Sunday, May 03, 2015

My Word - Rites of Passage Spring 2015

Often the thought of experiencing a rite of passage is accompanied by the dread of dealing with another milestone. Sometimes these events such as the passing of a loved one are negative and very difficult to get through. But these milestones especially those accompanied by age are not negative and should be celebrated. My feeling is that I earned the experience gained by 40 years in business, 25 years married, and now this summer 20 years as an appraiser on Antiques Roadshow. Yes I am probably closer to the end than the beginning, but with the challenging events in the art world today its exciting to be a part of it.

In this issue we have a follow up on the events in the Middle East which have resulted in a rather broad legislative effort that gives our government very wide latitude in determining what we can and cannot do in art world. The almost unfathomable atrocities in Iraq and Syria should give all of pause to reconsider James Cuno's concept of universal museums to spread the risk. A believe a former administration official opined that one should never let a crisis go to waste. We as an international people need to be less territorial when it comes to protecting what in reality is the patrimony of the planet and not just a single country. When cretins can destroy cultures with impunity maybe we should begin then to see ourselves as more than protectors of our little corner of the planet. It is irrational to believe that a terrorist will stop destroying property because legislation may have impacted markets. I urge you again to subscribe to Newsletter of the Committee for Cultural Policy ( to follow all these changes.

 I am delighted to announce a reciprocal exchange of information with the blog started by Bruno Classens in 2013. "Bruno Claessens (b. 1983) graduated in 2005 as historian. In 2003, through his wife Griet Blomme, herself an ethnography graduate, he first came into contact with African art at the Sablon in Brussels. From 2007 to 2010, he got better acquainted with all aspects of the African art world while being the assistant of Guy van Rijn in Brussels. In Summer 2010, he organized the exhibition “Vlijmscherp” (Razor Sharp) with African weapons from the Ethnographic Collection of the University of Ghent. Between 2010 and 2012, he was archivist of the Yale University-van Rijn Archive of African Art. At present, he works as an independent expert in African art, advisor and curator." Bruno is a knowledgeable scholar in the ethnographic field and has a good sense of what's happening in Europe. Bruno is also very well informed of the ethnographic markets and provides useful insight in his blog to which I encourage you to subscribe.
Just today Bruno has informed us with his latest blog entry that the Fowler has the Jay Last Lega collection online. It was an honor to work with Jay on the appraisal of his collection, which will now be an amazing resource for anyone interested in African art. Thank you to Jay, the Fowler, and everyone else who made this possible.

We have known for some time that China's geopolitical strategic planning was heavily focused on Africa and the mineral assets it could provide. This realization fueled rumors of various African art dealers trying to expand the ethnographic market into China. We learn now from Art Market Monitor that a Chinese partnership has created an African Art Fund. At the moment this effort seems to be focusing on contemporary African art, but will this continue to be the case? We will give you the benefit of our research in this issue.

And finally Don Miller, the 91 year old collector in Indiana who's collection was seized by the FBI has died. It has been a year but still no word from the FBI and still no charges filed against Miller. We will talk about this a bit more and give you ARCA's (Association for Research into Crimes against Art ) thoughts from their blog.

No comments: