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February 01, 2006

MAO Road Trip - Wadsworth Antheneum Museum In Hartford, CT

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MAO Weekend Sunday road trip to Hartford, CT. Destination The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.

So Dr. Quiz, our friend Dutch aka.. The Duchess, Whitey our Jeep 4x4, and I went for the 90 min trek to see a museum in the hinterlands! Like there could ever be decent art west of 11th ave 12th Ave, Manhattan!  Mostly I really wanted to see the Kota Ezawa show, but hey.. we had nothing else better to do.. and Dr. Quiz knew if he didn't go with us, Dutch and I would get into trouble.   Plus even after 11 years of our LTR, Dr. Quiz still doesn't trust me with Whitey.. Can you say controlling?  He sites some crazy excuse of I not having a drivers license anymore (long tragic story.. to be told most appropriately over beers at another time) License?? Who needs a license..?? like we don't have a marriage license either!! But I digress..

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Anyway..Much to our surprise the Wadsworth is awesome!  Our first stop was to see the 2 installed project works of Kota Ezawa in their Matrix Galleries. They were very cool. I loved "The Unbearable Lightness of Being, 2005" 16mm film projection. It's kind of a South Park/Julien Opie meets 1960 photo-journalism.  The work is very original, but yet in several ways comments on our human ability to retain mental images of historic events, in a similar way that only the amazing work of Vik Muniz manages to do.  Mr. Ezawa simplifies these video images down to their most very basic shapes and colors, but yet your mind immediately knows the referenced images.
       It's the same for his slide projection project, "The History of Photography Remix, 2005" (Ezawa, After Struth, Pic #3) These works make the viewer realize how much useless art imagery "Visual History" you have stored in the back of your mind. These pictures are all completely familiar photographic icons, and yet you are also seeing these images in a completely new way. I loved the work.. and could have watched it for another hour.

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They also had a wonderful Auguste Rodin exhibition which had just opened.  Featuring about 80 of his most notable Bronze works... There are many works from his first big commission, "The Gates of Hell" (The Thinker, The Three Shades, The Falling Man, & The Kiss),  Plus Bronzes from The Burghers of Calais, as well as several Balzac works. They also have several early Busts, and my favorite Rodin work.. Rodin_cathedral The Cathedral (picture #4), along with a few other great hand sculptures.  Actually it was the most comprehensive Rodin show I've ever seen outside of France.  I think this show may even have pulled together more works than whats at the Rodin Museum in Philly.

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Lastly, the Wadsworth is also the home of a surprisingly strong 18th and early 19th century portrait collection, but I was most impressed with their Hudson River School Collection. A total WOW ! Certainly more works (over 65) that you can see in the big museums of Manhattan (But the NY Historical Society has an impressive collection , and their "Nature and the American Vision" Hudson River show runs through Feb 19th). Actually seeing these amazing works, made we aware of how lacking some of the NYC museums are when it comes to The Hudson School Artists.  Here's how they describe their collection:

The core of the Museum's renowned Hudson River School collection (the finest of its kind) was formed by two major patrons of American artists who lived in Hartford—Daniel Wadsworth (1771-1848), a picaresque traveler, amateur artist and architect, and founder of the Wadsworth Atheneum; and Elizabeth Hart Jarvis Colt (1826-1905), widow of arms manufacturer Samuel Colt and the creator of a major private picture gallery during the Civil War Era. Wadsworth became one of the most important patrons of Thomas Cole, from whom he commissioned and acquired seven paintings; he later discovered and launched the career of the young Hartford artist Frederic Church. Wadsworth's private art collection formed the core of the Museum's American painting holdings. Later in the century, Elizabeth Colt worked with Frederic Church to form one of the finest private picture galleries in the country including works by Church, Albert Bierstadt, Sanford Gifford, and John Kensett. The collection of over 65 Hudson River landscapes includes thirteen Coles, eleven Churches, and five Bierstadts.

They also, have a small but nice collection of impressionist works (Photo #5). 

