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2016-09-29 - James Beck Memorial Lecture - Art Students League New York
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Recap: 2016 James Beck Memorial Lecture

2016-09-29 - James Beck Memorial Lecture - Art Students League New York

The Art Students League on W. 57th St. in Manhattan

This year’s 8th annual James beck Memorial Lecture was hosted last Thursday evening at The Art Students League of New York in midtown. Alternating between London and New York, ArtWatch holds this event each year to honor memory, scholarly efforts, and unwavering commitment to artistic stewardship of its founder, Professor James Beck. Since Beck’s passing in 2007, the lectures have been organized to continue Beck’s campaigning on the arts’ behalf, as well as to provide a platform for lectures by distinguished scholars, to commemorate his own contributions.

2016-09-29 - James Beck Memorial Lecture - Ottavino Stone

Old Ottavino Office Courtesy: A. Ottavino Corporation

Another remarkable force in the art world, and supporter of Beck’s efforts, New York painter Frank Mason, is also honored at the Beck Memorial Lectures. The Frank Mason Prize is awarded each year to an individual who has contributed to a courageous effort to benefit art scholarship and research. Frank’s dedication to traditionalist artistic training, his long teaching career at the Art Students League in New York, and protests against harmful restorations at the Metropolitan Museum leave behind a strong legacy. He was also instrumental in the founding of a precursor to ArtWatch International, The International Society for the Preservation of Art. This year’s recipient, Kate Ottavino, has expressed similar dedication in her work for A. Ottavino Corporation (founded 1913) as Director of Preservation.

2016-09-29 - James Beck Memorial Lecture - St. Paul's Chapel Manhattan

St Paul’s in NYC. Courtesy: AP Photo / Seth Wenig.

Kate has been practicing conservation for over 30 years, and since 1994 has overseen restoration work on many buildings and monuments throughout the country and has presented at several conferences, taught courses, and is extensively published. Her award-winning work on New York City landmarks can be see at Bethesda Terrace in Central Park, St. Paul’s Chapel, the Cooper Hewitt, New-York Historical Society, the Dakota Apartments, and Grace Church, among others. Kate has also made a point of pursuing educational initiatives at the Williamsburg High School of Architecture and Design and the Bronx International High School in order to benefit future generations of conservators, and advocates for landmarks as a board member of The Merchant’s House Museum and Historic Districts Council.

The art and life of Polish-born sculptor Andrew Pitynski was the topic of our 8th annual Lecture. The Art Students League of New York proved an apt setting for both the subject and the event, as the ASL has, since 1875, welcomed innovative artistic education and craftsmanship when the National Academy was unyielding to new artistic ideas.

2016-09-29 - James Beck Memorial Lecture - Don Reynolds

Dr. Donald Martin Reynolds. Art historian and Founder of the Monuments Conservancy (NY)

Speaker, art historian, and founder of the Monuments Conservancy, Dr. Donald Martin Reynolds, also took classes at the League. He shared from his extensive study of the life and work of Andrew Pitynski,  bringing to our attention the great impact of art that embraces both personal and collective struggle. Pitynski’s works employ his own heritage and the tragedies experienced by his Polish brothers to connect with the viewer’s experience; his sculpture recognizes that there is a universal striving towards freedom that can cut across boundaries of culture and time.

 

2016-09-29 - James Beck Memorial Lecture - Andrew Pitynski Horse

Horse, ink sketch, Artist’s Collection, 2012.

Pitynski’s talent as an artist and sculptor developed in Poland, where his avant-garde teachers encouraged him in the pursuit of truth and morality in his work. For Pitynski, that meant pulling inspiration from the constant battle for freedom that his ancestors and family members fought against the waves of war and Communism in his homeland.

 

The exposure during his youth to the bravery and courage of his loved ones and the local Partisan group they aligned with became entwined with Andrew’s art. From his rough-hewn bronzes of galloping warriors, to the larger than life plaster sculptures of solemn soldiers honoring the sacrifices of others, the value of human liberty is made manifest.

