– Good afternoon, I’m Ian Wardropper, director of The Frick. I’m delighted to welcome you all here. Somebody was saying as we were walking in that if a meteor was
about to strike this room, it would obliterate much of
sculpture studies in the world. I’m a little reluctant to
make that comment today, but it is true that many
of the speakers here are among the most
preeminent in their fields, and I’m delighted to have an audience of people who are also passionately interested about sculpture. Over the 10 years that The Center for the History of Collecting
has been in operation, there’s never been a symposium
devoted to sculpture. I started discussing the possibility of addressing this topic with
Inge Reist several years ago, and began pulling together
ideas for it last summer, but I quickly realized
that we needed someone totally immersed in and up to date in the field of sculpture studies. I thought immediately of Malcolm Baker, and fortuitously, he was gonna begin a brief residence as a scholar at the Bard Graduate Center last September. We invited him to lunch,
and in short order, he though of a conceptual framework, and assembled a list of
prospective speakers, most of whom I’m glad to say
were able to join this program. We’re all grateful to Malcolm
for taking on this role, as well as for agreeing
to be the keynote speaker. Personally, I take great
satisfaction in seeing this symposium happen. I began as an assistant curator in the Department of European
Painting and Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1982. I think I met Malcolm around that time, I think he was still at the VNA then, and struggled to integrate
works on pedestals with works hanging on the walls in renovated galleries in the 1980s, and later, as the head of a department of decorative arts and
sculpture in ancient art, to find its place in new
galleries of decorative arts. Those of us working in
American and European museums have often had to reflect on acquiring and displaying
sculpture in these contexts, as well as the larger question of the history of collecting it. There’ve been conferences
looking at this subject, notably one held by CASVA at the National Gallery of Art in Washington I participated in in 2003. But there’ve been few occasions for an overview of the subject, so I’m grateful to all
of today’s participants for giving us the benefit of
their thinking and experience. My thanks to Inge Reist, Esmeé Quodbach, and Samantha Deutch of the Center for the History of Collecting for their usual impeccable logistical arrangements, and to the Robert H.
Smith Family Foundation, appropriately, as Robert Smith was a great collector
of sculpture himself, for funding this symposium. Inge. (applause) – Thank you so much, Ian. Let me add my warm welcome to all of you, and also my thanks to the
Smith Family Foundation for its generous support
of this symposium. It is actually one that
complements two others that the Center has
organized in past years on collecting Italian
Renaissance paintings, and collecting Italian Baroque art, so it makes a very nice trio. I would also, as always,
like to extend great thanks to Steven Barry, the Andrew
W. Mellon chief librarian at the Frick Art Reference Library, which houses the Center, who so stalwartly supports this and all of the Center’s programs, from its fellowships to the
Book Prize that we offer. And I’d like to thank Samantha Deutch and Esmeé Quodbach too, without whom these events
could never happen, as they so effectively and efficiently ensure that the details of these two days are taken care of to make a memorable and
thought-provoking occasion. Although 10 years of overseeing the programming of the Center has vastly broadened our
knowledge of collecting in many categories of art, as we follow the projects of our fellows, and read books for the
biannual Book Prize, the collecting of sculpture is, as Ian noted, a topic that
we have only landed on now, and that is in part,
to be perfectly honest, because we found it one of
the most difficult to define. So, we always knew we
wanted to address this vast landscape of collecting sculpture, a subject that has drawn
kings and princes to it over the centuries, and
resonates with artists as well, and it’s even been part of
the foundational mission of so many museums in the
United States and Europe. But to shape the program was
something that we really felt was beyond our skillset. So, initially, Ian gave us
some helpful guidelines, as he said, and then offered
the wonderful suggestion that was the key to our success: that we bring Malcolm
Baker into the discussions. So after that lunch that Ian mentioned, and for me, listening to Malcolm and Ian brainstorming in a constructive way, I felt confident that
we could move forward to shape a viable program. So between them, Malcolm and Ian know everyone in the field, which made my job easy and resulted in the exceptionally distinguished international roster of speakers that we will hear from today and tomorrow, as they address aspects of
sculpture collecting and display that range from the
Wunderkammern of the Renaissance, to garden sculpture in
France, Germany, and England, to sculpture galleries, and finally, to the challenges of acquiring and situating sculpture in public museums. And lastly, we will have
a great treat in store at the close of our proceedings tomorrow, when Ian engages in conversation with writer, critic, and
sculpture collector James Fenton.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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