Saturday, May 3, 2008

Currier & Ives -CANARD- , over 168 years of non-disclosed chromist-made reproductions misrepresented as lithographs

Updated: September 18, 2008 with email correspondence, -below monograph-, to and from WGBY General Manager

NOTE: Footnotes are enclosed with [FN ].









Awful Conflagration of the Steam Boat 'Lexington' in Long Island Sound, Listed, below the image, as: "Drawn by W. K. dewitt - N. Currier Lith. & Pub. 2 Spruce S. N. Y." [FN 1]


Currier & Ives lithographs are a canard.

On page 196 of The Random House College Dictionary, -canard- is defined as: "a false story, report, or rumor, usually derogatory; hoax."
 [FN 2]

Currier & Ives lithographs are actually non-disclosed chromist-made reproductions.


A chromist is someone who copies by their own hand a reproduction of the artist's original work of visual art. [FN 3] Reproduction, by definition, is a copy of an original work of visual art that is done by someone other than the artist. [FN 4]

An early and prime example of a Currier & Ives' non-disclosed chromist-made reproduction is the above titled "Lexington." Despite being printed below the image as "Drawn by W.K. dewitt," it was actually drawn by the chromist Napoleon Sarony in 1840.This fact is confirmed in the Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People by Harry T. Peters. On pages 13 and 14, the author wrote: "Napoleon Sarony achieved his fame in activities other than his work for Currier & Ives, but early in his career he was employed as a lithographer by Nathaniel Currier - Sarony's most important work for Currier was the famous Lexington print, which he designed." [FN 5]

This perspective that Currier & Ives's so-called "lithographs" are actually non-disclosed chromist-made reproductions is additionally confirmed throughout the Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc.'s published 1942 Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People by Harry T. Peters. For example on page 18, the author wrote: "It may seem strange that in discussing the work of Currier & Ives so little has been said about the artists whose drawings and paintings the firm reproduced. - The fact that they reproduced the work of many of the most prominent artists of the day - They hired the best artists and lithographers." [FN 6]

CONTRADICTION
"A statement that contradicts or denies another or itself and is logically incongruous" is one definition of "contradiction" found on page 292 of The Random House College Dictionary.

So, when Nathaniel Currier reproduces the Lexington as "Drawn by W. K. dewitt" but published historical references say his employee "Napoleon Sarony" actually "designed" it, what are we to make of such a contradiction?


This monograph will briefly document these contentious issues of authenticity and contradictions.

WHAT IS A LITHOGRAPH?On the International Fine Print Dealers Association's 2008 website, -lithography- is defined as: "Literally, 'stone drawing,' the artist draws or paints the composition on the flat surface of a stone with a greasy crayon or liquid. The design is chemically fixed on the stone with a weak solution of acid and gum arabic. In printing, the stone is flooded with water which is absorbed everywhere except where repelled by the greasy ink. Oil-based printer's ink is then rolled on the stone, which is repelled in turn by the water soaked areas and accepted only by the drawn design. The stone is then run through the press with paper under light pressure, the final print showing neither a raised nor embossed quality but lying entirely on the surface of the paper." [FN 7]

This perspective is also confirmed in the 1965 A GUIDE TO THE COLLECTING AND CARE OF ORIGINAL PRINTS sponsored by the The Print Council of America and authored by Carl Zigrosser and Christa M. Gaehde. On page 98, the authors wrote: “An original print is a work of art, the general requirements of which are: 1. The artist alone has created the master image in or upon the plate, stone, wood block or other material, for the purpose of creating the print. 2. The print is made from the said material, by the artist or pursuant to his directions. 3. The finished print is approved by the artist.” [FN 8]

U.S. CUSTOMS REGULATIONS

Additionally, in the 21st-century, under April 2006 U.S. Customs' Informed Compliance regulations, lithographs "must be wholly executed by hand by the artist" [FN 9] and "excludes mechanical and photomechanical reproduction." [FN 10]

In other words, by definition and law, lithographs are original works of visual art created by an artist and would -never- be trivialized as reproduced from a pre-existing work of visual art such as a drawing or painting.

