Retrospective: The Louvre’s Art Protection during World War I

And other excerpts from our coverage 100, 75, 50, and 25 years ago

100 Years Ago

September 19, 1914

September 19, 1914

“Protecting the Louvre”

For the last four weeks the staff has been working hard to carry out the measures ordered for the protection of chief works of art from what a French paper says is the only danger that menace them—aerial bombs.

In 1870 the Venus of Milo was walled up in a subterranean niche. The advance of civilization has evolved a more prosaic and more effective protection, and she now enclosed in a steel room. The “Winged Victory” is sheltered behind heavy iron plates, and the “Gioconda” smiles in obscurity as inscrutably as ever. The Grecian Hall, which contains the masterpieces of Phidias, is protected by sacks filled with earth against any aerial attack. The upper stories of the Louvre, with their glass roofs, have been turned into hospitals, and the flag of the Red Cross protects the works which remain there.

75 Years Ago

September 16, 1939

September 16, 1939

“The Refurbished Whitney Reopens: Show for the Fair,”
by Alfred M. Frankfurter

With a canny sense of timing that recalls Oscar Wilde’s inspired formula for social success—to be the last to arrive at a party and the first to leave—a newer and grander Whitney Museum of American Art last week opened its World’s Fair exhibition, entitled “Twentieth Century Artists,” which, it must be said, in all fairness, was also delayed by the reinstallation of several galleries and a complete refurbishment of the others. Continuing in the spirit of intimacy and a fresh, agreeable milieu which have always contributed delight to a visit to the Whitney, there is pleasant new paint everywhere, and in the new galleries a remarkably efficient system combining daylight illumination and artificial lighting ingeniously devised by Thomas S. Kelly.

50 Years Ago

September 1964

September 1964

“The Position of the Artist in Cuba Today,”
by Tana de Gàmez

“What’s Pop Art like?” “Did you bring copies of ART NEWS?” “We’re short of brushes.” “Couldn’t you have tucked a few tubes of black for us in your suitcase?” “I’m carving with my kid’s penknife.” “How’s the Museum of Modern Art? Still showing our work?” “Wasn’t it wonderful that Lam got a Guggenheim prize? Tell us about it!” This is how artists greeted me in Havana, for the American blockade of Cuba has affected their supply of art materials and periodicals, formerly imported almost exclusively from the United States.

Yet the emergency has spurred Cuban pride and inventiveness and rallied artists to a renewed esprit de corps. At the cost of precious gasoline a fine brush is sent traveling from one end of town to another for several artists to share.

25 Years Ago

September 1989

September 1989

“The Billion-Dollar Blockbuster,”
by Nancy Stapen

[T]he Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, which is organizing next year’s van Gogh retrospective commemorating the centennial of the artist’s death, recently announced the astonishing valuation of $3 billion for the exhibition. The show will not travel because insurance costs place it beyond the reach of even the wealthiest institutions.

Despite these obstacles, museum professionals believe that the era of the blockbuster is not yet over. Bust most agree that artists in certain fields—notably the “household word” Old Masters, the Impressionists, the Post-Impressionists, and the modern masters—are becoming too valuable for blockbuster shows.

A version of this story originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of ARTnews on page 112.

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