 

 

2016-09-29 - James Beck Memorial Lecture - Andrew Pitynski Sarmata bronze

Pitynski’s Sarmata, bronze and granite, 1980.

2016-09-29 - James Beck Memorial Lecture - Sarmata Spirit of Freedom Seward Johnson Grounds for Sculpture Hamilton NJ.

Sarmata – Spirit of Freedom at Seward Johnson’s Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ, 2001.

Pulling from his Polish heritage, many of Andrew’s most powerful sculptures have one major common thread – the stoic warrior spirit of the ancient Sarmatians, from whose civilization, according to 15th and 16th century historians, the Poles descended. The Sarmatians themselves, according to ancient Greek historian Herodotus, were descendents of the Scythians and Amazons, and thus contemporary Polish legend embraced all the virtues of strength, independence, and bravery supposed of their distant ancestors. These characteristics can be seen, for instance, in his monumental Partisan I and Partisan II on the Boston Common and New Jersey “Grounds for Sculpture”, respectively.

2016-09-29 - James Beck Memorial Lecture -Partisan I Boston Common.

Partisan I, cast in aluminum, on the Boston Common, 1983.

 

Here are featured a series of marching hussars, or mounted soldiers that served as Poland’s highly regarded and magnificently feared assault cavalry in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Sarmatian spirit is evident in his larger-than-life Patriot, demonstrating the dynamic heroicism in a winged and wounded hussar, standing with sword unsheathed.

2016-09-29 - James Beck Memorial Lecture -Andrew Pitynski Patriot Poland.

Pitynski’s Patriot in Stalowa Wola, Poland, 2011.

 

2016-09-29 - James Beck Memorial Lecture -Andrew Pitynski Avenger Doylestown.

Pitynski in his studio carving plaster of Avenger for Polish cemetery in Doylestown, PA, 1986.

2016-09-29 - James Beck Memorial Lecture -Katyn WWII Jersey City Twin Towers.

Katyn, 1940, honoring the WWII massacre of Polish nationals by Soviets, installed in Jersey City, 1990. Shown here in early 2001.

Following the tragedy that hit New York and the rest of the U.S. on September 11th, Pitynski integrated a new memorial bronze, Sorrowful Liberty, onto his 18 ft high Katyn memorial that honored the deaths of those who had been massacred by the Soviets in 1940.  Throughout Pitynski’s artistic career, as Dr. Reynolds’ lecture demonstrated, he has sought the intersection of historic memory and honoring current loss. His sculptures, reliefs, and drawings exhibit an unmistakable commitment to searching for, as his master Jerzy Bandura put it, the “only valuable truth”.

2016-09-29 - James Beck Memorial Lecture -Sorrowful Liberty bronze.

Sorrowful Liberty, bronze relief installed on the Katyn Memorial, 2005.

 

 

2016-08-15 - James Beck 2003

ArtWatch International Presents the 2016 James Beck Memorial Lecture and Reception

 

2016-08-15 - James Beck Memorial Lecture Pitynski

ArtWatch International, Inc. is pleased to announce our seventh annual James Beck Memorial Lecture. Each year ArtWatch holds an annual James Beck Memorial Lecture and reception to commemorate the scholarly career and the principled stand of its founder, Professor James Beck. The lectures, organized by Michael Daley, the director of ArtWatch UK, provide a platform for distinguished art world speakers in our New York and London campaigning centers.

The 2016 James Beck Memorial Lecture and Reception, N.Y.

Speaker:

Dr. Donald Martin Reynolds

Art Historian and Founder of the Monuments Conservancy in New York

Title:

“For Our Freedom and Yours”: The Art and Life of Andrew Pitynski, Portrait of an American Master.

