ArtWatch International’s Annual Fall Meeting in New York

Dear ArtWatcher,

Throughout the past year, ArtWatch International has been deeply engaged in a battle with the
Galleria Accademia and the Soprintendente of Arts in Florence in an attempt to halt the cleaning of Michelangelo’s David, conducted to coincide with the 500th anniversary of the statue’s placement on the Piazza della Signoria in April 1504. Since the resignation of Agnese Parronchi, the restorer initially hired to carry out the work, a worldwide fervor has erupted. At our urging, fifty art historians and Renaissance specialists, including the world’s most renowned Michelangelo experts, have signed a letter addressed to the Italy’s Minister of Culture. We requested that before any work was initiated an independent committee be formed to evaluate the methodologies available and to determine if, as we believe, no intervention is necessary at all. Although Italian officials have not yet responded to our concerns, the world’s press, favorable to ArtWatch and our stance, has provided extensive coverage of the issue, and attention remains focused on the David, even as his cleaning is beginning in Florence.

I am happy to announce that the documentary film on ArtWatch, directed by James Martin, is finished and is ready for worldwide distribution. It will be first screened at the New York Independent Film Festival at the Village East Cinema on November 11th at 8pm, and in additional venues in the future, to be announced. The trailer of the film will be shown at our meeting, and we will keep you informed on our website.

Please join us for our 11th annual meeting at the Art Students League at 215 West 57th Street
on Wednesday, November 19th 2003 at 6:30 PM. In addition to discussing the details surrounding the cleaning of Michelangelo’s David and awarding the Frank Mason Prize, there will be a report from the Executive Committee and an update on our ongoing battle to prevent the dismantling and moving of the Barnes Collection.

Also at the meeting, ArtWatch member Edmund Rucinski will report on his discoveries regarding the recent and severe “restoration” of a Turner painting in the Clark Art Institute in Massachusetts, which resulted in the loss of a ship in the background of the seascape. The results of this cleaning have caused a rumble in the international press and we are awaiting the response of the restoration team and the museum director.

ArtWatch’s unrelenting defense of our art treasures has informed art lovers, restorers, museum officials, art scholars, and art dealers about the crucial issue of art restoration. Be assured that we are making a difference — we need your encouragement and your support.

James Beck