June 16, 2010

Postgraduate Program in International Art Crime Studies: Week 2

The following was contributed by Renée D., a member of ARCA's Postgraduate Program in International Art Crime studies Class of 2010. The ARCA staff has enlisted her to provide updates on the program's progress as well as to, hopefully, convey some of the intimate nuances and intricacies of life in Amelia to those of us outside its medieval walls. The program runs June 1 through August 13. 

Before the second week of the postgraduate program started, ARCA arranged our first field trip to the medieval city of Orvieto. Narrow and winding, the roads lead up the hills and through picturesque countryside to get to the top of a plateau where Orvieto is situated. Noah met us at the top of the plateau to finish off his week of teaching by giving us a full walk through of Orvieto’s medieval gothic church or duomo, as it is called in Italian. The duomo was truly breath-taking as we took in the same structure that even inspired Michelangelo. It was yet another unexpected reminder that we are in fact walking around in the shadows of the Renaissance masters who once roamed over Orvieto’s cobblestones. Noah challenged us at the church to put to use some of the skills we had learned over the past week and do a little hostile surveillance, which entailed identifying security measures and exits as if we were planning to take something from the church. This is a useful exercise to help prevent potential thefts before they occur from any institution. After, as a special treat, we went around to the back of the church to a separate attached chapel to see the skeleton remains of a Catholic female martyr, who had been speared to death. Over the course of the day, you could see in everyone’s face a sense of delight. Perhaps it was the view from the plateau over the expansive countryside, or the ceiling paintings within the church, or even the taste of gelato on a hot Saturday, but it was impossible not to feel it. 

Back in the classroom in week two, we have been learning about the art world from London-based art historian, Tom Flynn. Although many of the students have art history backgrounds, it is always refreshing to listen to a different point of view on the subject as Tom literally keeps switching between his two sets of glasses throughout his lectures. While Noah shared stories about the Ghent Altarpiece, Tom has already shared interesting anecdotes about collectors such as Albert Barnes and Edward Perry Warren. Flynn, the sculpture scholar, can be spotted among the students watching the World Cup matches in his breezy linen shirts, as well as discussing various topics in the art field at Bar Leonardi. Easy to talk to and extremely knowledgeable, Tom maintains his own art-related blog among his many projects: http://tom-flynn.blogspot.com/

The contemporary English gentleman, Flynn has challenged us this week to present to the class our own thirty minute manifesto for the art world. The topic could range from our personal issues with the art market to our expertise within the art world. Ultimately, it is daunting to tackle such an assignment because how does one really go about chipping away the issues of a world whose existence is kept shroud in mystery to even those who play a part within it? It is somewhat intimidating to stand in front of your peers to talk about your opinions on aspects of a world we all wish to join in some way, but we are all in Amelia to learn how to protect the currency of this world, which is art. To pinpoint an area that we find contention with in the end is to pinpoint where our own passions lie. This exercise really is to our benefit because as we move full speed ahead on the bumpy winding roads within the world of Art, we must overcome our romantic views and weak stomachs to be able to stand in front of anyone to explain the important cultural value of the art we all want to protect.

June 15, 2010

BBC Radio on The Carabinieri Art Squad

On BBC Radio Four, writer and historian Alex Butterworth travels to Rome to meet the Carabinieri squad in charge of protecting Italy's priceless cultural heritage. Hear about the Carabinieri Division for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, including commentary and an interview with ARCA founder Noah Charney.

June 11, 2010

Value of public art in vandalism cases an unclear issue

ARCA's Business Director, Mark Durney, was quoted in the Southeast Missourian's article "Value of public art in vandalism cases an unclear issue" (11 June 2010). The article describes a recent criminal court case that involved a work of art on public display that was vandalized. Access the article here.

June 8, 2010

Postgraduate Program in International Art Crime Studies: Week 1

The following was contributed by Renée D., a member of ARCA's Postgraduate Program in International Art Crime studies Class of 2010. The ARCA staff has enlisted her to provide updates on the program's progress as well as to, hopefully, convey some of the intimate nuances and intricacies of life in Amelia to those of us outside its medieval walls. The program runs June 1 through August 13. 

The bells start ringing signaling that its noon and we are all in summer school. I briefly gaze out the side window from my seat and all you can see is the clay rooftops, the old buildings, and blue sky. Suddenly reality hits, we are not just in summer school, we are in Italy.

ARCA’s postgraduate program in International Art Crime Studies, class of 2010, is double the size of last year’s premiere group and rumor has it that interest for next summer’s program is already in record numbers. The program attracts people from all walks of life and all different backgrounds. This summer we are curators, conservators, lawyers, law students, appraisers, art historians, private investigators, gallerists, mapmakers, and archeologists. We are inquisitive. We are intelligent. We are the Art World.

As a group, we have already started to acclimate ourselves to this small beautiful Italian town called Amelia. Lunch ultimately sends us to Bar Leonardi, a local hot spot bar at the cross section of all the main roads in town. The staff of Leonardi tolerates our broken Italian as we sip our cappuccinos and snack on our sandwiches. The local older men sit under the overhang in the shade discussing various topics, but mostly they are studying the ARCA students with curiosity as if we ourselves are an exhibit at a museum.

For others, Punto Di Vino has become a home away from home. Luciano, the wine bar’s owner, and his family are so accommodating to our program as they offer us a glass of wine, a warm meal of risotto, and a piece of chocolate as we catch up with our families back home through Luciano’s free wireless connection.

The elusive Noah Charney, founder and president of ARCA, is finally extremely accessible to us this first week as he leads our lectures, which address topics ranging from forgeries to vandalism. He shares his personal love for Il Bronzino and the Ghent Altarpiece with us, and for the importance of churches needing better security systems. Noah sports a wallet chain and hair that until recently sported a ponytail. He also has been spotted smoking a Sherlock Holmes-esque pipe during lunch. Noah captures our attention with his vast knowledge and his way of engaging us by asking us questions that range from how we would define art to how we would handle security when a potential vandal enters our hypothetical museum.

This first week has allowed us to revisit issues that many of us have thought about extensively before but now perhaps can rethink in a different light. It is a great preview for the rest of the program. We are still in summer school, but while our shared passion to learn about this understudied yet relevant field keeps us going to class, we know that when class breaks for lunch, the Italian sun will be waiting for us.

June 3, 2010

ARCA's Colette Marvin at the Scene of the Crime at musée d'art moderne de la ville de Paris

Recently, ARCA's Colette Marvin, Director of Public and Institutional Relations, visited the scene of the crime while on business in Paris. Colette spent the past fall and winter organizing and curating a special exhibit on art crime at the National Museum of Crime and Punishment. Currently, she is engaged in a documentary project focused on the career of the infamous forger, Elmyr de Hory.