Date:  

Thursday, September 22nd, 6pm-8pm (with reception)

Venue:

The Art Students League, 215 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019

RSVP: ArtWatchNYC@gmail.com OR follow this link to the ASL website

On the lecture:

In keeping with the humanistic tradition of such Renaissance masters as Donatello, Leonardo, and Verocchio, Polish sculptor Andrew Pitynski highlights outstanding figures of Poland’s past through to the 20th century “Partisan” movement, in which his family was active. Through Reynolds’ extensive research into the Pitynski family archives and personal interviews with the artist, this lecture will examine the breadth of this sculptor’s charcoal drawings, photographs, and his monumental finished works. Not only is Pitynski’s art rooted in a love for his Slavic heritage, family history, and Polish homeland, but it reaches out to touch upon the universal struggle for freedom and human rights.

2014-11-17 - James Beck Memorial Lecture Salmagundi Club
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Recap: ArtWatch International’s Sixth Annual James Beck Memorial Lecture

Ruth Osborne

2014-11-17 - King Midas Tomb inlaid table

Inlaid Table from Tumulus MM in situ, 1957.

Last Thursday, November 6th, ArtWatch International hosted the sixth annual James Beck Memorial Lecture and Reception in New York at the historic Salmagundi Club on lower Fifth Avenue.

Alternating between London and New York, ArtWatch holds this event each year to honor memory, scholarly efforts, and unwavering commitment to artistic stewardship of its founder, Professor James Beck. Since Beck’s death in 2007, the lectures have been organized to continue Beck’s campaigning on the arts’ behalf, as well as to provide a platform for lectures by distinguished scholars, to commemorate his own contributions.

 

2014-11-17 - Michael Daley ArtWatch UK

Michael Daley, Director of ArtWatch UK.

Another remarkable force in the art world, and supporter of Beck’s efforts, New York painter Frank Mason, is also honored at the Beck Memorial Lectures. The Frank Mason Prize is awarded each year to an individual who has contributed to a courageous effort to benefit art scholarship and research. Frank’s dedication to traditionalist artistic training, his long teaching career at the Art Students League in New York, and protests against harmful restorations at the Metropolitan Museum leave behind a strong legacy. He was also instrumental in the founding of a precurser to ArtWatch International, The International Society for the Preservation of Art. This year’s recipient, Dr. Martin Eidelberg, has expressed similar dedication to traditionalist methods of studying art in his work on the eighteenth-century French painter Jean-Antoine Watteau.

2014-11-17 - Martin Eidelberg

Dr. Martin Eidelberg

Since his professorship at Rutgers University, Dr. Eidelberg has been instrumental in making his extensive scholarship on Watteau and his circle available online. This year, his work on the “Watteau Abecedario” project, an online alphabetical catalogue raisonné will offer online audiences a comprehensive study of his oeuvre and will also address past and current issues of attribution, and in so doing present art history research as an ongoing, organic process. He says of his project that:

 

2014-11-17 - Francois Boucher Antoine Watteau

Francois Boucher, Portrait of Antoine Watteau, 1727. Courtesy: FAMSF.

Having the Abecedario available online is much more universal. A show is only on a certain period of time. And my experience is that it mostly goes to three cities, for three months at each city, and then it’s gone. And these days, it’s getting harder and harder to follow a show. The online catalogue raisonné is a way in which art gets distributed not only free of charge, but conveniently. So in part it’s good will. In part, it actually is a very useful tool.

The internet itself is a great tool. Because it really is a way of spreading knowledge and keying in. Now places like the Getty have digitized them and have finding aids. Which means you can just press a few buttons, and you can get every painting by Watteau or Boucher or Fragonard sold between 1680 and 1820. It’s brilliant.

Some people are going to say you’ve taken the human quality out of the humanities but that’s not true because then comes interpretation and it just means you don’t have to do so much other work sifting through the mass of data.

