Tuesday, December 19, 2006

5 Days to Christmas!!

Everyone's still trying to recover from the work Christmas party - the pictures were posted on the intranet today, so everyone's embarrassment was relived. It was v. entertaining.

Continuing in the Christmas party vein, I'm off to the Ickworth staff party tomorrow night. I haven't seen most of the guys in quite a while, so I'm really excited.

Oh, my friend found this on the New York Times...it's an article about a Colby alum who I was friends with freshman year - he's 'invented his own scholarly field.' Lucky him! Here's the link. It's required reading for the Colby grads.

Oh, and Andrea's friend Rebeka introduced me to Epicurious - it's a whole world of recipes, waiting to be discovered.

UPDATE: Apparently the permalink is having problems...here's the beginning of the article.

Noah Charney hasn’t stolen a major artwork, as far as is known, but he gives it lots of thought. I met him one day last spring in Rome, in a cool, shadowy side chapel of the church of San Francesco a Ripa on the west bank of the Tiber. He stood with his hands clasped reverently before him, gazing at Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s statue of the Blessed Ludovica Albertoni. Bernini seems to have caught the pious mystic just as she passes to her great reward; she lies prostrate on a tousled bed of marble and jasper, her back arched, her eyes slitted, her lips parted and her right hand pressed to her breast in an ecstasy of divine transport that, as more than one critic has observed, resembles a far earthier kind of ecstasy. “I’ve spent hundreds of hours here with Ludovica,” Charney said, less to me than to the statue, about which he wrote his master’s thesis in art history in 2003. “We have a special relationship. I want her in my living room!”

Charney, a slender, courtly 27-year-old from New Haven with a back-swept mane of jet black hair, pointed out details in the statue and the ormolu molding around it that suggest an inner meaning few observers have perceived: a pomegranate and a flaming heart, which signify Ludovica’s passionate love of God, and her shoes, which prove that she isn’t on her deathbed, as most people have assumed, but is experiencing the fierce, heart-melting heat of divine rapture. “A lot of art history is detective work,” Charney told me. “Instead of just staring at a piece, you’re studying it and gathering information.”

Then, with the same probing eye, he noted what for him were even more essential qualities of the statue: how it might be stolen and by whom. The nearby window, the old-model motion sensors and the doubtless un-manned surveillance cameras would all facilitate theft. Yet the stature of the Blessed Ludovica herself, a cool ton or so of stone, would give any thief pause. “To get her out of here, you’d really have to be obsessed,” he said. Then again, he reckoned someone who was truly smitten with the work could find a way to pinch it. “And if Ludovica were ever stolen,” he said, “I’d be the first suspect.”

Charney is completing a doctorate at Cambridge University in a field he appears to have invented: the use of art history, combined with the more conventional tools of criminology, psychology and deductive logic, to help solve modern-day art thefts and to prevent future art crimes. The stolen-art trade is now an international industry valued as high as $6 billion per year, the third-largest black market behind drugs and arms trafficking. Yet the solution rate in art crime is reported to be a startlingly low 10 percent. Investigations are hampered by the cult of secrecy within the art world itself — museums sometimes don’t report thefts, fearing to reveal their vulnerability to future crimes and thereby hurt their chances of receiving new donations. “The art trade is the least transparent and least regulated commercial activity in the world,” says Julian Radcliffe, chairman of the Art Loss Register, a London-based company that maintains a leading database of stolen artworks.

Charney wants to cut through this murk by treating art theft as a scholarly discipline, drawing on a wide range of sources in an attempt to reach the first unbiased, statistically based conclusions about the nature of the crime. He has reviewed police files of art crimes in Europe and the United States from the 19th and early 20th centuries, looking for ways that past thefts might illuminate current trends, and he has questioned investigators from the F.B.I., Scotland Yard, the Spanish PolicĂ­a and the Italian Carabinieri about their often distinctive attitudes and crime-solving methods and about the different cultural and bureaucratic barriers that each force encounters. Charney has explored the legal aspects of art ownership, sale and copyright by consulting with lawyers, federal prosecutors and art insurers, seeking to chart the complex currents in the flow of stolen art worldwide and to understand how laws in certain countries smooth the passage of stolen pieces into the legitimate market.


C said...

Hey, I'm not registered for the NY Times so I can't read that article. Any way you could paste it into an email for me? You've peaked my curiosity.

StowmarKate said...

Argh...it's supposed to be a permalink. I'll try and fix it.