UAMA Community Art Talks: 'Art Crime: A Case Study From the University of Arizona Museum of Art'
The University of Arizona Museum of Art Docent Council presents interactive and scholarly talks on artists and art movements related to the museum's collection. Can't make it to the museum? We bring the museum to you!
Art crime – from iconoclasm to copyright issues, from forgeries to theft – is not a new phenomenon. While there are infinite ways to discuss art crime in general, this lecture will focus on two major crimes at the University of Arizona Museum of Art.
The 1980s was a difficult decade for the museum. First, there was the discovery of forgeries in the permanent collection. Works said to be created by Wassily Kandinksy, Franz Marc, Edgar Degas, and Lyonel Feininger, were later found to be fakes after having been exhibited for many years. As if this was not enough, the day after Thanksgiving in 1985, two people entered the museum and left with Willem de Kooning's "Woman-Ochre." For 31 years, the painting's whereabouts remained a mystery. Only just recently was the painting returned, having been found at an estate sale.
This talk will trace the events and outcomes of each of these crimes against art at the UA Museum of Art and how they have affected the institution. While it is not easy to discuss these painful moments in our museum's history, the staff believes that it is the museum's responsibility to acknowledge these events and to educate the public about real-world issues in museums.