ArtWatch International is a non-profit 501(c)3 incorporated in the state of New York in 1992 as an international advocate for the voice of art in the conservation and stewardship of historically significant works. It was founded by Columbia University art historian Professor James Beck to serve as a watchdog organization in the arena of cultural policy, protecting works of art and the public interest from vested private and institutional interests. We operate on a project by project basis, establishing task forces to determine the levels and methods of engagement in specific conservation, restoration and cultural policy issues and problems. Some problems have been addressed through scholarly work and publications, other through advisory and consulting arrangements, still others by symposia, debate, lecture forums, and intensive work with the media.
For more from our partner organization, ArtWatch UK, click here:
The Words of Conservation: Manet, Pastiche, and Authenticity at the Guggenheim
By Ruth Osborne Typically, when high-dollar conservation efforts are promoted in the news, it is said that they have effectively enhanced the clarity of the work to the artist’s most authentic original intention. In fact, most of the language promoting months- and years-long treatments of major works in the art historical canon aims to convince […]
Deaccession Misperceptions: Check the Facts before Critiquing the Professionals
Ruth Osborne It seems there needs to be a re-education on the dangers of rush and/or mass deaccessions at museums and the ways they strongly point to collection mismanagement. A recent article on artsy.net, a site established not 10 years ago mainly for private art galleries, fairs, and sales, and with an emphasis on contemporary […]
Berkshire Museum Art Goes to Auction
Ruth Osborne After we’d covered in detail the case of the Berkshire Museum deaccession crisis and court case, it only seemed fitting that we saw their 40 works of art off yesterday and today at auction at Sotheby’s in New York. According to reports over the past year, the Museum needs about $2 mil for […]
What is a Library without its Books? The Battle to Save the UT Austin Fine Arts Library.
By Ruth Osborne What happens when a university dean’s initiatives are not in line with those of the faculty and students who actually make up his college? What happens when three departments are pitted against a new one for vital space and resources? What recourse might students and staff have when their educational necessities are […]
Holding the Public’s Interest: The Show of Art Conservation
Ruth Osborne We reported a few years ago on the well-publicized (and well-sponsored) treatment of large canvases by Jackson Pollock from the MoMA (NYC) and Seattle Art Museum collections. These were Pollock’s One: Number 31, 1950, and his Sea Change (1947), respectively. In the case of the SAM restoration, it was asserted this work was in “danger of […]
Who Gets the Conservation Dollars??
Ruth Osborne The Bank of America Conservation funding program has been lauded for providing large numbers of museums around the world with grant money to restore works in their collections. This program has been going on since 2010 (see here for our earlier background article). While no numbers or even estimates of these funds is […]
Another Loss for Arts Stewardship: La Salle’s Sale
Ruth Osborne The art world seems to be laughing (or crying?) at yet another museum’s plan to sell a large chunk of important masterworks from its collection in order to add to their endowment to benefit something other than its art. La Salle University, founded 1863 in Philadelphia, has had a museum on its campus since […]
Museums & the Public Interest: More Questions for the Berkshire Museum
Ruth Osborne An opinion piece appeared earlier this month by an economist at George Mason University (D.C.) that emphasized the right of the Berkshire Museum Board to make the decision to sell art and shift its focus to “new areas where they can be strong and discard some older activities”. He compares the Museum Board […]
Fragonard’s Layers & the Promotion of Conservation Treatments
Ruth Osborne X-Rays. Lasers. Multi-Spectral Imaging. We’ve posted on these before: how newly developed technologies like the Er:YAG laser are promoted with such “promising” results, despite persisting doubts from other conservation professionals as well as publications on the risks of its application. At ArtWatch UK, past coverage has highlighted the business interests involved in conservation […]
Museum Mismanagement On Trial: The Berkshire Museum Taken to Court.
Ruth Osborne Thomas Wilmer Dewing, The White Dress, 1901. Courtesy: Berkshire Fine Arts. The story of the Berkshire Museum’s massive deaccession sale and change of mission over the past 5 months has been one that mirrors a rapidly tottering see-saw. We reported a few months back on the Berkshire Museum’s planned sale of 40 […]