H. de Roos - The critique of the toronto exhibition


6. The absence of a catalogue would impair an evaluation of the plasters (19)

Serious Penalties And Liabilities...

More generally, Arseneau criticized the exhibition labels in most cases only mention the date the original model was created, not the year of execution, and referred to a critical question from the public:

At the symposium one of the audience, who I later found out is an Toronto attorney(?) "Bonnie Czegledi", who put it more eloquently than this but that museums should be about authenticity. She directly pointed out the ROM's advertisement, in the Toronto Star newspaper, promoting the dates of 1903-4 for the bronze "Thinker" on exhibit was misleading since it was reproduced in the last two years "1999-2000."

[From: Letter from Gary Arseneau to the author, 26 Dec. 2001]

I personally did not see the advertisement in the Toronto Star, but in the exhibition, a text panel in the first room properly explains that most bronzes are "posthumous reproductions", exhibited for educational purposes only, and that the dates assigned to the exhibited works merely indicate the dates of creation of the original model, unless a second date has been added to indicate a further step of translation. In the opinion of David Schaff, these caveats surpass the standard applied in most Museum exhibitions:

Dates: the dates in the documentation and labels reflect the date of creation of the model - this is standard museum practice for registration and signage, and the R.O.M.'s split dating for enlargements and reductions is above this standard.

No-one, except Arseneau, ever confused the large Thinker in the lobby, placed there as an interactive object, with one of the casts made during Rodin's lifetime.

[From: Letter from Dr David Schaff  to the author, 27 Dec. 2001]

Whatever flaws may be detected in the Canadian documentation, PR materials and advertisements, Arseneaus suggestion curators and other officials would be engaged in "deceptive behavior for money (that) could have serious penalties and liabilities" [letter of 26 Dec. 2001] seems widely overcharged - especially if we consider, under what circumstances the MacLaren Art Centre has decided to accept this donation at all.
This will be the topic of Part III.

 

 

 

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