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Lesson Plans

Re:how museums make art history -who carries the weight?

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Betty Bowen (
Wed, 10 Feb 1999 09:49:24 -0600

Like any profession, there are generally held views in art history, but
those are a moving target, filtered through the fashionable thinking of the
time and the cultural baggage the curator/writer brings to the project.

An example of how Art History can be made - (Judy will know what I'm talking
about!)There was a "blockbuster" exhibit here in OK last year that was based
on (to me) pretty shaky ground - a possible link between two famous
landscape painters. One painter is heavily represented in a local collection
but didn't draw crowds and the other a major international crowd-pleaser
with an exhibit available for tour - not likely coming to Oklahoma.

One local museum had collection #1, another was having trouble paying for
their new elaborate building addition. The two museums got together and were
able to "land" artist #2 because they were able to present an "influence"
theory to artist #1. A real coup! Promoted the heck out of it - it even
made the cover of the city phone book for the year. Whether or not there
really was a significant link of influence faded in importance next to the
ticket sales, but now the public here "accepts" that there was, with the
added bonus of the local collection appearing a little more important
because of the new perception of the artist's association with painter #2.