But last week he declared a new strategy: Have his foundation keep all the artworks but lend them frequently.

LACMA officials say their agreement with Broad says the museum can borrow and display up to 200 works at a time from Broad and the Broad Art Foundation during Eli Broad's lifetime.

"I do imagine that many of these works will live at LACMA," said Govan. "Will they be owned by LACMA? I'm not sure it matters."

Govan and LACMA contemporary art curator Lynn Zelevansky maintain that Broad's decision was no surprise to them, but it was to the rest of the art world, which has seen LACMA left in the lurch by would-be donors including Norton Simon (who started his own museum in 1975) and Armand Hammer (who started his own museum in 1990).

Honestly, Govan was asked, who wouldn't rather have ownership than a long-term loan?

"It's just not an easy question with a collection this large," the director insisted, noting the cost of storing and caring for the works, many of which are very large, as their roles in art history grow and shrink. Ultimately, Govan said, "you want the masterpiece on view, for the public, at LACMA."

In the larger picture, "the museum can't lose," said Govan. "We've not risked anything."

He even found a "silver lining" to Broad's decision to hold on to his art: This "should make it easier" to woo other collectors, who may have felt that LACMA's new space was Broad's exclusive playground, Govan said. "The working assumption out there was that this was just for the Broad Collection."

Still, Govan's duties in getting BCAM open now include facing pointed questions over what Broad is giving and getting.By the time Govan arrived at LACMA in early 2006 -- in large part because of Broad's support -- plans for BCAM were well underway. Broad had already pledged $50 million for the new building and $10 million for art to go inside, and he selected architect Renzo Piano. (Although the building cost grew by $6 million, LACMA officials note, Broad has promised to pay the entire cost.)

Govan noted that the unorthodox decision to call Broad's building a "museum" within a museum was made by predecessor Andrea Rich.

Would Govan have made that decision?

"I don't know. I've gone back and forth on it," the director said.

The most important part of BCAM's opening, Govan said, is that Los Angeles is about to have 58,000 square feet of contemporary art exhibition space that it didn't have before, thanks to Broad. (The museum is also unveiling a new $25-million entrance pavilion bankrolled by energy company BP.)

Broad, 74, amassed his fortune in the housing and financial-services industries and has been a philanthropic force nationwide for more than two decades, channeling money to cultural, education and scientific causes. In business and philanthropy, he has been known as a deal maker who makes the most of his leverage.

In describing his move last week, he said that one option he considered was "to build our own museum as others have done. We chose not to do that. But we were concerned that if we gave our collection to one or several museums, 90% or so would be in storage all the time."

Pieces borrowed from Broad and his Broad Art Foundation will dominate the new space for the next year, Govan said, but after that, LACMA is free to display whatever it wants to -- not only works from Broad but also special exhibitions such as a planned 2009 show on German art during the Cold War, which is likely to rely heavily on artworks borrowed from institutions worldwide.

Govan envisions that one-third of BCAM's space will be devoted to items that will largely stay put, another one-third to exhibitions changing every six to 12 months and another one-third to temporary exhibitions lasting roughly three months.

What, apart from massive tax deductions, does Broad get out of this? His name is up on signs all over. His art-capital campaign gets a big boost. His collection's market value could rise -- but Broad has said the works will not go back on the market, and Govan says he has Broad's "100% solemn oath" on that subject.

BCAM also gives Broad a chance to show his works in a building by the architect of his choosing, without having to buy real estate. And for the next year that Broad's pieces are on view at LACMA, the museum will be paying to insure them, at a time when art insurance rates have been soaring. LACMA officials say their art-insurance costs (which fluctuate depending on what's on loan) were $1.04 million in 2006 and $307,000 in 2007 -- and will be $1.4 million in 2008.

"The future will be different," said Govan, noting that LACMA and Broad have until February 2009 to make new insurance plans.

Govan estimates that the expansion will add about $3 million yearly to LACMA's operating expenses, a rise of about 7%. To make ends meet, Govan said, he's counting on increases in donations, membership and attendance, which was 616,491 for the year that ended June 30.

On Jan. 1, LACMA raised its admission fees for non-member adults from $10 to $12. And it's boosting parking prices from $5 to $7 for self-parking and $10 for valet parking, and adding 525 self-parking and 750 valet spaces to the current 220 spaces at Wilshire Boulevard and Spaulding Avenue.

Govan wouldn't say how many more visitors he's hoping to attract. But he did note that he has his eyes on the numbers at the Museum of Contemporary and Art in Los Angeles (316,000 visitors in 2007) and Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (360,000 visitors). . "I'd like to see LACMA double its attendance over the next few years," he said.

One element that seemed to separate BCAM from LACMA at first was the $10 million Broad offered for acquisitions and the new board that was to oversee those acquisitions. But that first $10 million has now been spent, Govan said, on a Richard Serra sculpture and less costly works by Alighiero Boetti and Chris Burden (a joint acquisition with MOCA), all of which Govan said he was eager to get. Govan said he considers that acquisition board dissolved, with future acquisitions to be decided the same way that they are for other LACMA departments.

Now, apart from BCAM's title, said LACMA President Melody Kanschat, "nothing makes it different" from the museum's other buildings "except it's newer and it doesn't leak."

"And," added Govan, "it's got great light."
By Christopher Reynolds
For The Los Angeles Times

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Caroline K. Keck, Art Conservator, Dies at 99

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Updated: Monday, January 13, 2014

Caroline K. Keck, a pioneer of art conservation, died on Dec. 17 at her home in Cooperstown, N.Y. She was 99.

Her death was announced by her son Lawrence Waugh Keck.

Mrs. Keck and her husband, Sheldon Keck, were two of the most influential conservators of the modern era. They were instrumental in converting the centuries-old craft of art restoration into a profession based on scientific research, the use of modern technology and adherence to shared methodological standards. While art restorers once were secretive and too often used techniques that harmed artworks, the Kecks insisted that conservators should thoroughly document their procedures and that everything done to a piece should be easily and fully reversible.

In 1960 the Kecks founded the Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, with Mr. Keck directing the center until 1965. In 1970, under the auspices of the State University of New York College at Oneonta, the Kecks established the Cooperstown Conservation training program, in which Mrs. Keck worked and taught until she retired in 1981. Graduates of both programs now work for major museums throughout the United States. In 1987 the Cooperstown program moved and became part of SUNY Buffalo.

Mrs. Keck wrote several important books in the field, including "How to Take Care of Your Pictures," first published by the Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in 1954. It remains a classic, along with "Handbook on the Care of Paintings" (1965), "A Primer on Museum Security" (1966) and "Safeguarding Your Collection in Travel" (1970).

Caroline Martin Kohn was born in New York City. She graduated from Vassar College and received a master's degree in art history from Harvard University in 1932. She met Mr. Keck when they both took a course on art materials at the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard. They were married in 1933. Mr. Keck died in 1993.

In 1934 Mr. Keck established an art conservation laboratory at the Brooklyn Museum, and he ran it until 1961. Mrs. Keck worked closely with him, and she oversaw the program when he was away for military service during World War II and when he was on research trips.

After World War II the Kecks helped establish conservation departments in numerous museums. They were consultants for the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Phillips Collection in Washington and other institutions. Mrs. Keck, who was well known for her strong opinions, irreverent manner and salty language, also served as personal conservator for the painters Georgia O'Keeffe and Edwin Dickinson and for the art collection of Nelson A. Rockefeller.

In addition to her son Lawrence, of Annandale, Va., Mrs. Keck is survived by another son, Albert, of Cooperstown, and two grandchildren.
By Ken Johnson
For The New York Times

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