Welcome to Off the Wall. We’ve skimmed the news around the museum, and want to share the highlights with you.
Written while hoping for a snow day.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.” –Charles Dickens, Hard Times
THIS ISN’T A PETTING ZOO
Are you having trouble sleeping at night? When you close your eyes, do you see hands mercilessly molesting masterpieces by Manet? Do you wake up in a cold sweat, muttering, “Please, don’t touch the art.” “Be careful of the art!” “Please stand a little further from the art”? If this is you, it’s very possible that you, or someone you know, works at or frequents an art gallery. Ever since you were a little child roaming these sacred halls on a field trip, you’ve known that you are not allowed to touch the art. But have you ever stopped and asked yourself…why? Is it because it’s expensive and not yours? Yes. Are there other reasons? YES.
JUST TELL US THE OTHER REASONS ALREADY.
Art can be enjoyed and appreciated in so many ways, but, like any other valuable thing, it must be carefully protected. As annoying as it might be to constantly have someone telling you not to touch something, or to move away from something, imagine your horror if the unthinkable happened and you actually ended up causing some serious damage? Because, let’s face it. There are so many thinks that could be easily destroyed in an art museum. Nobody wants to be a Mr. Flynn. It was just an accident (cough, $110,000 accident). This is a guy who was so incredibly clumsy that the museum was actually a little concerned that he was a criminal for a while. Failing to lace your shoes properly to the point of nearing criminal activity is not a prized achievement for anyone. Unfortunately, Mr. Flynn isn’t alone. His little ‘incident’ is overshadowed by the time a student at the Metropolitan Museum in New York lost her balance and tripped, falling into a $130,000,000 Picasso. I spelled it out with all the zeros for emphasis. I haven’t found any sources to verify my belief that she was named the Worst Art Student of 2010, but I’m sure I’m correct. But maybe it’s the museum’s fault. Maybe museum staff need to have a check point at the entrance where we go along and tighten everyone’s shoelaces and feed them a granola bar so they don’t get lightheaded. Just a thought.
CRASHING INTO ART IS ONE THING… BUT JUST TOUCHING?
We touched on this (HAHA GET IT?) for a moment last week. We gave you a song to sing while wandering through the museum (maybe we should make a playlist?), but we didn’t really give you the specifics and reasons for not touching the art. First of all, you’ve probably heard before that we have oils in our hands that can damage old stuff. This is a bad reason to refuse to hold your grandma’s hand, but it’s a really good reason not to touch a Renoir. Preserving art in the best condition possible isn’t about keeping art away from you; it’s about keeping art for you. And your kids. And your kids’ kids. If we take good care of it, we’ll be able to enjoy it for generations. Just like your parents used to say, we’re only doing this because we love you.
SO… NUTSHELL VERSION?
We are not so much touched by your concern, as we are concerned by your touch. *drops mic*
REPEAT AFTER ME…
WHAT TO SAY IF YOU THINK TWO PEOPLE TRIPPING ISN’T CAUSE TO HAVE OUR SKIVVIES IN A BUNCH…
“12-year-old sticks gum onto 1.5M painting.” That’s the headline from an article about the time a 12-year-old stuck his gum onto a 1.5M painting. Another time, a visitor at a different museum got a little too close and snagged his clothing on the art. When he walked away, the $2,000 work walked away with him–right into the ground. We’ll keep our knickers bunched for now, thanks.
WHAT TO SAY IF MODERN ART MAKES YOU SICK…
This kid in England knows how you feel. He must have chugged one-too-many juice boxes on his way to the Tate Britain in London, because by the time they got to Carl Andre’s Venus Forge, he vomited all over it. Venus Forge at auction? $2.6 million. Raising your hand and asking where the bathroom is? Priceless.
WHAT TO SAY IF YOU GET HUNGRY WHILE BROWSING…
Is this food or art? While some culinary masters might argue that their food is art, museum staff hope that our patrons have the wisdom to differentiate between artistic food and food that is art. Unfortunately, the staff at The National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh misplaced their trust in one museum visitor. Here’s the deal: it was a piece of art created to look like a bafflingly realistic bag of doughnuts. Too realistic. So baffling. Long story short, someone took a doughnut. We don’t know who did it; we don’t know why. We just really hope they were terribly disappointed when they dipped it in their coffee.
THINGS TO KNOW
Hennagin: This is not the beer you’re thinking of. This collection features many prominent photographers, including Edward Weston, Paul Caponigro, Laura Gilpin and Henri Cartier-Bresson. The Carol Beesley Hennagin collection is proof that great photographs can be found everywhere. Beginning with her days as a graduate student at UCLA, where she studied with the late Robert Heinecken (Seriously, you’re thinking about beer again? That’s not even how it’s spelled.) in the early 1970s, and continuing with her turn to serious collecting in the 1980s, Beesley has zealously pursued her love of photography.
Weitzenhoffer Collection: I’m not even going to make a joke, because reality is too neat. This is the single most important collection of French Impressionism ever given to an American public university. Yeah, I know. Pretty cool. This collection is the celebrity pack, including artists like Degas, Gauguin, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh, Vuillard, and others. In other words, all the amazing artists who are so good they even have name recognition with us laypeople who know nothing about art. The donation came to the University of Oklahoma at the bequest of Clara Weitzenhoffer, an art collector and long-time supporter of the university.
Ambassador George Crews and Cecilia DeGoyler McGhee Collection: There’s going to be a quiz tomorrow and you’re expected to remember this whole collection title. Just kidding. But if you did, we would all be very impressed. This is a collection of stunning icons, gifted to us by the aforementioned Ambassador and Mrs. Georg Crew McGhee. Icons are made for both the home and for inclusion in large altar screens in churches. The ones in this collection are from Greece, Russia, Romania, and Asia Minor. Some date back to the 16th century.
Check back next week for riveting descriptions of our other collections.
artists born several years ago this week.
3/1 Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Balthus, Giovanni Dupre, Nikolaos Gyzis, Oscar Kokoschka, Theresa Bernstein | 3/2 Robert Williams | 3/3 Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps, Arnold Newman, Asger Jorn | 3/4 AfroBasaldella, Henry Raeburn, Kano Tanyu, William Dobson | 3/5 Giovanni Battista, Tiepolo, Howard Pyle | 3/6 Michelangelo | 3/7 Boris Kustodiev, Piet Mondrian | 3/8 Anselm Kiefer, Anthony Caro, Colin Campbell Cooper, Rosso Florentino