Monday, January 26, 2009

le gossip

One of my best friends works at the National Gallery in DC. She has one of those amazing jobs in conservation and restoration that requires her to fly out to Italy for a week so that she can escort a few paintings back to the gallery. Not only does this mean a behind the scenes tour when I go out there for the Cherry Blossom Festival (I'm still despondent that I didn't visit her in Los Angeles to take advantage of the same treatment at the Getty), it also means that I'm occasionally privy to juicy bits of gossip from the national and international art community. So with her permission, I'd like to share a story that confirms what many already suspected: Mrs. Cheney is kind of awful.

The National Gallery is constantly lending out paintings to federal buildings. Nothing first-tier (they'd like to keep their da Vincis in house, thank you very much), only second- and third-tier paintings. So a pretty great perk of being elected to executive office is that you'll be provided a pre-selected list of paintings, and you get to choose which you would like to bedeck the walls of your offices during your term. The last few months of my friend's job have been spent cataloguing and examining paintings returned by the Bush Administration, and helping to provide the same service to the Obama administration (who, apparently, have great contemporary taste).

There was a particular painting of a young girl by Lydia Field Emmet (an American artist best known for portraits) that Mrs. Cheney had wanted to hang in her office. For conservation purposes, all the paintings that the National Gallery lend out are covered in UV-protective glass, and the locations where they are hung must have the gallery's approval (avoid indirect sunlight, exterior walls, etc). Mrs. Cheney made such a fuss about the glass that they finally broke down and let her hang the Emmet piece without protective covering, as long as it was hung in the safe location that they'd approved. Unbeknownst to them, Mrs. Cheney later moved the painting into another room IN FRONT OF A WINDOW. For years the painting was exposed to sunlight on a daily basis. When it was returned to the gallery, the canvas was slack, the corners were drawn, and paint on the edges was beginning to flake. A mess. Mrs. Cheney (who'd already been difficult enough when selecting the piece) refused to take any responsibility. So now, let's just hope our nation's finest conservators can save this historic piece.

Please, treat art with respect.


♥ Chloe said...

Yay gossip!

I really wish the Cheneys would fuck off. I wish they'd all fuck off. I never want to see them again.

Unfortunately, whenever I take a walk and head to the south I always walk across a little cul de sac named "Cheney Place". It makes my heart twinge with fear every time. :(

a tiny machine said...

since i live in minneapolis, i usually only get walker art center gossip. so i was pretty psyched to hear this story. federal gossip! it's a good thing they closed down gitmo. i could see cheney coming for me.