Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The 1930's Fashion and Invention

The 1930’s were marked by the Great Depression, the period between WWI and WWII, and many technological advances in fashion, looms, and various related industries including fashion being seen in Hollywood films. In 1929, the stock market crashed and the world was hit by the great depression, unemployment was widespread and materials were often in short supply after the WWI. However, at the same time, there were advances fashion technology. Made-made fibers were now in greater use: especially rayon, viscose, and nylon. Nylon became so popular and easily created for women’s stockings that they were often called “nylons” in reference to the material from which they were made, which completely changed that portion of the industry. Which additionally added to the fashion trend known as “nylons.” In the 1930’s it was known that “nylons” had a seam down the back of the leg, however, when women could not afford them (due to the great depression) they often drew the seam onto the back of their legs to give the appearance of wearing “nylons.”

As hard as many had life in the 1930’s, it gave the people to opportunity to find themselves, and try new things to advance the era. The 30’s gave birth to what is known today as the Classic Hollywood style as clothing was more easily seen in films and how they hung on the body was being scrutinized by viewers, so many designers started to design for the silver screen.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Crocker Art Museum & Christmas Morning, Hôtel de Cluny

The Crocker Museum in Sacramento holds a large collection of both modern and European art. Currently the museum is exhibiting various pieces of Mexican origin.
The Mexican exhibit displays various kinds of artworks, from sculpture to paintings, and even a small shrine. The pieces focused on the revolution in Mexico, and various aspects of life for Mexicans in the United States, including jokes about commonly utilized products, giving them a twist.

The Crocker’s permanent exhibit showcases a variety of pieces, such as sculpture, paintings, pottery, and other modern three-dimensional works. One of my favorite pieces of art is in the hallway connecting the European and Modern Wings of the museum. It is the painting titled Christmas Morning, Hôtel de Cluny by Edwin Deakin. I am particularly fond of this painting because I have visited this location many times (it is nearby our apartment in Paris).
Edwin Deakin is a British-American artist who is most commonly known for his landscapes, which he painted in the romantic style that was common in Britain during his time. While traveling in France, Deakin began painting the buildings in Paris while they were covered in snow. In the painting of Hôtel de Cluny one can see the warm glow of the light emanating from the window, while barely visible birds are perched on top of the ledge. The painting depicts a warm, friendly looking atmosphere, one that offered shelter and warmth during the cold winter months.
Deakin paints with loose, fluid brushstrokes and uses lighting to highlight the building. The warm light seen emanating from within the hotel can be considered an allusion to the holy light of a sanctuary. The stained glass window features the story of the birth of Jesus, which further explains the holy season being depicted. Above the window, highlighted by a ray of light, the coat of arms of the house of Cluny can be seen. This shows that the light of heaven shines upon the Cluny family, and depicts the Hôtel de Cluny as a noble and upstanding establishment.
The front door of the building is slightly ajar, allowing light to pour into the courtyard. This can be seen as an invitation to weary travelers that the Hôtel de Cluny welcomes all, just as the farmer who housed Mary and Joseph did not turn the holy family away, neither will the Cluny Family.
I find myself endeared to the Hôtel de Cluny painting mostly because it the hotel itself looks the same now as it did in 1880. The sense of continuity connects me to the subject. While the building is now a public library filled with books and magazines on art, history, and other genres, one experiences a sense of grandeur when visiting.
The Crocker, in addition to her considerable collection of paintings and modern art, also houses a large collection of pottery from Asia and the Americas, including an entire room devoted to India, China, and Japan. Since the Crocker Art Museum was once a private collection, it has an attractive collection of art and artifacts from around the globe that the Crocker family collected over time. It is an enjoyable museum to visit due it its wide collection of art from different cultures and time periods.

Our World Heritage is in Our Art

Art is meant to be shared and seen by the world, but specifically where in the world poses a question to art scholars today. Should art pieces and historical treasures be returned to their country of origin or should they remain overseas so that viewers from other countries can share in the wealth art has to offer. Many countries have attempted to retrieve their cultural art and artifacts from other countries, but few have prevailed. Some people have even resorted to stealing art to be able to return it to its home country. These people were considered thieves in one country and reverend as heroes in another, but which side is correct?