Overall pretty impressive for an art hinterland museum!!!  The Wadsworth Who, Hartford Where?  It was a great time, even though I wasn't allowed to doing the driving! But the best part.. The Wadsworth only charged $10 to get in!!  Worth every penny!  WooooHooo!

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Actually hartford is east of twelth avenue.

Wow.. Rocco.. you're alive!!
Glad to hear from you.. Hope you're feeling better.
And Happy Anniversary to you and Opi!

Shit! You're right!!!
And it's damn scary getting corrected by you when it comes to geography!! Where's Red Square again???

Note: Footnotes are enclosed with { }.

Unfortunately, all the so-called “sculptures by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) {1},” in the Rodin: A Magnificent Obsession, Sculpture from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation exhibition opening January 28, 2006 at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, are, actually at best, non-disclosed reproductions not sculptures as misleadingly promoted with fifty-four of these non-disclosed reproductions being outright fakes.

Fifty-two of those 54 non-disclosed fakes, attributed as Auguste Rodin sculptures, were posthumously reproduced between 1955 and 1995 with counterfeit “A. Rodin” signatures posthumously applied. Auguste Rodin died in 1917 and dead artists don’t create sculpture, much less sign it.

In otherwords, by definition, rule of law and laws of nature, a reproduction: 1) cannot be a sculpture, 2) cannot be attributed to a living artist, much less a dead one and 3) cannot be misrepresent as a sculpture without becoming “something that is not what it purports to be{2}” which is one legal definition of fake.

Additionally, when those non-disclosed reproductions and fakes are misrepresented as sculptures by a cultural institution ie. museum and its’ principals for money, such as the price of admission, city-state-federal grants, corporate sponsorship and other monetary considerations, then “a knowing misrepresentation of the truth or concealment of a material fact to induce another to act to his or her detriment{3}” may come into play which is one legal definition of fraud.

A prime example is the so-called Auguste Rodin “Monumental Head of Pierre de Wiessant” in this exhibit. It is non-disclosed fake reproduced sometime after 1969 with a counterfeit “A Rodin” signature posthumously applied.

How can this one example be proven?

The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation’s “Monumental Head of Pierre de Wiessant” is promoted on their www.cantorfoundation.org/Rodin/Gallery/rvg35.html website with the following date: “c. 1884-85, enlarged 1909, date of cast unknown.” Additionally, on page 179 in the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation’s published 2001 Rodin, A Magnificent Obsession catalogue, this same object is listed as cast by the “Godard” foundry and “signed A. Rodin.” The only problem is the Godard foundry began working with the Musee Rodin in 1969, some fiftytwo years after Auguste Rodin’s death in 1917. This fact is expansively documented further on page 7 of this Press Release in Chapter 1 titled: “TRUE CHRONOLOGY OF THE COLLECTION.”

In conclusion, this Press Release will document a true chronology of these sixty-three non-disclosed reproductions and/or fakes, the violation of Auguste Rodin’s 1916 Will that gave to the State of France the “reproduction rights of the objects given by him” and other serious contentious issues of authenticity surrounding the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation’s Rodin: A Magnificent Obsession traveling road show.

Gary Arseneau artist, printmaker of original lithographs, independent scholar and author

FOOTNOTES: 1. www.wadsworthatheneum.org/view/exhibition-specific.php?id=925 2. On page 617 of the Seventh Edition of Black’s Law Dictionary, “fake” is defined as: “Something that is not what it purports to be.” ISBN 0-314-22864 Copyright © 1999 by West Group 3. On page 670 of the Seventh Edition of Black’s Law Dictionary, “fraud” is defined as: “A knowing misrepresentation of the truth or concealment of a material fact to induce another to act to his or her detriment.”

Hey Gary,
Thanks for the comment. I agree with you.
When I was touring the Wadsworth Rodin show I couldn't help but think.. these were all posthumously made works. Which certianly takes some of the awe out of the show. But The works are all amazing, and I still learned alot about Rodin's work..even if they are all reproductions!

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