Showing posts with label James Cuno. Show all posts
Showing posts with label James Cuno. Show all posts

May 30, 2013

Thursday, May 30, 2013 - ,,, No comments

Getty Perspectives: James Cuno and Pico Iyer Discussed Travel and Museums above the fray

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCAblog Editor

Visitors taking the tram up the hill to the Getty Center now listen to a recording by James Cuno, President and CEO of the Getty Trust, welcoming them to visit the galleries and the gardens. Tuesday evening, Cuno, now into his third year at The Getty, joined writer Pico Iyer onstage to discuss travel and museums as part of the Getty Perspectives series.

Iyer, author of a book on his reflections on Graham Greene in The Man Within My Head, was introduced to the audience as someone who "defies classification", as a "resident of LAX", and an essayist on subjects including museums. Cuno, introduced as a man "who has a lot to say about museums" and author of Museums Matter, has spent two years at the Getty emphasizing "critical thinking and integrating digital initiatives".

Cuno spoke with Iyer about his book on Greene; Iyer blaming Greene's intense influence on himself to altitude sickness in La Paz, Bolivia, and a touch of cocoa tea. "I only trust those things you can't explain," Iyer said. In recommending Greene's "The Quiet American" as "still the book to read", describing Greene as the "patron saint of the foreigner alone drifting between uncertainties" and claimed that "travel gives you a privacy you can't get at home."

Travel, like museums, they discussed, can help people understand other parts of the world.

"Museums hold out the promise that museums can introduce people to the complexity of the world," Cuno said, "And open us to tolerance."

Cuno, author of the controversial Who Owns Antiquity?, spoke of the diversity of museum visitors, pointing out that 220 million people live in countries not their own, that a city such as Chicago has a large Greek community that can view objects from Greece in local museums.

"I am very skeptical of governments making claims on individual identities," Cuno said. "My view is that people don't come from governments. Art is not made for a nation. I am suspicious of governments staking claims on a legacy they wish to identify with for grandeur."

Pico noted that when the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan that they destroyed what belongs to us all.

"We're responsible for what is within our jurisdiction," Cuno said. "The Taliban felt that these objects put their cultural identity at risk."

Pico Iyer described the Getty as the sanctuary next to the rush-hour freeway: "Taking us out of the fray and bringing us back to our better selves."

July 24, 2012

James Cuno's "Museums Matter: In Praise of the Encyclopedic Museum" Reviewed in the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of The Journal of Art Crime

David Gill reviews James Cuno's book, Museums Matter: In Praise of the Encyclopedic Museum (The University of Chicago Press, 2011) in the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of The Journal of Art Crime.  Dr. Gill is Head of the Division of Humanities and Professor of Archaeological Heritage at University Campus Suffolk, at Ipswich, Suffolk, England.  James Cuno is president and CEO of The J. Paul Getty Trust.
Cuno is passionate about the contribution of the encyclopedic museum to the cultural landscape of our cosmopolitan world. The implicit statement of his title is a change from the earlier questions that he has raised: Whose Muse? (2004), Who Owns Antiquity? (2008), and Whose Culture? (2009) [see reviews by Gill in JAC 1, 1, Spring 2009, 65-66; 2, 1, Fall 2009, 99-100]. The four core chapters on the Enlightenment, the Discursive, the Cosmopolitan, and the Imperial Museums had their origins in the 2009 Campbell Lectures at Rice University.
Cuno avoids turning his attention to the issue of antiquities. Yet they lurk on the periphery of his text. As I walked around the Greek and Roman galleries of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (a good example of an Encyclopedic Museum) in the first weeks of 2012 I had Cuno’s words in my mind as his imaginary viewer engaged with objects on display: “why it looks the way it does, how it might have been made, by whom and where, and what purpose and meaning it may have had for the first people who saw it and all who subsequently came into contact with it before and after it entered the museum’s collection” (pp. 3-4). Signatures of statue bases as well as on Athenian figure-decorated pots may point us to artists of both high and low status. The iconography may provide insights into Athenian social values and indeed myth. Residual paint on funerary stelai reminds us that not all marble was brilliant white. But what about the viewers? How can we understand the reception of such ancient objects when their contexts have been permanently lost? And so often the pieces have no declared collecting histories that will trace their passage from the ground (or even their archaeological context) to museum gallery.