On the 21st of August 1911, the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci was stolen from the Louvre, in Paris. It was not until the next day that it was discovered missing. When a painter Louis Béroud questioned the guards on the whereabouts of the painting, no one seemed to know where it was and after checking to see if it was being cleaned, it was confirmed that none of the staff had possession of the painting. As soon as her absence was discovered, the French Police were immediately called, the Louvre Museum was closed, and everyone was questioned and investigated.

It would be two years before the Mona Lisa resurfaced, when a man named Vincenzo Peruggia attempted to sell it to the directors of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Vincenzo Peruggia was an Italian Patriot who believed that the painting should be returned to Italy “after it was stolen by Napoleon”. At the time of the theft Peruggia had just finished his work framing pictures in the Louvre, which included the Mona Lisa. Having framed it himself, he was easily able to unframe it and slip the painting under his coat jacket and leave the Louvre at closing time without anyone noticing. While Peruggia was sentenced to seven months in prison for this theft, he got his wish: the Mona Lisa returned (albeit temporarily) to Italy. She went on tour throughout Italy, and Peruggia was reverend as a hero, though the painting was returned to its rightful home at the Louvre in 1913. Since the Mona Lisa was a gift for the French King Francis I by Leonardo da Vinci himself, it was decided that its rightful home would remain France.

Famous Masterpieces have been lost, stolen, rediscovered, damaged, restored, looted, lost again, and finally displayed at various museums around the world. The most notorious art thefts by an institution would be by the British Empire. At the time of Colonization, the British Empire would bring back the spoils of war, anything from paintings to ancient artifacts. Each of these items where moved from their homes and shipped away to England where they now reside in her National Museums to be viewed by the public.

In a BCC article discussing the battle over artifacts from various museums around the world, the secretary of the Committee for Restoration of the Parthenon Marbles, Eleni Cubitt defends Britain’s right to keep Greek Marbles as their museums currently have the safest environment for preserving the marbles. Eleni Cubitt goes on the explain that the British Museum is open for talks about returning these marbles to Greece, but wishes for the best environment for these pieces to be viewed, preserved, and maintained.

While many curators wish to see various art pieces returned to their countries of origin, all curators agree that art should not be moved without the proper means to take care of it and preserve it both in transportation and in the new museums that will house it. Curators are not interested in hording art in one country or another, they wish for the best environment for their pieces with the best visibly so that they can be shared with the world.

Denmark in its time of colonization took many ancient artifacts from Greenland. After Greenland gained full independence, Denmark agreed to help set up her national museum and through this collaboration the Danish-Greenland museum collaboration has returned over 35,000 artifacts. This collaboration shows that art can be moved to its country of origin or rightful ownership if it has a stable environment and proper curatorship. The true concern expressed by the Danish Museum was not the location of the artifacts but their condition proper to the conservation of the piece(s) in question.

Public museums hold the largest known collections of art, and people travel from all corners of the globe to visit these museums. The Louvre in Paris attracts approximately 9 million visitors a year, 80% of which are not residents of France. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York receives 6 million visitors annually, while the British Museum receives 5.8 million. Each of these museums has art on display for the public and allocates funds to toward continuing preservation. If museums where dismantled and all artifacts were sent to the countries of origin we would lose much of the world’s global heritage as the constitutions intended to preserve and safeguard these artifacts would be disrupted.

Adele Bloch-Bauer in her will requested that her paintings be donated to the Austrian State, but after her death her estate fell to her husband who controlled the estate until fleeing the country during WWII. The Austrian State then took control of her property and placed her paintings in the national museum. In 2006 a court case erupted between Austria’s National Museum and the heirs Adele Bloch-Bauer, who were named the heirs of the estate by her husband. The painting by Gustav Klimt of Adele Bloch-Bauer entitled Adele Bloch-Bauer I was the painting in question during the case. This resulted in the painting’s return to the family, which was then sold shortly thereafter at Christie’s Auction House in America and purchased for approximately $135 million by Lauder for the Neue Galerie in New York. In this case the art changed hands, but remained on public display. In many other smaller known cases art has been taken from museums never to be seen again by the public. After these cases, many false claims of famous art pieces began appearing.

