Respondent
Arkus, Leon Anthony
Interview Date
1992
Abstract
[T1S1] Promising and accomplished local artists are enumerated; Respondent's views on categorizing artists, exhibiting local talent and disregarding art criticism are stated. Argument with John Walker on decreasing the artists shown in the Carnegie International is recounted. Critics' ridicule of the International's modern art is described. Discord with the board of trustees over Respondent's purchases is noted. Respondent illustrates the astute criticism of Henry McBride and discusses local art critics. Respondent's enthusiasm for Pittsburgh is explained; the leadership of local music organizations is discussed.
[T1S2] Respondent recounts the financial support of Pittsburgh collectors in purchasing works by De Kooning and Pollock for the Carnegie. Respondent comments on the present-day avant-garde and relates the board's aversion to nudes. Andrew Carnegie's purpose for initiating the International is discussed and explained; the merit of awarding prizes is questioned. Respondent's reasons for discontinuing the International are related. Views on the selection, appreciation, exhibition and creation of art are mentioned. Reaction to Respondent's solo artist exhibitions is reported.
[T2S3] Abilities and personality of Gordon Washburn are depicted. Atmosphere at symphony in 1940s Palestine is recounted. Respondent recounts the first tasks of reordering the exhibition halls and enhancing the collection. Institute's original emphasis on natural history is noted. Donations of local collectors to the Museum are discussed; the generosity of Charles Rosenbloom is recounted. Respondent reports brother's work and family.
[T2S4] Subjects and directors of exhibitions in 1939 are mentioned. Respondent relates impetus for, and success of, wartime El Greco exhibition. Unrealized program for exhibition of art in the Soviet Union to have been sponsored by Joseph Davies is extensively recounted. Filthiness of Iran in the 1940s is illustrated; opposition to charitable medical treatment is related.
[T3S5] Effect upon Respondent of viewing Shah's gem collection is described. Respondent notes the ambience of Teheran, Iranian associates in New York and duties as liaison for American scientists visiting Iran. Respondent mentions risks in purchasing art. Conversation with Norman Rockwell is related. Respondent comments upon work of Remington and Russell. Respondent's mother is characterized; mother's family's art gallery in Paris is indicated.
[T3S6] Mother's encouragement of individuality is illustrated. Father's family's religious background and own lack of religious training are reported. Family's residence in New York is specified. Respondent briefly contrasts the awareness of Jewish identity in New York and Pittsburgh. Respondent notes Jewish directors of museums and the effectual anti-Semitism of Paul Sachs. Respondent illustrates the cultural background of Charles Rosenbloom and the principle of Alex Lowenthal. Respondent's disagreement with William Block regarding the Manchester Bridge's destruction is outlined.
[T4S7] Respondent recounts incident with misleading headline and review. Mrs. Sarah Scaife is extensively characterized. Respondent's initial purchase for Mrs. Scaife is recounted, as is Mrs. Scaife's defense of Respondent's purchasing policy. Respondent illustrates Scaife's lack of pretense and her depth of emotion. Importance of Scaife's donations and changes upon her death are noted.
[T4S8] Richard Scaife is characterized. Political maneuvering in museum administration is criticized. Process of developing an exhibition is outlined; Respondent's views on appropriate exhibit themes and museum education are illustrated. Circumstances of John Heinz's donation to the Carnegie are related. Respondent's thoughts on appreciation of particular artists' work are noted. Respondent concisely expresses attitude toward academic art and on the role of museums.
[T5S9] Bypass of Pittsburgh by touring exhibits are explained; Respondent expresses his opposition to vast shows. Respondent explains his encouragement of and assesses success of development of local collections. Respondent's concept for an unrealized exhibit of Jewish medieval manuscripts is described. Work of Mattress Factory and the quality of Frick's memorial at Clayton are commented upon.
[T5S10] Initial projects and funding of the Pittsburgh Plan for Art are extensively enumerated. Changes in the Plan for Art's leadership and direction are outlined and its demise is explained. Concepts for use of space provided to the Cultural Trust are explained. Respondent reports nature of and interest in work as counselor of art collectors and artists. Topics of Respondent's writings and Respondent's attitudes toward perfectionism are related. Local artists about whom Respondent is enthusiastic are enumerated.
[T6S11] Respondent recounts idea for public sculpture in the Downtown. Pittsburgh's skyline is commented upon. Respondent notes regrets in life and comments upon quality of personal relationships following WWII. Respondent assesses his career at the Carnegie Museum. Respondent's satisfaction with building and expresses appreciation of craftsmanship. Respondent notes attitude toward life.
Subjects
Artists; Arts; Carnegie Institute; Museums; Carnegie Museum of Art; Frick Art Museum (Pittsburgh, Pa.); Mattress Factory; Rosenberg, Charles J., 1898-1973; Scaife, Richard; Scaife, Sarah; World War, 1939-1945
Length (hours)
5.5
Interviewer1
Menlowe, Mildred
Interviewer2
Winer, Ruth
Collateral Materials
Box 100 FF 11
Identifier
ais196440.021
Rights
All rights reserved. University of Pittsburgh