Like many museums The Cleveland Museum of Art is in the middle of a building program. Theirs should be finished in 2013. The original building was built in 1916 and in 1970 another building was added designed by Marcel Breuer. On one of the landings are three portholes Before, with a historic image, Future, with a photo of the final model and Present where you actually see the construction going on. During construction one needs to navigate to the 1916 and Breuer buildings and to do that you go down to go around to go up again and sometimes more than once. I got my exercise within the buildings.
Being involved in so many media, I always need to see several curators and they are not always available just because I arrive. I was, however, lucky enough to meet with the curators of paintings, drawings, medieval art and decorative arts and had material to show to them. Of course, many departments are divided by period as well so for paintings you have curators before 1800, the 19th century and the 20th & 21st centuries. The “good old days” when the director of the Cleveland Museum accompanied by a couple of the pertinent curators, who were not so numerous as now, could make decisions on site in New York. These days, though curatorial visits still occur but they are more often at art fairs where they do not need to slog from gallery to gallery. As there is less art available there seem to be more dealers to handle it!
As any business person understands it helps to put in face-time and get to know the people who choose the art and can tell you in what direction they and their director are hoping to go. But curators must also be opportunistic if the “right” work of art comes up. So, I am trying to find the right work of art and pique the curator’s interest and possibly show them something that they had not thought of. In the old days I would send transparencies when I got back to New York. Today, I can send an email as soon as I get back to my computer, much more practical and expeditious.
I learned that neo-classicism was of interest in the painting and drawings departments, but not in the decorative arts. This made perfect sense in light of what had been collected in the past.
Below, are a pair of paintings by Rubens, Diana Before the Hunt and a portrait of Isabella Brandt, Rubens’ first wife, that we sold many many years ago to the Cleveland Museum. In all, the museum has acquired over 100 works of art through my family.
I have 2 more stops to make on my tour. Tomorrow I head for, Toledo, Ohio and then Detroit. Like Cleveland’s, their art museums have been major clients of our firm over the years.