Bipartisan politicians rally to save US cultural funding

Musician David Byrne spoke at the Rally to Save the Arts at New York’s City Hall in April (Photo: PACIFIC PRESS/Alamy Live News)
Calls of support for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)one of 19 federal agencies targeted for the axe under US President Donald Trumps proposed budgethave come from unexpected quarters. At the end of March, a letter signed by more than 150 members of the US House of Representatives, including 11 Republicans, asked that the NEAs funding not only be spared but increased from $148m to $155m.

The letter was spearheaded by the houses Arts Caucus co-chairs Louise Slaughter (Democrat, New York) and Leonard Lance (Republican, New Jersey). Lance says bipartisan support for the NEA is crucial and also points to a unique incentive from the Republican perspective: the multiplier effect that arts funding has on the US economy. This benefit was also a focus of the letter, which stated that the total dollar amount that the arts and culture sector contributes to the US economy is more than $729bn, or 4.23% of the US gross domestic product, more than construction ($672bn) or transportation and warehousing ($510bn). This follows a letter in support of the NEA from 24 US senators, including two Republicans and two Independents, sent to President Trump in February.

Lance again spoke in support of the agency at the Paper Mill Playhouse, a local theatre in Millburn, New Jersey, when it held a performance on 17 April by participants in its Theatre for Everyone initiative, which provides acting classes for people with autism and their families and received $40,000 of NEA funding last year. I think it is critically important that the arts be as inclusive as possible, Lance tells The Art Newspaper.

The former governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, who ran against Trump in the Republican presidential campaign, wrote a conservative plea for the National Endowment for the Arts that was published in the Washington Post in March, focusing on the impact the agency has for the countrys future generations, especially those in disadvantaged areas. Many children get their only access to music and the arts via grants made by the NEA40% of which go to high-poverty neighbourhoods, while 36% reach underserved people, such as veterans and those with disabilities, Huckabee wrote. In fiscal 2016, NEA grants went to nearly 16,000 communities, in every congressional district in the country.

A Rally to Save the Arts organised by the New York City Council was held in front of City Hall on 3 April, drawing speakers including David Byrne, the writer, musician and former Talking Heads frontman, and Tom Finkelpearl, the commissioner of the citys department of cultural affairs and the former director of the Queens Museum. Bipartisan backing for the arts is exactly what is needed in Congress, Finkelpearl told us after the event. This is not a thing where its us against them. Cultural boards are often very diverse politically. In Queens, we had Republicans on our board. He also pointed to New Yorks own robust cultural infrastructure as a positive example. Were the next biggest arts council in the USbigger than any other state or city. And its partially because of this long-term support from elected officials who recognise the value of the arts and culture to their communities.

Laure de Beauvau-Craon, princess and former chair of Sotheby’s France, has died, aged 74

Laure de Beauvau-Craon was named chief executive of Sotheby's France in 1991 (Photo: Jean Bernard Vernier/Sygma via Getty Images)
Laure de Beauvau-Craon, who led Sothebys France for almost 15 years, died on Saturday, 29 April in Anjou, in the Loire valley, aged 74. Born Laure de Rougemont, she became a princess when she married Marc de Beauveau-Craon, the heir of a noble house tied to the duchy of Lorraine. Her royal title did not stop her from wagingand winninga war on another ancient order, Frances commissaires-priseurs.  Established by King Henry II in 1556, the organisation held a monopoly over the auction market in France for centuries.

De Beauvau-Craon was a formidable woman, of great strength and character. The daughter of a French resistance leader and army General, she spent much of her childhood in the UK and US and studied languages, including Russian. While working with Sothebys in the 1980s, her connectionsshe hunted with the German princely house of Thurn und Taxis and was friends with the collector Antenor Patinomade her the perfect intermediary for the auction house in France, where the commissaires-priseurs were the only auctioneers legally allowed to operate. In 1986, she was able to snatch the collection of the Countess of Behague from under their noses, and Sothebys put it up for auction in Monaco.

