LACMA Inaugurates Free Collection Catalogs
The catalogs are edited by LACMA curator Leah Lehmbeck, who now juggles European and American art, with contributions by J. Patrice Marandel, Amy Walsh, Ellen Dooley (all formerly of LACMA); plus outside scholars Ann-Lise Desmas (Getty Museum), Mary Levkoff (Hearst Castle), and J. Wheelock Jr. (National Gallery of Art, retired). LACMA's Joseph Fronek supplies technical reports.
The three catalogs cover about 135 gifts from the foundation established by Howard F. Ahmanson, Sr., the Home Saving and Loan tycoon and co-founder of LACMA. That is arguably the one real drawback. The public and scholars would be better served by a comprehensive catalog. Even so, as the catalogs demonstrate, the Ahmanson Foundation has funded a plurality of the most significant of the museum's European works prior to the mid 19th century.
|Circle of van Dyck, Andromeda, about 1638|
Volume 3 of the new catalog assigns Andromeda to "Anthony van Dyck, circle of (possibly Anthony van Dyck and assistants)." Marandel's entry candidly summarizes the debate, writing,
"In rejecting a Van Dyck attribution of the picture, Erik Larsen wrote: 'The salient argument, as always, remains artistic quality; and to compare this poor, mechanical, and clumsy work to e.g. the master's "Cupid and Psyche" appears simply incomprehensible to me.'… Sir Oliver Millar, first a supporter of the painting and of its purchase, however, reversed his position during a visit to the museum in the late 1990s, declaring the work, after careful examination, 'not even by [Peter] Lely.' Of all Van Dyck scholars, only Christopher Brown maintains to this day his confidence in the full authorship of the work."
Below: Two of the most brilliant Ahmanson purchases.
|Hendrik Goltzius, The Sleeping Danaë Being Prepared to Receive Jupiter, 1603|
|Georges de La Tour, The Magdalen with the Smoking Flame, about 1635-37|
As is true of any skilled person in any field, I can easily imagine Anthony Van Dyck having an off day now and then.
As for just one curator at LACMA responsible for both the American and European collections? To save a few bucks for an institution already reportedly bleeding lots of red ink?
Yet some people don't understand why there shouldn't be lots of disgust over what's going on at LACMA?