WAACNewsletter
Volume 11, Number 2, May 1989, pp.15-16

AYMHM: Articles You May Have Missed

Rosanna Zubiate, column editor
"Authenticating Ancient Marble Sculpture", by Stanley V. Margolis, Scientific American, Vol. 260, no. 6, (June 1989), pp 104-110.

Stone sculpture is notoriously difficult to prove genuine. As prices for such works skyrocket, geochemists are being called in to help settle questions that art history and a connoisseur's eye cannot resolve." The article discusses the Getty Kouros, genuine; the Getty's ex-Skopas, judged to be worked in modern times; and a Cycladic Harpist, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which requires additional research.

The ACS Symposium in L.A., Sept. 28-29, 1988", by Ellen McCrady, The Abbey Newsletter, Vol. 12, no. 8, (December 1988), pp 130- 131. The symposium topic was Historic Textile and Paper Materials: Conservation and Characterization II.

"Beware the Particulates", by Sandra J. Ackerman, Archaeology, Vol. 42, no. 3 (May/June 1989), p 80.

A recent international conference on the packaging and shipping of artworks and artifacts, sponsored by Alitalia, the Italian airline, and Olivetti, the information technology company, was held in Rome, and brought together museum directors, conservators, archaeologists, transport representatives, and insurance companies. All aspects of packaging and shipping were touched on without drawing any final conclusions. Next winter a follow-up conference will cover the latest research on packaging and other related areas of concern.

"Instrumental Analysis in Art and History", Analytical Chemistry, (Feb. 15, 1989), pp 311A-313A.

Neutron-activated autoradiography is presenting "images and numerical data that tell of the spatial and quantitative distribution of elements, boundaries between different materials, images that a painter had made but then painted over, and patterns of brushstrokes even on underlying coats of the painting that are invisible to the museum visitor." Art historical research also is taking on new complexions because of modern instrumentations.

"An End to the Yellowing Pages", Newsweek, (March 20, 1989), p 80.

In the mid-1800's changes were made in the way paper was produced. These changes have caused 78 million volumes in American research libraries to crumble away. Durable paper produced from wood was perfected in 1960, but only recently have costs become competitive. Large publishing houses have recently agreed to publish the first printing of quality hard-cover trade books on acid-free paper.

"Who Owns Our Past?", by Harvey Arden, National Geographic, Vol. 175, no. 3 (March 1989), pp 376-390.

In 1987, digging rights on Slack Farm in western Kentucky were leased to 10 men who spent two months "ripping out and crumpling an irreplaceable page of our common heritage." This event has highlighted the controversy caused by the looting, sale, and exhibition of Native American remains and grave goods. This extensive article discusses the many points, both pro and con, which surround this important issue. Additional keywords: NAGPRA.

"Cast in Doubt", by Sylvia Hochfield, Art News, Vol. 88, no. 2 (February 1989), pp 108-115.

Any collector who owns an original wax, plaster, or terra-cotta model of a work that is not protected by copyright can have it cast into bronze and sell that cast. If he doesn't own the original model, he can cast anyway--from the bronze itself. The process, which is called 'surmoulage', results in a product that is smaller and clearly inferior in quality to the original bronze: softer in appearance and less distinct in surface detail. Dealers often justify such ventures on the grounds that they make artworks available to a wide public, but surmoulages are not cheap.

Recommendations have been presented asking that both legislation and self-regulation be required of dealers. Until these recommendations are reality, art collectors should be advised that they should beware in purchasing sculpture.

"The Fall of a Great Museum", by John Pope-Hennessy, The New York Review of Books, 27 April 1989, pp 10-14.

As a former director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Mr. Pope- Hennessy eloquently describes the Museum's government history, the staff restructuring plans presented to the present governing body, and the impending repercussions this restructuring will have on this British treasure house, as well as on museums in the United States.

The staff restructuring plans were brought about last January when Mrs. Esteve-Coll, the Museum's new director, presented to the board of trustees plans requesting that the "housekeeping (i.e. the receiving, documenting, moving, storing and conserving of works of art)" be separated from what is called scholarship. The report states that the "'housekeeping' posts would be compensated by the amalgamation of curatorial departments and a reduction in curatorial posts." Therefore, for example, metalwork, ceramics, and sculpture would be directed by a single senior officer. Mr. Pope-Hennessy states, "When you dismiss members of a museum staff, you rid yourself not only of their personalities but of the knowledge they have accumulated. If the dismissals are persisted in, the Victoria and Albert will be more ignorant than at any other period in this century." Mr. Pope-Hennessy is today a professor at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University.

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