April 2, 2014

Nominees for ARCA's 2014 Award for Lifetime Achievement in Defense of Art

Ballots have been released to the Board of Trustees to vote on the nominations for ARCA's 2014 Lifetime Achievement in Defense of Art which usually goes to an individual or institution in recognition of many decades of excellence in the field. Past winners: Carabinieri TPC collectively (2009), Howard Spiegler (2010), John Merryman (2011), Dr. George H. O. Abungu (2012), Blanca NiƱo Norton (2013) The Nominees for 2014 Lifetime Achievement in Defense of Art Award are:

Claudio Cimino, WATCH, World Association for the Protection of Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage

Nominator’s Synopsis – "Claudio Cimino has designed and managed several projects in over 35 countries in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and Europe, developing a professional experience in architecture, urban and regional planning; cultural heritage restoration, conservation and management; industrial design and Arts and Crafts. In January 2006, he was elected Secretary General of WATCH (the World Association for the protection of Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage in times of armed conflicts) and, as such, he maintains close relations with UNESCO, ICCROM, ICOMOS, ICOM, IIHL. His latest professional engagement focuses on the study of progressive Risk Preparedness, Mitigation and Response measures in case of natural events and human activities, including armed conflicts, embedded within comprehensive Site Management plans for World Heritage enclosed within urban areas."
MA and Post Graduate in Architecture at the University ‘La Sapienza’ in Rome. Since 1984, a member at the Board of Architects of Rome, he is the President of Alchemia Project Associates an architects associate firm based in Rome. After over a decade spent doing research in Latin America with a grant from the Italian CNR and coordinating international cooperation projects for the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he managed several international projects gaining a vast experience in: 1. Institutional capacity building and reform, mostly focusing on Culture and Cultural Heritage conservation and promotion; 2. Heritage Management Planning and Risk preparedness; 3. Bilateral and multilateral negotiation with national and local authorities; 4. Urban Rehabilitation of historic city centres; 5. Creating job opportunities for underprivileged social sectors, including Gender and Youth. He organised and implemented several thematic international focus groups, conferences, workshops and trainings. He consults and/or managed international programmes and initiatives for the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Italian Foreign Trade Commission, the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, and Tourism, the World Bank and the European Commission. Free lecturer in several Italian and European Universities on cultural heritage and EU funded project design & management.
Anne Webber, founder and director of The Commission for Looted Art In Europe
Nominator’s Synopsis – "Anne Webber, founder and director of The Commission for Looted Art In Europe, is a documentary film producer by profession, who having made a documentary on holocaust looted art has dedicated herself to founding and running the commission as a charity. She works internationally in the interest of the families who lost art during World War II and has become an internationally recognised expert on the subject and has achieved many recoveries and settlements in the process."
Anne Webber, together with David Lewis, is founder and Co-Chair of the Commission for Looted Art in Europe (CLAE) and co-founder and Director of the Central Registry of Looted Cultural Property 1933-1945 at www.lootedart.com, set up in 2001 as an independent charitable body under the auspices of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies. The Registry is an international research centre and online repository of detailed research, news and information from 49 countries and an onine database of 25,000 objects. Anne Webber was a member of the drafting team of Council of Europe Resolution 1205 (1999) on the restitution of looted cultural property in Europe, on the organising committee of the Vilnius International Forum 2000 and the Prague Conference 2009 and is a member of the Advisory Council of the European Shoah Legacy Institute. She was a member of the British Spoliation Advisory Committee which supervised the provenance research work of British museums throughout its term of 1999-2008. She was a member of the Hunt Museum Review Group and is on the Executive Board of the International Research Portal for Records Related to Nazi-Era Cultural Property. She founded and chaired the UK's International Tracing Service (ITS) Stakeholder Committee which negotiated the UK's taking a digital copy of the ITS records to be housed at The Wiener Library, London. She is a member of the UK Government Delegation to the International Commission which governs the ITS, and is a member of The Wiener Library's ITS Oversight Committee. She is a Governor of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, President of the Jewish Book Council and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Rev. Dr. Marius Zerafa, O.P. (S.T.L., Lect. Th., A.R. Hist. S., Dr. Sc.Soc) B.A. Hons. (Lond), A.R.Hist.Soc. (Lond)

Nominator’s Synopsis – "Father Marius Zerafa is an extraordinary Maltese Dominican scholar, an art historian, a fine classical artist and an art restorer. The founder of the Museum of Fine Arts in Valletta, Malta, he is also the former Curator and Director of the Malta Museums.

