Thursday, November 30, 2006

Art Or History?


Nazis force a Czech Jew artist to paint images of Gypsies being led to their deaths. She survives, eventually becoming a Disney animator. Years later, she finds out that the paintings are on exhibit at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Poland. She wants them back. The Museum says no. Comic artists come to her defense ...

That's the story in a nutshell. Rarely does our professional life (museums) and personal interests (comics, among others) dovetail so well.

An article in yesterday's LA Times does a nice job of encapsulating the issue.

Here's Our Opinion

The Museum should give her back the art! Play nice. Perhaps you can broker a deal to get back some or all of the art upon her death. Perhaps not. We don't see this as any different from art stolen from private Jewish collectors that has been the subject of so many controversies over the last 20 + years. This case is unique. Stop hiding behind the potential precedent and do the right thing. Get high quality scans done. Exhibit them. Tell the whole story as to why there are prints on exhibit and not the originals. It's a very engaging story that your visitors and most likely the bulk of survivors and their descendents would appreciate. Take the high road. The Nazis certainly didn't.

What Can You Do?

The U.S. State Dept. is reportedly involved, though with Poland one of the few "coalition of the willing" in Iraq, we suppose the U.S. won't push them too hard and risk poisoning Polish public opinion. Call your elected official and ask them to work on the artist's behalf.

Why Do We Care?

We're not the heartless bastards you think we are. We like art and we hate to see real artists screwed (PUTTING ON ART SNOB HAT: Except for maybe Wyland and Thomas Kinkaid, where the "real artist" designation is debatable). We work in museums and we don't like it when museums take advantage of individuals, as in this case, or of nations, as in the case with the British Museum and Greece, regardless of their protestations.


Post a Comment

<< Home