In 1991, the chairman of Sothebys, Michael Ainslie, appointed her to head the companys branch in France, which was a small but elite family, with the best young experts available. Marc Blondeau, who had opened the office, specialised in Impressionist and Modern art, Etienne Brton in Old Masters and Alexandre Pradre in furniture. Widowed and childless at the age of 40, De Beauvau-Craon seized the moment and launched her revolution, filing a complaint to the European Commission against the commissaires-priseurs monopoly in France. During this time, Sothebys France annually exported around 600 million francs (the equivalent of 110m to 140m today) worth of art to London and New York, where it was put under the hammer.

In 1997, under pressure from the European Commission, the French government proposed a law that would end the monopoly but, two years later, the Parliament had still not passed it. Not one to be thwarted by bureaucracy, De Beauvau-Craon challenged the authorities by organising a sale of the Charles de Beistegui collection at the chteau de Groussay, near Paris. In 2000, under the threat of heavy sanctions by the European Commission, the French government finally opened the countrys art market to foreign auction houses.

Nothing would ever be the same. Sothebys sales in Paris last year amounted to 220m. The small office became a big company whose exports to London and New York have only increased. In a way, this saddened the Princess, who had wanted to build a more independent Parisian art market, a goal that was not always shared by Sothebys headquarters in London or New York. She retired in 2004, devoting herself to a passion for Russian literature and looking after a small castle in Lorraine. She remained loved by everyoneeven the commissaires-priseurs she so ferociously fought, and conquered.

Tefaf’s transplant takes root in New York

Dalí’s Buste de femme rétrospectif will be on the Di Donna stand
The European Fine Art Fair (Tefaf) returns to Manhattan just eight months after the New York spinoffs launch by the Dutch stalwart in co-operation with Artvest Partners.

This time, the focus is on Modern and contemporary art and design. The 93 participating galleries are offering everything from a luminous aluminium chain from the French design studio Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec (Galerie Kreo; prices on the stand range from 2,000 to 80,000) and furniture designed by Ingrid Donat (Biblioteque 5 elements; Carpenters Workshop; $260,000) to rare 1920s mural panels from Thomas Hart Bentons series of US historical epics (Bernard Goldberg; priced at more than $20m).

Taking up residence in the Armorys period rooms are 15 dealers, including the Di Donna gallery, which is cooking up a Surrealist feast with gastronomy-themed works by artists such as Magritte, Arp and Dal (his 1933/1977 Buste de femme rtrospectif is priced at $950,000). Emmanuel Di Donna says that he wanted to embrace the dining rooms intrinsic charm and quirkiness with a presentation mirroring the eclectic nature of Tefaf: a 20th-century version of a Surrealist cabinet de curiosits, celebrating earthly pleasures. The exhibit will be shown at the gallerys Madison Avenue space after the fair.

Some galleries are betting on single-artist presentations, including Lisson, which is offering early paintings made in post-war Paris by the Cuban-American artist Carmen Herrera to coincide with an exhibition of recent paintings by the artist, who is due to celebrate her 102nd birthday on 31 May, at the gallerys New York space. 

Hans Krauss stand in the cavernous Drill Hall will showcase never-before-exhibited works by some of the greats of early photography, such as William Henry Fox Talbot and Julia Margaret Cameron. Kraus, who has seven editions of Tefaf Maastricht under his belt, says he is confident that the discriminating Tefaf New York audience will embrace this event with enthusiasm.

Mathias Rastorfer from Galerie Gmurzynska, which specialises in classic Modern and classic contemporary, says the gallery has been looking for the right fair to do in New York for a while. For us it is a question of how many fairs you can do a year and still bring fresh material and works that are relevant without it just becoming a travelling circus. Tefafs calibre and reputation, combined with the fact that the gallerys client base is just a few blocks away from the Armory were contributing factors in the gallery's decision to participate. Gmurzynskas booth, designed by Alexandre de Betak, will feature works ranging in price from around $300,000 to around $6m by Mir, Lger, and Robert Indiana as well as have a special cube filled with previously unseen works by Russian avant-garde artists. An accompanying text about the display has been written by Germano Celant.

Tefaf New York Spring, Park Avenue Armory, 4-8 May

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