WHAT IS A REPRODUCTION?

On page 350 in the 1991 HarperCollins Dictionary of Art Terms & Techniques by Ralph Mayer, the term “reproduction” is defined as: “A general term for any copy, likeness, or counterpart of an original work of art or of a photograph, done in the same medium as the original or in another, and done by someone other than the creator of the original.” [FN 11]Additionally, on page 574 in the 1991 The Fifth Edition of the Artist’s Handbook of Materials and Techniques by Ralph Mayer, the author wrote: “The major traditional graphic-arts processes of long standing and continued popularity are lithograph, etching, drypoint, woodcutting or wood engraving, aquatint, and soft-ground etching. ...The term “graphic arts” excludes all forms of mechanically reproduced works photographed or redrawn on plates; all processes in which the artist did not participate to his or her fullest capacity are reproductions.” [FN 12]

U. S. COPYRIGHT LAW

Furthermore, in the 21st-century under U.S. Copyright Law 103, the "copyright in a compilation or derivative work extends only to the material contributed by the author of such work" [FN 13] and under U.S. Copyright Law 106a, the "Right of Attribution - shall not apply to a reproduction." [FN 14]

What that means is the printer would own the reproductions rights to the derivatives they reproduced from the artist's original artwork.

PRINTING TRADE CUSTOMS

This perspective is confirmed by the Printing Industries of America, Inc. in their 21st-century published Printing Trade Customs, which, in part, states: “6. PREPARATORY MATERIALS Working mechanical art, type, negatives, positives, flats, plates, and other items when supplied by the printer, shall remain his exclusive property unless otherwise agreed in writing.” [FN 15]


So, what is true in the 21st-century was actually practiced by Nathaniel Currier in the 19th-century. On page 6 in the Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People, the author Harry T. Peters wrote: "The first entry by N. Currier in the copyright records in Washington is under 1838 and the next in 1840. Undoubtedly during this early period Currier produced a number of prints that he did not copyright, his work not having become sufficently popular to necessitate that precaution." [FN 16]

NATHANIEL CURRIER, PRINTER & PUBLISHER
In the Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc.'s published 1942 Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People by Harry T. Peters, the author wrote on page 5 that in 1828, at the age of 15, Nathaniel Currier became an apprentice for the William S. & John Pendleton of Boston, an American commercial lithography firm.[FN 17] Five years later Currier went to Philadelphia to work with master lithographer M.E.D. Brown.[FN 18] In 1834, Nathaniel Currier moved to New York and went into partnership with Stodart which last only one year.[FN 19] Despite Currier & Ives letterheads stating “Founded in 1834,” Nathaniel Currier established his own business in 1835 at 1 Wall Street in New York. [FN 20]

In other words, Nathaniel Currier was not only a publisher of non-disclosed chromist-made reproductions but early on was a printer of some of these non-disclosed chromist-made reproductions his "Currier & Ives" firm became famous for as lithographs.

JAMES MERRITT, BOOKKEEPER & PARTNER
Hired initially as a bookkeeper for Nathaniel Currier in 1852, James Merritt Ives became his partner five years later in part because as the Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People author Harry T. Peters wrote: “[James Ives] showed himself to be unusually adept in showing how an idea could be used to best advantage. His criticism of sketches was keen, and he was clever at combining features from various sketches into well-designed composite whole. This was a frequent Currier & Ives device, many of the prints being the work of more than one artist.”[FN 21]
Four Seasons of Life, Childhood, Listed, in print below the image, as: "J. M. Ives, Del. - {Entered according to Act of Congress in the year AO 1868, by Currier & Ives in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York} - Drawn by F. F. Palmer & J. Cameron"[FN 22]