**Be on the lookout in the coming weeks for our full interview with Dr. Eidelberg on his project.

2014-11-17 - Martin Eidelberg ArtWatch International

Dr. Eidelberg with Ruth Osborne, Director of ArtWatch International.

2014-11-17 - Elizabeth Simpson Salmagundi Club

Dr. Elizabeth Simpson

This year’s lecture also enjoyed a most captivating speaker whose lecture focused on the necessity of engaging, and sustaining, a  dialogue on art’s behalf. Dr. Elizabeth Simpson, professor of ancient art, archaeology, and museology at the Bard Graduate Center, presented on the excavation and conservation of ancient wooden furniture from King Midas’s Tomb in present-day Turkey.

 

Since the excavation of royal Phrygian Tumulus MM[1] in Gordion, Turkey in 1957, the story of King Midas’s inlaid wooden furniture has taken several twists and turns. From it, we can learn a great deal about conservation pros and cons, the impact of underdeveloped preservation methods, and the importance of paying close attention to the materials used for storage and display.

2014-11-17 - Rodney Young archeologist Gordion Midas Mound

Rodney Young and colleagues outside Tumulus MM, Gordion, 1957.

When the tumulus was first opened by Prof. Rodney Young and archeologists from the University of Pennsylvania Museum, the already-damaged furniture was further harmed by excavation methods and initial attempts at preservation. At this time, there had not been sufficient research or experience in the field of archeological wood conservation, and the furniture suffered. But come the early 1980s, Dr. Simpson had the opportunity to lead a team of conservators in Ankara to correct some of the early mistakes made under Young. Using improved methods and materials, they succeeded in returning the furniture to a more stable condition, even restoring some of the contrast of the wood inlay. The techniques used on this project would set new standards for conservation in the field of dry archeological wood.

 

2014-11-17 - Midas Mount inlaid table Ankara Museum

Inlaid table as displayed at Museum at Ankara, 1983.

The display of the newly conserved Midas furniture at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, Turkey also went through some trial and error. The first glass cases contained materials that damaged the furniture while on display, and had to be replaced in the 1990s.  We then learned that, despite the great improvements made by Dr. Simpson and her group, which were able to be sustained through years of careful scrutiny, recent changes at the museum have discarded the improved and safer display cases for new ones that put the furniture in danger of harm yet again. The story is not yet over, and it serves as a prime example that one’s work on behalf of art is never truly finished.

 

We want to thank Dr. Simpson for sharing with us her piece of the story of King Midas’s furniture, which stimulated a brilliant discussion on the development of conservation practices afterwards. Another warm thank you to Michael Daley, Director of ArtWatch UK, who was able to join us for this year’s lecture. He opened our event with a wonderful speech on the beginnings of ArtWatch and the work of James Beck and Frank Mason. As one who has had the privilege of working closely with Beck for several years, Michael puts forth a sincerity about his work with ArtWatch that is contagious. We here in New York are indebted to his investment in the organization and his work on the behalf of art, and are greatly looking forward to next year’s lecture in London.

 

[1] Tumulus MM was named as such for “Midas Mound.”

2014-10-02 - James Beck Memorial Lecture

ArtWatch International Presents the 2014 James Beck Memorial Lecture and Reception

2014-10-02 - James Beck Memorial Lecture

ArtWatch International, Inc. is pleased to announce our fifth annual James Beck Memorial Lecture. Each year ArtWatch holds an annual James Beck Memorial Lecture and reception to commemorate the scholarly career and the principled stand of its founder, Professor James Beck. The lectures, organized by Michael Daley, the director of ArtWatch UK, provide a platform for distinguished art world speakers in our New York and London campaigning centers.

The 2014 James Beck Memorial Lecture and Reception, N.Y.

