Magda Salvesen and Diane Cousineau (eds). New Brunswick, New Jersey, and London: Rutgers University Press, 2005
Magda Salvesen, who lives in New York, is the widow of the Expressionist painter Jon Schueler. When he died in 1992, it took her some time to accept that her role had been redefined by fate. Fully engaged in her own academic career as an art and garden historian, Magda realised that she had to become the primary 'curator' of Jon's work outside museums, and she has skillfully balanced both roles. In Artists' Estates, Magda and her Co-Editor, Diane Cousineau, with great dedication and objectivity, have opted to present a whole range of artists' estates for consideration rather than focusing on the specifics of Jon Schueler's example.
Magda Salvesen relates how meeting Betsy Zogbaum at the 1995 Franz Kline show at the Whitney Museum of American Art acted as a catalyst for her project. Betsy's vivid, though somewhat confused, recollections of her intimate relationship with Kline made her aware of how important it was to tape such narratives before it was too late. From artists' companions and widows, gradually, her scope spread to the children of deceased artists, and then to dealers and other art professionals.
The book records various routes that artists and their legatees pursue as they try to organise their estates. It reveals the intricate ways in which dealers such as Leo Castelli (who had been Schueler's dealer at a crucial stage) promote their artists. The description of the inner workings involved in the forging of Barnett Newman's legacy and Robert Motherwell's refusal to grant his widow, Renate Ponsold, a role in the managing of his estate, are sobering. Fairfield Porter's widow, Anne, emerges as a thoroughly generous figure, despite being obliged to pay far more tax than seems just.
The text leads on the tribulations of the Rothko estate through the interview with the artist's children, Kate and Christopher. It also highlights the remarkable achievement of Jeffrey Bergen in safeguarding and raising the value of the Romare Bearden estate, while simultaneously fulfilling the artist's broader, philanthropic intentions of increasing American awareness of Negro art.
This is indeed a remarkable work (one is tempted to say a labour of love) in which a scholarly objectivity has been continually sustained while presenting this world of saints and sinners. The book has been assiduously researched, and Salvesen has been ingenious at steering a path through the potential legal minefield that such a subject entails.
Whether in the United States or Europe, amazingly little has been written to assist the whole class of artists' beneficiaries. Most artists remain innocent of the inherent risks involved in failing to itemise their work for posterity. There is virtually nothing in print in Britain on such matters. The situation is changing, however, with the increased value of art itself. But maybe not fast enough. This work by Magda Salvesen and Diane Cousineau points the way, providing a model of perfect form for future contributors.
Pierre Soulages did not begin with giant monochromes, but with smaller works, in which the play of intersecting black brushstrokes over white or yellow grounds yielded a look approaching oriental calligraphy (and in the past resulted in rather superficial comparisons with Franz Kline).
Book review: Photo Art: The New World of Photography
This work, which originated with the Cologne publisher DuMont Buchverlag in 2007, is an invaluable aid to historians of contemporary art and photography. Some 120 international artists who have helped to define the parameters of photography are included, backed up on average with four pages each of high-resolution reproduction. One might, as many will, question the selection, but this is an inevitable response in a field where every enthusiast has his or her own choices.
The stance of Barnett Newman
For me and many others, Barnett Newman establishes a prickly active presence of that something which has to do with the essence of being an artist and a human being. His standards of excellence and integrity for himself and everyone else are so awesomely wide-ranging that little has been written on him and that has been inadequate and fragmentary.1 No wonder, for the scope of his stance is such that no simplistic verbal categories fit: known primarily as a painter, he also expresses himself in sculpture, writing and even architecture; his interests, arguments and concerns range through philosophy, mythology, anthropology, ornithology, palaeontology, religion, politics, music – as well as the history of art, criticism, aesthetics and linguistics.
The Arthur M Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC
The Arthur M Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution will open to the public on 28th September, 1987. This is only one of many American institutions - primarily museums and university medical research facilities - that have been supported by Dr Sackler
Barnett Newman by Don Judd, Studio International 1970
The painter cannot remove himself from the currents of time, nor can he pretend that time, 'that fluid mass, that moving, mysterious, grand and powerful ocean' (Eugene Minkowski) does not pull him irresistibly forward