IVES REVEALS HIS SKILLFUL DRAFTMANSHIP
Additionally, on page 8 of Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People by Harry T. Peters, the author wrote: “[James Merritt Ives] learned lithography and after entering Currier’s employ occasionally worked on stones himself. His work on the fourth plate of the delightful folio series, “The Four Seasons of Life,” reveals his skillful draftsmanship.”
[FN 23]

YET LISTED AS DRAWN BY F. F. PALMER & J. CAMERON
As a partner in the Currier & Ives firm, as noted earlier, James Merritt Ives' keen and clever perspective may have shaped many of the images reproduced but what ever contribution he may have made by his hand to "The Four Seasons of Life, Childhood," attribution, printed below the image, was given to the chromists as: "Drawn by F.F. Palmer and J. Cameron."
[FN 24]

CONTRADICTION

Once again, "a statement that contradicts or denies another or itself and is logically incongruous" is one definition of "contradiction" found on page 292 of The Random House College Dictionary.

So, when Nathaniel Currier and his partner James Merritt Ives reproduces "The Four Seasons of Life" as "Drawn by F. F. Palmer and J. Cameron" but published historical references say his partner "James Merritt Ives" actually "work[ed]" on it, what are we to make of such a contradiction?


The Wreck of the Steamship San Francisco, Listed, in print below image, as: "Paint. by F. E. Butterworth - Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1854, by Currier & Ives in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District of New York - Litho. by N. Currier"[FN 25]

CHARLES PARSON, CHROMIST
On page 30,
of Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People by Harry T. Peters, the author wrote: “Parsons would deserve special mention as a Currier & Ives artist. We have already seen that in order to secure his services as lithographer for some of the Tait oil paintings Currier & Ives were willing to farm out work to Endicott & Company, for whom he worked."[FN 26]

Remember, a chromist is someone who reproduces by their own hand a reproduction of the artist's original work of visual art. Reproduction, by definition, is a copy of an original work of visual art that is done by someone other than the artist.

A prime example of the chromist Charles Parson's -ghostdrawing- images attributed to another is the above The Wreck of the Steamship San Francisco, listed, in print below image, as: "Paint. by F. E. Butterworth."[FN 27]

This attribution is contradicted by Harry T. Peters on page 31 in his Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People book. In part, the author wrote: "James E. Butterworth, an Englishman by birth, was a marine artist of note, and many of his fine clipper-ship paintings were reproduced by Currier & Ives, with Charles Parsons frequently doing the lithographer. Three of Butterworth's outstanding prints reproduced here are Clipper Ship 'Flying Cloud', Clipper Ship 'Great Republic', and the forceful The Wreck of the Steam Ship 'San Francisco'. [FN 28]

CONTRADICTION

Once again, "a statement that contradicts or denies another or itself and is logically incongruous" is one definition of "contradiction" found on page 292 of The Random House College Dictionary.

So, when Nathaniel Currier reproduces
The Wreck of the Steamship San Francisco as "Paint. by F. E. Butterworth" but published historical references say his employee "Charles Parson frequently doing the lithographer," what are we to make of such a contradiction?


"From Nature and on Stone by F. F. Palmer - Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1852, by N. Currier in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District of N. Y. - Lith. by Currier & Ives, N. Y."[FN 29]

FANNY PALMER, SKETCHER"It is impossible to establish accurately the number of Currier & Ives prints to which Fanny Palmer contributed, but it was enormous."[FN 30] wrote Harry T. Peters on page 27 in his book Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People.

What was Fanny Palmer's "enormous" contribution to Currier & Ives?

