Volume 11, Number 2, May 1989, pp.14-15
The Western Costume Company of Hollywood was recently purchased by Paramount Studio from the four movie studios that shared ownership--Universal, Warner Bros., Fox, and Columbia. Western Costume, with 75 employees and an annual revenue estimated last year at $5 million, now belongs to AHS Trinity Group, an investment group comprised of 3 shareholders: novelist Sidney Sheldon, television agent Bill Harber, and businessman Paul Abramowitz. Harber said, "The reasons our group became involved are simple, I want the historical value and research collection to be available to the generations that follow me. And I want to show a sign that there are certain important institutions in this industry that we should attempt to keep together in America."
Management and organizational changes at the Victoria & Albert Museum are "setting off an uproar in the museum world." In order to increase efficiency, the care of the collections, encourage scholarship and cut costs by separating research and management of the museum's collections, Margaret Thatcher's government is encouraging public institutions to "become more financially self- sufficient". This "self-sufficiency" includes the museum director's request for the resignations of nine senior curators. Critics maintain that "the changes will hamper scholarship and deny curators the intensive contact with the collections they need."
Because artists today do not restrict themselves to traditional materials, contemporary art is suffering the results of quick deterioration. Many artists today feel that the creative process will be hampered if they are to take the time to choose their media with longevity and conservation in mind. Artists alone cannot be held responsible. Art buyers must consider and "investigate whether the artist takes longevity into account when creating his or her works and whether there are problems with other of the artist's works." Conservators have to deal with these problems. Denise Domergue, a conservator specializing in contemporary art, is quoted as saying, "Every piece has a specific problem for which the conservator must develop a specific treatment, I consider every piece that comes into the studio as a new patient with a completely different makeup and history."
Twentieth century art, created using new materials and new methods, allows for living artists to witness the effects of their spontaneity in creation. Robert L. Feller points out, "the difference between the old masters and the new artists is that the oldtimer knew a lot about the qualities and behavior of their materials through long experience--apprenticeships. The new people don't have many opportunities to learn their craft because the materials are not being taught very much." Insurance companies define "inherent vice" as works of art which have been poorly constructed. One insurance company spokesman says, "We're not in the business of insuring inferior masterpieces."
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