Beach Museum Accused of False Advertising
By Sarah Rice
Kansas State Collegian (Kansas State U.)
(U-WIRE) MANHATTAN, Kan. — A critic has been watching closely as the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art advertises its feature exhibition.
Gary Arseneau, lithographer and art dealer in Fernandina Beach, Fla., has made accusations against the Beach Museum claiming the collection, "Rodin's Obsession: The Gates of Hell, Selections from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Collection," is displaying 23 fake sculptures advertised as originals.
"Twenty-three of the 30 sculptures were done between 1931 and 1996, after Rodin's death," Arseneau said. "The Web site is seriously misleading. They weren't sculptures. They were posthumous fakes done in the 20th century. That alone impeaches credibility for this exhibition. They are at best reproductions of his art.
"When you look at the Web site, it says the sculptures were created in 1880 to 1900 — they know that's a lie. That's deception. When they promote these objects that were done after his death, that's deception."
However, Beach Museum Director Lorne Render said the sculptures exhibited are Rodin originals.
"They were authorized by Rodin's estate. Therefore, they are original," Render said. "These are all legitimate, original sculptures. A sculpture is authorized when it is cast. They are authorized by the sculpter or his estate. Therefore, they are originals."
Judith Sobol, executive director of the Cantor Foundation, said all the sculptures are authorized.
"All of the work in the collection is original," Sobol said. "Everything that is in the collection was authorized by the artist."
Arseneau said it is obvious to him the sculptures are fake because Rodin's signature appears on many of the pieces of art.
"The most glaring, important point to make is they all have his signatures," he said. "When he was alive, he didn't sign his name to his bronze. He gave a sample of his signature to foundries that cast his work to apply his name with authorization to bronze reproductions. When he died, the right to sign his name died, too."
Arseneau said despite Rodin's death in 1917, the Cantor Foundation continues to sign his name and make reproductions of his work.
"The museum acknowledges that they make posthumous plasters," he said. "They are second-generation reproduction fakes. It's not a reproduction of an original, it's a reproduction of a reproduction. A counterfeit signature impeaches the whole process."
Sobol said the signatures are legitimate.
"When you make a bronze, you have to put a signature on the original," she said. "You start with a wax model and the signature goes from the wax to the model. He signed all of the original waxes.
"He didn't make the bronzes, he made the wax."
Aresenau gave the example of the Rodin sculpture, "The Martyr." It was sculpted with no base, but later was displayed with a base at a California museum.
"In 1947, it had no base, but in 1999, a base suddenly appeared with his signature," he said. "That can only mean he's alive."
Arseneau also said the Cantor Foundation violates French law, which limited the number of reproductions to 12 after Rodin's death.
Sobol said the limitation wasn't established until recently.
"During his own lifetime, Rodin didn't limit anything," she said. "He would give a piece to a friend and tell them to keep casting it as long as there was someone to buy it."
Aresenau said the Cantor Foundation gains respect through its deceit of museums nationwide.
"They buy them and launder them through to gain a sense of prominence and authenticity," he said. "Every museum it goes through gives it more authenticity. It's a tax laundering scheme."
Render said he feels assured that the Cantor Foundation is legitimate.
"Because of their reputation — we check it out ahead of time, so we know," he said.
Sobol said the Canton Foundation is legitimate and hopes to help others experience the beauty of art.
"Rodin made it very complicated for us," she said. "It gets very complicated. What's important is Rodin authorized these sculptures to be made, and they are remarkable achievements."
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