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June 13, 2013

Thursday, June 13, 2013 - ,, No comments

Report from Amelia: ARCA Intern Sophia Kisielewska Writes about Dr. Tom Flynn's "Art & Business" Course

Photo of ARCA Class 2013
by Sophia Kisielewska, ARCA Intern

Art Historian Dr. Tom Flynn led the first course of ARCA's Postgraduate Certificate Program in International Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection Studies.

Dr. Flynn, a London art lecturer and docent, began "The International Art Market and Associated Risk" on Monday by asking the students to consider the question ‘what is the relationship between economic and aesthetic value’.  During the week he went through the history of the art market and explored how ideas of value were initially generated and understood within it.  The class looked at how the fashion for Cabinets of Curiosity stimulated an interest in enlightened thought and then later in the 18th century how the first auction houses in London, Christies and Sotheby’s, stimulated an interest in creating collections of art.  We learned how the desire to form collections of all things Classical and Italian was initiated by the travels made by the young aristocracy that had travelled to Greece and Italy on their ‘Grand Tours’.

With his vast experience in the art market Dr. Flynn guided the class through its complex structure, explaining the contemporary significance and ever-evolving roles of every faction: the auction houses, the art dealers, art collectors, museums and the art media.  He created a very easy atmosphere for debate and discussion and right from the off everyone was keen to contribute knowledge gained from their different experiences of the market. The vibrant mix of nationalities and expertise in the class made for a fascinating arena of discussion and those with specialist areas of knowledge brought valuable insights to share with the class, such as Anna Knutsson who, having worked as a researcher and cataloguer at The Smith Library and former Sales-room assistant at Christies, has had a lot of experience in the market of books and manuscripts.

Students also shared their own cultural/national perspectives.  Mink Boyce, a gallerist and art consultant from Auckland, shared her experiences of working in the New Zealand art market.  She spoke of the complicated ethical issues surrounding the trading of traditional Maori art, and the need for greater cultural sensitivity in the art market when dealing with such works.  This discussion arose from a mention of the recent controversial sale in Paris that auctioned off Native American Hopi and Zuni tribal masks. 

Every day after class, the debates have been transferred with enthusiasm to either Punto di Vino – a sophisticated wine bar just around the corner that welcomes the ARCA students like family -- or Bar Leonardi – a bar placed just outside the gate which offers an authentic Italian bar experience.

On Tuesday morning, Monica Di Stefano (ARCA’s resident Amerino) directed those who had signed up for Italian lessons in their first ciao’s and mi chiamo’s.  Armed with their exercise books, the students moved very speedily through the basics and by Thursday morning could be seen rushing into Caffe Grande before class to confidently test out their new skills on Massimo, everyone’s favorite barista.

On Saturday, at 7.45 a.m., more than 20 students made their way by bus to the beautiful Umbrian town of Orvieto. Monica Di Stefano, the trip’s tour guide, spoke of the city’s history from its inception as a major Etruscan settlement to its interesting relationship to the papacy in the Renaissance period and to being the one-time home of Thomas Aquinas.  The highlight for all the students seems to have been  Luca Signorelli’s astonishing San BrizioChapel in the Duomo, whose powerfully exaggerated nudes are famously thought to have been inspiration for Michelangelo’s ‘Last Judgement’ fresco in the Sistine chapel.  When asked about the trip, ARCA student Georgina Roberts said, ‘A quaint town with astronomical amounts of culture… and great ice cream’.

That evening many ARCA students joined the locals of Amelia in a pizza evening hosted by the ‘Collis’ contrada.  Amelia, like many medieval towns of Italy, such as Siena, is divided into condrade, and these zones of the city compete in various medieval events throughout the year.  The evening was finished off with music and a raffle, where ARCA student Sloane Taliaferro won third prize: a snazzy beach-bag and tights.

By Sunday everyone seemed a bit exhausted. Most people were seen taking it easy in the sun - when it wasn’t raining - but a few were hurriedly finishing their assignments for Dr. Flynn or desperately flicking through Noah Charney’s book Stealing the Mystic Lamb in preparation for Monday’s class.

Sophia Kisielewska recently finished her MA History of Art degree from the University of Edinburgh , which included a year of study at the Universita' di Roma Tre.