Sunday, October 21, 2007

Simon Museum Gets to Keep Adam and Eve

Never mind the fact that Marei von Saher, heir to the Jewish art dealer who had the works stolen by the Nazis in WWII had filed suit to have the paintings returned to her. A Los Angeles federal judge has dismissed her case and the five-hundred-year-old paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder will remain at the museum. The moral of the storey – well, if there is a moral, it’s that the individual can’t possibly win out against government and/or other brobdingnagian U. S. institutions, no matter what the circumstances are. The Dutch on the other hand did perform an act of restitution in February 2006 when they returned over 200 of the stolen artworks to the heirs of Jacques Goudstikker, the wealthy Dutch art dealer who fled Holland ahead of the advancing Nazi war machine in 1940.

As a working artist in the United States, I am appalled by our lack of concern for the individual. During the past century we have built into our institutions and government the ability to ignore the people and individuals in the name of public welfare. However, as Katrina proved, the government and institutions also have no obligation to fulfill the needs of people when disaster strikes. The conservative mantra, “they shouldn’t have lived there,” rings in my ears!

So, “let them eat cake,” or bread as the case may be.

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