“The Artist belongs to his work, not the work to the artist.” Artists wish to see and sell their work across the globe, hoping that people from many different countries will have the opportunity to view their artwork(s). If art was restricted to its country of origin then the international art market would crumble and the industry would be lost, along with millions of jobs around the world.

James Cuno, the president of the Getty Trust and also the writer of Culture war: the case against Repatriating Museum Artifacts, writes in favor of museums keeping their art, even if it has come from another country, with the exception of newly looted or stolen art. Cuno explains that there are two types of art in museums; art that was bought or purchased legally and art that has been considered looted or spoils of war. Cuno explains that if art has been stolen and placed in the Getty Museum and there is proof of that, and that there is another stable museum to send the art, then he is comfortable sending art back to its original country. The Getty Museum has kept its word, and has returned over 40 objects since it has announced that stolen or looted art should be returned to their proper homes.

Cuno mentions Unesco’s Art Repatriation act, which asks museums to return any stolen or looted art. He publically addressed this issue by writing, “This kind of promotion of cultural purity … can produce dangerous, often violent xenophobia… Cultural property should be recognized for what it is: the legacy of humankind and not of the modern nation-state, subject to the political agenda of its current ruling elite.” Cuno writes in favor of not returning art, but a massive exchange of art loans. This would allow other museums to share artifacts with more people around the world so that humanity’s treasures can be seen and shared by everyone.

Many artists bring their art from one country to another either as a gift or to sell it. Leonardo da Vinci brought the Mona Lisa to France and gave it as a gift to King Francis I. Despite the Mona Lisa having originally been painted in Italy the artist intended her for France. In another case a French Painter Vigée le Brun traveled throughout Europe painting the aristocracy of her day, and mentions in her memoirs being part of art academies throughout Europe and how she loved being able to display her work in so many interesting places to so many different audiences. This shows that artists of acclaim do not wish for their work to be restricted to their country of origin.

Words can be lost in translation, but art is universal. Art does not have to be in one spoken language to be understood, it relies on the language of human emotion. A person does not have to be from the same country as the painting to understand it, just as a painting does not need to be located in its country of origin to be understood by the world audience. Art and the artifacts from each country should not be horded, but rather shared throughout various world museums. Today’s curators are concluding that art should not remain in one place, but should be shared in the national museums of each country, as pieces of world heritage that belong to the world’s citizens. Irrespective of how many hands a piece of art passes through, irrespective of how many caring custodians she has, art also belongs to the future generations of the world, who like us and those before us, deserve to know she exists. Understanding our shared global heritage venerates the creative spirit of our shared humanity.

Works Cited
Leonardo da Vinci Mona Lisa 1503-1506 Louvre Musuem Paris, France
The Man Who Stole the Mona Lisa (Art of the Heist) Nick Hudson. Julia Elias June 2013. Film Documentary. Youtube. Web. Dec. 6, 2013
Scotti R.A. Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of the Mona Lisa New York City: Vintage Books Radom House Inc. 2009. Print.
Novalis Hymnen an die Nacht (Hymns to the Night) Wiederstedt 1800 Print.
“Countries Battle over Artefacts.” BBC News 1-2. 27 July, 2004 news.bbc.co.uk Web 9 Dec. 2014
The Studies and Research Division at the Musée du Louvre. Status Report and Key Figures. Paris: Musée du Louvre
Jones, Jonathan “Should all looted art be returned?” The Guardian 9 Jan. 2009. theguardian.com. Web. 9
Vigée Le Brun, Louise Elizabeth Souvenirs Paris: Wildside Press, 1879. Print.
Boehm, Mike “Getty’s James Cuno defends museums’ right to keep Ancient Art.” L.A. Times 2014. Latimes.com. Web. 9 Dec. 2014
Sefrioui, Anne A Guide to the Louvre Paris: Musée du Louvre: 2005. Print.