Quick study

Lorettann Gascard
Lorettann Gascard, Rhapsody in Rust, 2008, rust on linen, 30 x 28 inches.

Links to the story about the art history professor who is charged with forgery and her difficulties in the Franklin Pierce art department (lawsuits, etc.), the decline in MFA applicants, and a new book about painting from David Salle.

There’s been a charge of art forgery in Reading, Vermont, and the alleged perp is no stranger to court battles. According to the NY Times, Lorettann Gascard, an art history professor at Franklin Pierce College in New Hampshire, sold a bunch of forged Leon Golub paintings to art collector Andrew J. Hall (who, BTW, recently added one of Deborah Brown’s paintings to his collection), and then she disappeared. According to the report:

She said that she had gotten to know Golub while attending his classes at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, N.J., in the late 1970s, and they became close friends until his death in 2004, according to court papers…

But, she also told people that:

 she grew up in New York and earned her doctorate at the Free University in Berlin.

Nonetheless,

At Franklin Pierce, she taught undergraduate art history and drawing, and supervised the college art gallery. In 2004, she did research in Germany with support from the Fulbright program. Four years later, she contributed a chapter about the “conflicting female ideals” under the Nazis to a book about art and eugenics. Generally liked by her students [and sometimes not–check out Rate My Professor], she often walked around campus wearing white gloves and dark glasses, faculty colleagues said in interviews.

Ms. Gascard was an artist herself, practicing a technique called rust art, and her work sold at auction in one instance for $45,000. She told colleagues at the college that she had been friendly with Golub and his wife, but they do not remember her mentioning that she owned any of his paintings.

But between 2009 and 2011 the Gascards consigned at least eight works they attributed to Golub to auction in New York, including six at Christie’s and one at Sotheby’s, where Mr. Hall purchased them, he said in the suit. The auction houses relied on the story the Gascards told them about the paintings’ provenance, according to the filing.

Reading the article, I was reminded of one of my former colleagues, an art history professor like Gascard, who liked to drop names and allegedly left a previous institution under mysterious circumstances involving sales of artwork from the university’s collection. Once, I remember, her husband (who, come to think of it, claimed friendship with Donald Trump) was transporting paintings for an exhibition she had curated. He stopped in midtown for a sandwich, and his car, along with all the art inside it, went missing.

Anyway, back to Gascard. A quick Google search reveals that the professor had a troubled relationship with other faculty and administrators at Franklin Pierce, where she taught from 1997 and coordinated the art gallery since 1998. She sued the university and administrators for discrimination and emotional distress over several issues, including  retaliation for taking family leave, denial of her application to serve as coordinator of the Fine Arts Department, and removal from her role as gallery coordinator.

The Times article says she has vanished, but I suspect she may have gotten a settlement from Franklin Pierce and left the community, which, by 2015 when she was told she was no longer the coordinator of the gallery, had undoubtedly become a toxic environment for her. Trigger warning: For academics, her battle may sound all too familiar regardless of what side you may be on. Read more.

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Kamar Thomas
Kamar Thomas, a 2015 graduate of the fully-funded MFA program at The University of Connecticut.

According to artnet News, the number of applications submitted to pricey MFA programs have been declining. “Across the country, art schools have minted a growing number of visual art MFA programs over the last 10 to 15 years. Many of them now face a challenge, as application numbers and enrollment figures are falling, according to the better part of a dozen insiders who spoke to artnet News, some of them on condition of anonymity.” Apparently, though, applications to fully-funded programs like the one at the University of Connecticut (my alma mater) are on the rise.  Read more.

Image by Patricia Wall for The New York Times
Image by Patricia Wall for The New York Times

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David Salle has written what looks like a terrific a book about painting.  In the NY Times review, Dwight Garner says that:

Mr. Salle’s mission in “How to See” is to seize art back from the sort of critics who treat each painting “as a position paper, with the artist cast as a kind of philosopher manqué.” Mr. Salle is more interested in talking about nuts and bolts, about what makes contemporary paintings tick. “Theory abounds, but concrete visual perception is at a low ebb,” he maintains. “In my view, intentionality is not just overrated; it puts the cart so far out in front that the horse, sensing futility, gives up and lies down in the street.” Nobody ever loved a painting, he says, for its ideas.

Read more.

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