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Old 07-03-2007, 04:27 AM
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Merlion Merlion is offline
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Are Degas' sculptures real or reproductions?

This debate about the bronze sculptures of Degas will go on, and on, and on. Perhaps it is the same with Rodin's bronze.

[url=http://www.palmbeachpost.com/localnews/content/local_news/epaper/2007/07/02/0702artfeed.html]Are Degas' sculptures real or reproductions?[/URL]

July 02, 2007, A North Florida gallery owner is making accusations of "fraud" about an upcoming Degas exhibit at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, but museum officials say his objections are "meaningless."

Gary Arseneau, a Jacksonville-area artist and gallery owner, has long had problems with posthumous works ascribed to famous artists. His latest beef is with an exhibition of Degas sculptures that will appear in January at the Boca Raton Museum of Art.

The show will feature 74 sculptures cast in bronze after Degas' death in 1917. Arseneau argues these are mere "reproductions," since the famed French artist never touched the bronzes, or even saw them. To call them "Degas sculptures" is to engage in "fraud," he said.

Museum officials call his charges "meaningless." They say the museum has been completely open about the works' complicated history.

"We never claim that Degas touched these bronzes," said museum curator Wendy Blazier. "This exhibition is about the history of the sculptures, and our understanding of Degas" and his working methods.

The museum's board president, Michael H. Gora, also noted that the bronzes have been accepted as representative of Degas' work in sculpture by institutions ranging from New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, to the federal National Endowment for the Arts, which has underwritten a portion of insurance expenses for the traveling exhibition.

The bronzes' history is well known. The famed Impressionist painter also created sculpture, although he exhibited only one piece in his lifetime. After his death, dozens of small works in various materials were found in his studio. Many depicted his favorite subjects, such as race horses and ballet dancers.

Perhaps with visions of French francs in mind, his heirs had these works cast by a Parisian foundry. Arseneau contends Degas' studio pieces were actually touched up by the foundry to make it possible to cast them in bronze. In turn, other bronzes were later cast from these pieces. He said the result was often "third generation" objects that "belong in a museum's gift shop."
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Old 07-03-2007, 11:47 AM
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GlennT GlennT is offline
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Re: Are Degas' sculptures real or reproductions?

If the are not Degas' sculptures, whose are they?

Perhaps they should be signed, " Degas et al "
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Old 07-03-2007, 07:58 PM
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fritchie fritchie is offline
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Re: Are Degas' sculptures real or reproductions?

I can't speak certainly for motivation in the making of these small bronzes, but they have been well discussed here in New Orleans newspapers for many years, and NOMA has at least two small pieces that regularly rotate into active display. His mother (I believe), was a native New Orleanian, and he made a roughly yearlong visit here, mostly painting.

The museum also has at least one large painting he did here, of a New Orleans cotton exchange brokerage. It may be that an uncle or cousin was part owner. The story usually told here is that the family had the bronzes cast posthumously from plasters in his studio, to settle issues of heirship among both French and American relatives. (Louisiana is almost unique among American states in using a mix of American (English) and French law on inheritance. It is almost impossible to deny blood relatives a claim for inheritance.)
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Old 07-03-2007, 09:25 PM
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Merlion Merlion is offline
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Re: Are Degas' sculptures real or reproductions?

I think the art gallery owner is making an unsubstantiated fuss about this, perhaps to gain some public attention.

I re-quote here the online article I posted.

Museum officials call his charges "meaningless." They say the museum has been completely open about the works' complicated history.

"We never claim that Degas touched these bronzes," said museum curator Wendy Blazier. "This exhibition is about the history of the sculptures, and our understanding of Degas" and his working methods.


To get further clarification, I went into the Museum's website. This is their announcement of the exhibition, taken from this link.

Degas in Bronze: The Complete Sculptures

One of the most important artists of the 19th century, the French painter and sculptor Edgar Degas spent his entire life investing the figure in motion through countless studies of ballerinas, racehorses and bathers. Degas in Bronze offers a rare opportunity to view 74 sculptures, posthumously cast in bronze from Degas' original composite and wax models. Degas in Bronze is organized by Joseph S. Czestochowski, International Arts, Memphis, Tennessee
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Last edited by Merlion : 07-04-2007 at 02:17 AM.
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Old 07-04-2007, 09:54 AM
ironman ironman is offline
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Re: Are Degas' sculptures real or reproductions?

Hi, As far as I know they're all waxes, not plaster. The Clarke Art Institute in Williamstown Mass. has a couple of them and if I'm not mistaken they're the wax originals.
Have a great 4th,
Jeff
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Old 07-04-2007, 02:18 PM
gwarseneau gwarseneau is offline
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Re: Are Degas' sculptures real or reproductions?

FYI

June 26, 2007

George S. Bolge
Director
Boca Raton Museum of Art
501 Plaza Real
Boca Raton, Florida 33432*
561.392.2500*
gbolge@bocamuseum.org

Note: Footnotes are enclosed with { }.

Dear Director:

The Boca Raton Museum of Art’s upcoming January 23 - April 13, 2008 Degas in Bronze, The Complete Sculptures “special exhibition” is a “knowing misrepresentation of the truth or concealment of a material fact to induce another to act to his or her detriment”{1} which one legal definition of -FRAUD-.