On page 27 and 28, Harry T. Peters wrote: "Mrs Palmer specialized in securing atmosphere and background. She would be driven in Currier's carriage out into Long Island, where she would sketch rapidly all types of rural and suburban scenery. She often sketched on both sides of the paper, using a soft pencil. Often there would be two different treatments of the same scene, features from both of which would be used in the finished prints. Country scenes, lanes and cottages, toll gates, mills and farmhouses are among the most familar of her works."
[FN 31]

"Trolling for Blue Fish by F. F. Palmer - Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1886, by Currier & Ives in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States of the Southern District of N. Y. - Currier & Ives, Lith. N. Y."[FN 32]

FANNY PALMER, CHROMIST
On page 24, in Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People, the author Harry T. Peters wrote: "Evidence of [Thomas] Worth's intimate knowledge of fishing and salt-water sailing is shown in the print "Tolling for Blue Fish," the background of which was done by Fanny Palmer, who signed the print."[FN 33]

CONTRADICTION
Once again, "a statement that contradicts or denies another or itself and is logically incongruous" is one definition of "contradiction" found on page 292 of The Random House College Dictionary.

So, when Nathaniel Currier and his partner James Merritt Ives reproduces
Trolling for Blue Fish with their employee's "F. F. Palmer"[FN 34] name attached but published historical references document that the chromist just did the background with no mention of the "contributions of [the artist] Thomas Worth,"[FN 35] such as the "catboat was drawn by Worth,"[FN 36] what are we to make of such contradictions?

FANNY PALMER, COLORIST
Additionally, on page 28, Harry T. Peters wrote: "It will be remembered that Fanny Palmer frequently colored the models that were followed by the colorists."
[FN 37]

Who were these colorists?


HAND-COLORED BY TRAINED COLORISTS
On page 14, of Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People, the author Harry T. Peters wrote: “It has come as a surprise to many dealers and collectors to learn that all Currier & Ives prints were hand-colored. They were neither lithographed in color nor printed in color, but lithographed and printed in one color ink and colored by hand afterward. - In the Currier & Ives shop the stock prints were colored by a staff or about twelve young women, all trained colorists and mostly of German descent. They worked at long tables from a model set up in the middle of the the table, where it was visible to all. The models, many of which were colored by Louis Maurer and Fanny Palmer, were all first approved by one of the partners. Each colorist applied only one color and, when she had finished, passed the print on to the next worker, and so on until it was fully colored. The print would then go the woman in charge, known as the “finisher,” who would touch it up where necessary. The colors used were imported from Austria and were the finest available, especially valued because they did not fade in the light.”[FN 38]

Additionally, the author wrote: ‘When large numbers of the rush stock prints were needed, extra help was called in. Then stencils would be cut for the various colors and the extras would wash in the colors. The prints could then be touched up by the regular girls. The larger folios were sent out in lots with models to regular colorists who worked outside the shop. Usually twelve prints from one of the large folio plates were sent out at a time. These outside colorists were often indigent young artists who earned a modest living at this kind of work while awaiting the recognition of their own work. The pay was surely modest enough. Currier & Ives paid one cent apiece to colorist for the small prints, and one dollar for coloring twelve of the large folios.”[FN 39]

JAMES CAMERON, CHROMIST
On page 13 of Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People by Harry T. Peters, the author wrote: “John Cameron was a regular Currier & Ives employee over a long period of years. He was a hunchback and a fondness for drink, but his work was of very high quality and his output very large. Even after ill health confined him to his home on Long Island, stones were sent out to him to work on there. Although his name appears as artist of some of the jointly designed prints, he was only a lithographer.”[FN 40]

What does the author Harry T. Peters mean by "lithographer?"

Since James Cameron's ill health would preclude him from laboriously printing Currier & Ives reproductions, not to mention it was unlikely he would have a lithographic press and all the necessary tools, chemicals and the like at his home, Harry T. Peters' reference that prepared limestone blocks where brought to James Cameron "to work on" is a clear indicator that he was a chromist for the Currier & Ives firm.Once again, remember, a chromist is someone who reproduces by their own hand a reproduction of the artist's original work of visual art. Reproduction, by definition, is a copy of an original work of visual art that is done by someone other than the artist.