While Director of Museums, Dr. Zerafa successfully negotiated the retrieval of Caravaggio's only signed piece, St. Jerome, which had been stolen from St. John's Co-Cathedral on New Year’s Eve in 1984. His roll in the painting’s recovery probably represents the longest civilian communication with art thieves outside those directly working in an official law enforcement capacity. On December 31, 1984 thieves cut down the autographed Caravaggio’s painting and quickly disappeared leaving little in the way of traceable leads. While many stolen paintings disappear forever, it is directly through the patient work and continued work of Fr. Marius that the painting was eventually recovered almost three years after the initial theft. For two years after the heist, Maltese authorities had no viable leads as to the whereabouts of the Caravaggio or the identity of the thieves. All efforts to trace the work had lead to dead ends and the investigation had stalled despite the involvement of Interpol and the Maltese police. Then one day Father Marius was approached at the door of the priory by a young man who handed him an envelope and a tape with a note which read, “Father, do not open this envelope until you have listened to the tape and when you do listen to the tape, see that you are alone."  The tape contained the message, “We have the painting, we want money. Don’t contact the police or else.” Inside the envelope was a Polaroid photograph of the Carravaggio of St Jerome, held open from its rolled state by a haphazardly placed espresso pot placed directly on top of the painting to the left of St. Jerome’s shoulder. This would be the first of many contacts over an eight month period with the thieves which included many telephone calls from “Merisi", the pseudonym used by the man making the ransom demands. During that period, Fr. Zefara was required to stall the culprits during multiple attempts to wire tap the priest’s phone to intercept the calls and perhaps determine the whereabouts of the thieves. To stall, he repeatedly fabricated reasons for the thieves to call back, hearing confession, meetings with Malta’s Prime Minister to come up with the ransom amount requested, sick members of the parish. As the thieves’ patience grew thin, they made veiled threats to his person and sent him slices of the Caravaggio’s canvas as if to prove their point not just regarding the painting but about the his wellbeing. His self-published memoir "The Caravaggio Diaries" is a personal account based on the diary he kept during this lengthy ordeal and after the eventual capture of the painting’s thieves."
Fr. started education at the Government Primary School till Class III, when, at the age of 9, he entered the Malta Lyceum. With the encouragement of Dun Gorg Preca he joined the Dominican Order in 1945. He spent three years at the Dominican House of Studies in Rabat and was then sent to “Hawkesyard”, Staffordshire, and later to “Blackfriars”, Oxford (1948-1952). Went to Rome (1952-54) where he obtained his S.Th.B. and Dip.Sc.Soc. He returned to Rome for another two years and obtained his Lectorate and Licentiate in Sacred Theology and a Doctorate in Social Sciences. He also attended the State University in Rome and obtained a Diploma in Art History. Later he also obtained a B.A. Hons. Degree in Art History from the University of London. He also followed courses at the Sorbonne and at the Ecole de Louvre, Paris, (1963 and 1966); at the University of Florence (1965 and 1968); at the Brera, Milan, and at the Fondazione Cini, Venice, (1965). Working on a thesis for the Degree of D.Litt. at Florence University. 
In 1962 he was elected Associate of the Royal Historical Society, London. He is a member of the Accademia Tiberina and was awarded the French Decoration “Chevalier dans l`Ordre des Arts et des Lettres”, the Russian “Order of Lomonosov” and “Insignia of Merit”, and the Florence “Beato Angelico” Medal. He is also Knight of Grace, O.S.J. Fr Zerafa was awarded Art Scholarships by the Italian Government on the occasion of Malta`s Independence and again in 1968. He visited museums in the United States on an International Visitors Program; worked at the Louvre, Paris, on a Council of Europe Fellowship; had a British Council Grant in 1967 and a German Government Bursary sponsored by Inter Nationes. He was also invited to the Soviet Union as Co-Founder of the Maltese-Soviet Friendship Society. Fr Zerafa was Secretary and Senior History and Literature Master at St Albert`s College, Valletta, (1954-62); Professor of Social Philosophy and Sacred Art at the Dominican House of Studies, Rabat; Lecturer in Fr. Marius Zerafa O.P. Sociology in the Pastoral Course for the Clergy; Examiner in Sociology at the University of Malta; Lecturer in History and Appreciation of Art at the Malta School of Art; Lecturer in Sacred Art at the Major Seminary; at I.N.S.E.R.M.; Lecturer in Art Appreciation at St Edward`s College; taught English Literature and Art History at St Teresa monastery, Cospicua. He also lectured regularly, mainly on Art, at the British Council Centre, the Italian Istituto di Cultura, the Alliance Francaise and other cultural centres. For many years he was sub-editor of “Scientia” and Archivist of the Maltese Dominican Province. 
While studying in Florence, he was encouraged by Prof G LaPira, ex mayor of the City, to set up an Art Centre at S Marco, but had to return to Malta for family reasons. Fr Zerafa joined the Museums Department in 1970 as Assistant Curator of Fine Arts and was responsible for the setting up of the National Museum of Fine Arts, Valletta and the Museum of Contemporary Art at St Julian`s. He became Curator of Fine Arts in 1975 and Director of Museums in 1981. He was responsible for the opening of a number of museums in Malta and Gozo. During this period he was involved in the recovery of the painting “St Jerome” by Caravaggio. His tactful contact with the thieves, over a period of eight months resulted in the successful recovering of this masterpiece. Fr Zerafa has been invited to lecture at the Smithsonian, Washington; at Fordham University, New York; at the American University, Rome; at the Dominican Curia Generalizia, Rome; at Aspen Museum, Colorado; at the Moscow State University; at the Academy for Contemporary Art, Moscow; at the Academy for Design, Togliattigrad; at the Preti Museum, Taverna; at Budapest Museum, as well as other educational institutions. He has taken part in International conferences in Quebec, Tunis and other cities and has helped organize numerous art exhibitions in London, Paris, Moscow and Palermo. He was Chairman of Government committees and of other committees of various organizations. Until his resignation was Chairman of the Archdiocesan Commission for Sacred Art. 
He is a member of the Dominican Commission for Preaching through Art. Fr Zerafa retired from the Museums Department at the age of 61. He is now lecturer in Sacred Art at the Angelicum University, Rome. He is also “Aquinas Visiting Scholar” at Toronto University, Canada. He lectures at Cultural centres in Malta, and often leads groups of students on cultural tours abroad. He has restored works by Mattia Preti, Favray, and other Masters. His own paintings and sculptures are to be found in churches and collections in Malta and abroad. An exhibition of his works and projects was held at Gallery G in December 2007. Publications: “Developments in the doctrine of private property” (Rome, 1945) “The Genesis of Marx`s realist interpretation of History” (Rome, 1962) “Caravaggio Diaries” (Malta, 2004) Being translated into Italian and Russian. “Memories” (In preparation) Contributions to the Encyclopaedia of Contemporary Art, Florence: to Thieme Becker, Berlin: and other publications.