The “concealment of a material fact”{2} is that all the objects in this so-called Degas in Bronze, The Complete Sculptures “special exhibition” are actually second to third-generation-removed reproductions which makes them “something that is not what it purports to be”{3} which is one legal definition of -FAKE-.

The “his or her detriment”{4} is the Boca Raton Museum of Art’s “special exhibitions” admission fees of “$20 for adults, $17 for seniors, $15 for groups (15 or more) and $6 for students”{5} not including city-state-federal grants{6}, corporate sponsorship and gift shop sales.

In otherwords, the public is not being fully informed that they will be paying to see an exhibit of non-disclosed -FAKES- that Edgar Degas has never seen himself, much less would have approved{7}.

These allegations are confirmed on the Boca Raton Museum of Art’s own published “SeasonPreviewPR.pdf” file, posted on the museum’s website. In part, it states: “Degas in Bronze offers an extremely rare opportunity to view 74 sculptures, posthumously cast in bronze from Degas' original composite and wax models.”{8}

The problem with this “extremely rare opportunity to view 74 {Edgar Degas} sculptures”{9} is that it conflicts with the museum’s admission they are “posthumous.”{10}. Fortunately, by definition{11}, rule of law{12} and laws of nature, dead men don’t sculpt.

ASSOCIATION OF ART MUSEUM DIRECTORS
This factual perspective is confirmed by the Association of Art Museum Directors endorsed ethical guidelines on sculptural reproductions. In part, these ethical guidelines state: “All bronze casting from finished bronzes, all unauthorized enlargements, and all transfers into new materials, unless specifically condoned by the artist, all works cast as a result of being in the public domain should be considered as inauthentic or counterfeit. Unauthorized casts of works in the public domain cannot be looked upon as accurate presentations of the artist’s achievement. Accordingly, in the absence of relevant laws and for moral reasons, such works should: -- Not be acquired by museums or exhibited as works of art.”{13}

Finally, you wouldn’t even find objects of this stature in a museum gift shop because on page 31 of the AAMD’s published 2001 Professional Practices in Art Museums, under the subtitle “Appendix D, Reproductions of Works of Arts,” it states: “signatures, edition numbers, and/or foundry marks on sculpture must not appear on the reproductions.”{14} All of the non-disclosed -FAKES- in this upcoming exhibition have counterfeit “Degas” signatures, edition letters and foundry marks posthumously applied.

In closing, I have enclosed below, for you and your colleagues’ documentation, an attached PDF copy of my 2006 DEGAS BRONZE FAKES News Release.

Any comment or questions on the enclosed, please contact me.

I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

Gary Arseneau
artist, printmaker of original stone lithographs, gallery owner, scholar & author
P.O. Box 686
Fernandina Beach, Florida 32035
(904) 321-0021
gwarseneau@hotmail.com
gwarseneau@blogspot.com

FOOTNOTES:
1. Seventh Edition of Black’s Law Dictionary, page 670, ISBN 0-314-22864-0

2. Ibid

3. Seventh Edition of Black’s Law Dictionary, page 617, ISBN 0-314-22864-0

4. Seventh Edition of Black’s Law Dictionary, page 670, ISBN 0-314-22864-0

5. SeasonPreviewPR.pdf page 5, http://www.bocamuseum.org/index.php?...anding%20Pages

6. “Earlier this month, Borrow, joined by other museum leaders, made a presentation to the city's Community Redevelopment Agency asking for the funds, plus $150,000 to support two of its marquee exhibits next season, "Degas in Bronze: The Complete Sculptures," and "Tiffany Studios: The Holtzman Collection," an exhibit of glassworks by the famous maker.” Boca Raton Museum of Art asks city for funds, but timing is not on its side article By South Florida Sun-Sentinel Ivette M. Yee, http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/loc...a-news-broward

7. In the National Gallery of Art’s published 1998 Degas at the Races catalogue, on page 180 in Daphne S. Barbour’s and Shelly G. Strum’s “The Horse in Wax and Bronze” essay, these authors write: “Degas never cast his sculpture in bronze, claiming that it was a “tremendous responsibility to leave anything behind in bronze -- the medium is for eternity.” © 1998 National Gallery of Art ISBN 0-300-07517-0

8. SeasonPreviewPR.pdf page 3, http://www.bocamuseum.org/index.php?...anding%20Pages

9. Ibid

10. Ibid

11. On page 372 in Ralph Mayer’s HarperCollins Dictionary of Art Terms & Techniques, the term “sculpture” is defined as: “The creation of three dimensional forms by carving, modeling or assembly. In carving, the sculptor removes unwanted material.... In modeling on the other hand, the sculptor creates a form by building it up...”

12. Under U.S. Copyright Law 101. Definitions, a “work of visual art” ie. “sculpture” is defined as: “multiple cast, carved, or fabricated sculptures of 200 or fewer that are consecutively numbered by the author and bear the signature or other identifying mark of the author.”

13. www.collegeart.org/caa/ethics/sculpture.html “A Statement on Standards for Sculptural Reproduction and Preventive Measures to Combat Unethical Casting in Bronze Approved by the CAA Board of Directors, April 27, 1974. Endorsed by the Association of Art Museum Directors and the Art Dealers Association of America.”

14. Published in 2001 by the Association of Art Museum Directors, 41 East 65th Street, New York 10021 ISBN 1-880974-02-9
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