The artist Thomas Worth's original drawing titled: A Mule Train on an Up Grade.[FN 41]













The chromist James Cameron's reproduction titled: A Mule Train on an Up Grade of Thomas Worth's original drawing.[FN 42]

CAMERON REDID WORTH'S DRAWINGS ON STONE
This chromist-made reproduction perspective is confirmed on page 15 of Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People by Harry T. Peters, when the author wrote: “Notes on some of the original drawings for the Thomas Worth cartoons are enlightening too. The original of “A Mule [Train] on an Up Grade” bears the following on the left-hand margin: ‘Mr. Cameron: Let the woman’s foot come between the mule’s forefoot so as to show his brace against her better. The child is meant to be wrapped up in a mattress. You need not put words ‘The Kansas’ on the rock.’ Here is proof beyond doubt that Cameron redid the Worth comics for the stone."[FN 43]

This perspecitive is additionally confirmed on page 23
of Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People by Harry T. Peters, where the author wrote: "The comics by no means represented Thomas Worth's best work. The originals of the comics were wash drawings, pen-and-ink sketches and pencil sketches. They were often very rough, and much of the real work was left to the lithographer."[FN 44]

Now, you will notice above that Thomas Worth has signed his original drawing in lower right corner but James Cameron chromist-made reproduction also has what appears to be a Thomas Worth' signature applied in the same spot. The only problem, as documented, the chromist James Cameron drew the reproduction.

So, did Thomas Worth deceptively signed a chromist-made reproduction he did not make or was his signature applied to the stone in reverse so it would be reproduced left to right to create the illusion he either signed it and/or much less made it?



CONTRADICTION
Once again, "a statement that contradicts or denies another or itself and is logically incongruous" is one definition of -contradiction- found on page 292 of The Random House College Dictionary.

So, when Nathaniel Currier reproduces the
"A Mule Train on an Up Grade" with "Thomas Worth" signature applied but published historical references say his employee "[James] Cameron redid the Worth comics for the stone" what are we to make of such a contradiction?


The artist Thomas Worth's original drawing titled: Trotting Crack at the Forge.[FN 45]












The chromist reproduction titled: "Trotting Crack at the Forge" of Thomas Worth's original drawing.[FN 46]

MUCH OF THE REAL WORK WAS LEFT TO THE LITHOGRAPHER
On page 23,
of Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People, the author Harry T. Peters wrote: “The comics by no means represented Thomas Worth’s best work. The originals of the comics were wash drawings, pen-and-ink sketches, and pencil sketches. They were often very rough, and much of the real work was left to the lithographer. Much finer was his work for the trotting-horse-prints. Among the best is the rare “Trotting Cracks’ at the Forge,” the original Worth drawing for which is reproduced here.”[FN 47]

Aside the obvious that it was -reproduced-, compare Thomas Worth's best "work" ie. drawing with chromist's reproduction of it. Even if we accept chromist's best effort to reproduce it, they are not the same by a country mile.



CONTRADICTION
Once again, "a statement that contradicts or denies another or itself and is logically incongruous" is one definition of -contradiction- found on page 292 of The Random House College Dictionary.

So, when Nathaniel Currier and his partner James Merritt Ives reproduces
Trotting Cracks at the Forge as being from one of Thomas Worth's best drawings but published historical references say "much of the real work was left to the lithographer" ie. Currier & Ives employees, what are we to make of such a contradiction?

Catching a Trout, ‘We hab you now, sar!’ with the following printed type below the image right and left corner: "Painted by A. F. Tait" and "Lith. by N. Currier, N.Y."[FN 48]

OTTO KNIRSCH, CHROMIST

On page 26,
of Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People, the author Harry T. Peters wrote: Catching a Trout, ‘We hab you now, sar!’ 1854, which Otto Knirsch lithographed. It is unfortunate that these two did not work in combination oftener, for Knirsch has reproduced all the quality and movement of the Tait canvas on the stone.”[FN 49]

CONTRADICTION
Once again, "a statement that contradicts or denies another or itself and is logically incongruous" is one definition of -contradiction- found on page 292 of The Random House College Dictionary.