Speaker:

Elizabeth Simpson, Professor of Greek, Roman, Ancient Near Eastern, and Egyptian Art and Archaeology, Bard Graduate Center

Title:

“Kind Midas’s Furniture: A Tale of Archaeological Conservation”

Date:  

6pm-8pm (with reception), November 6th

Venue:

The Salmagundi Club, 47 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003

RSVP: ArtWatchNYC@gmail.com

2013-04-27 - Mystical Nativity Sandro Botticelli National Gallery London
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Recap: ArtWatch International’s Fourth Annual James Beck Memorial Lecture

Ruth Osborne
2013-04-27 - Mystical Nativity Sandro Botticelli National Gallery London

The focus of Professor Freedberg’s lecture was The Mystical Nativity (ca 1500–1501) by the Italian Renaissance master Sandro Botticelli, in the National Gallery in London.

This past Wednesday, April 24th, ArtWatch was proud to present the fourth annual James Beck Memorial Lecture.

Each year ArtWatch holds this event to commemorate the scholarly career and the principled stand of its founder, Professor James Beck. The lectures, organized by Michael Daley, the director of ArtWatch UK, provide a platform for distinguished art world speakers in our New York and London campaigning centers.

Those who were able to attend heard both the lecture by David Freedberg, entitled “Morality and Movement in Renaissance Art” and the speech by Don Reynolds, delivered upon receipt of the 2012 Frank Mason Prize.

Michael Daley of ArtWatch UK, writes of the connection between Beck and the teatro at the Italian Academy: “It was in this hall on Sept 19th 2007 that Columbia University Art History Department conducted a memorial service in honour of Professor James Beck, who had died on May 26th that year,” and goes on to say that, “We in ArtWatch International decided that there were two ways of best honouring his memory and his campaigning. The first was quite simply by continuing to campaign as an organisation against those who (for whatever motives) injure art. . . The second step that we took to honor James Beck was the inauguration of these annual lectures by scholars of distinction on topics of their choice in recognition of his own contributions.”

Within this tradition, David Freedberg, Pierre Matisse Professor of the History of Art in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University, and Director of The Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America, delivered a compelling lecture on the topic of movement in Renaissance art – its implications for both art and cultural historians cannot be overstated. His talk was extremely rich in analytical and contextual insights. As one audience member put it: “Freedberg didn’t play it down for anyone. Everyone was treated as though they were his scholarly equals.” In this way, we were provided with a rare experience, one that left us with much to process and consider in the days to come.

The Frank Mason Prize, awarded at the beginning of the evening, was also a momentous occasion. Of Frank Mason, Jim Beck’s esteemed colleague, Michael Daley states that he had “led marches of protesting students and artists from the New York Art Students League to the Metropolitan Museum of Art against the picture restorations therein. Frank had helped found a small international organisation to fight on behalf of the world’s artistic patrimony and was one the first campaigners against the Sistine Chapel restorations which began in 1980. When Frank died on June 16, 2009, ArtWatch International decided to honour his formative role in our campaigns with a modest annual prize to others who were making a contribution to protecting art.”

Professor James Beck, founder of ArtWatch.

Professor James Beck, founder of ArtWatch.

Donald Martin Reynolds, PhD, to whom we awarded the 2012 prize for his groundbreaking 1984 book “The architecture of New York City” and for his symposium series in honor of the renowned art historian Rudolf Wittkower, now in its 23rd year, delivered what was certainly one of the most eloquent, heartfelt speeches in honor of James Beck. It is hard to imagine a more kind and sincere tribute to the memory of our late founder.

We also wanted to pass along our appreciation for the wonderful staff of the Italian Academy for their guidance and assistance in the weeks prior to the event and on the night of. We hope to have future opportunities to collaborate with this highly professional and dedicated institution.

If you were unable to attend, or if you desire to have a record of the evening, we will be publishing transcripts of the talks in our next journal publication, and we hope to also have a recording of the lecture available for our website.

Lastly, ArtWatch International extends its sincere gratitude to our speakers and guests for making this one of our most successful events in recent years. We hope to see you again soon.