So, when Nathaniel Currier and his partner James Merritt Ives reproduces
Catching a Trout, ‘We hab you now, sar! and "Painted by A. F. Trait" is printed below the image but published historical references say his employee "Otto Knirsch" actually "reproduced" it on the stone used for printing, what are we to make of such a contradiction?

ARTHUR FITZWILLIAM TAIT, PAINTER
On page 24,
of Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People, the author Harry T. Peters wrote: “There was probably no finer artist among those whose work was reproduced by Currier & Ives than Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait. - [Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait’s] paintings were reproduced with great precision and care. Few liberties were taken with his originals."[FN 50]

DEPLORES THE APPEARANCE OF THE NAME OF THE LITHOGRAPHER
That assertion is contradicted later on pages 24-25 when the author wrote: “[Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait’s] was never employed by Currier & Ives, and he does not seem always to have thought willingly of his work as material for reproduction. His correspondence with the firm over a period of years reveals that he was not always satisfied either with the way his pictures were reproduced or indeed with the idea that they should be reproduced at all. In one letter to Currier, Tait objects rather strenously, to the fact that some details have been eliminated in the lithographing of his last painting. In another he complains bitterly that the sale of the lithographs has very much interfered with the sale of his paintings, going on to say that his work will largely have to be influenced by its reproduction value. Again he deplores the appearance of the name of the lithographer in as prominent a position as his own, stating very definitely that to the artist and creator belong the honors, no matter how good the lithographer’s art may be.”
[FN 51]

CONTRADICTION
Once again, "a statement that contradicts or denies another or itself and is logically incongruous" is one definition of -contradiction- found on page 292 of The Random House College Dictionary.

So, when Nathaniel Currier and his partner James Merritt Ives reproduces
Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait’s paintings "with few liberties" but it is documented that the artist "Tait objects rather strenously, to the fact that some details have been eliminated in the lithographing of his last painting," what are we to make of such a contradiction?

OTHER CURRIER & IVES CHROMISTS
On page 12 and 13 in
Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People, the author Harry T. Peters notes other "lithographers" ie. chromists that work for Currier & Ives such as Louis Mauer who "lithographed - 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'" taken from an "English engraving of the time," Franz Venino who specialty was heads, faces and cartoons, C. Severin who "lithographed - 'Peytona and Fashion' - 'Husking'" and J. Schultz, not to mention many more not listed here.[FN 52]



REPRODUCTIONS ARE REPRODUCTIONS, NO MATTER WHAT CENTURY
On page 3 in Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People, Harry T. Peters wrote: "Some knowledge of the process by which the Currier & Ives prints were reproduced - for a complete understanding and appreciation of the prints themselves."[FN 53]

CONTRADICTION
Once again, "a statement that contradicts or denies another or itself and is logically incongruous" is one definition of -contradiction- found on page 292 of The Random House College Dictionary.

So, when Nathaniel Currier and his partner James Merritt Ives reproduces
the artist's work and calls them lithographs instead of reproductions, what are we to make of such a contradiction?

"Winter in the Country. Getting Ice, 1864, Hand-colored lithograph by Nathaniel Currier (1813-1888) and James Ives (1824-1895), Gift of Lenore B. and Sidney A. Alpert supplemented with Museum of Fine Arts Collections Funds 2004.D03.539"[FN 54]

WGBY'S "CURRIER & IVES: PERSPECTIVES ON AMERICA"
On WGBY's
www.currierandives.org/about.html website, it states: “'Currier & Ives: Perspectives on America' is a collaborative project combining the strengths of the partner institutions – the Springfield Museums, WGBY Public Television for Western New England, Bay Path College and the Cooperating Colleges of Greater Springfield, Springfield Public Schools, and Newspaper in Education at The Republican– to enhance the impact of a collection of 787 hand-colored nineteenth-century Currier & Ives lithographs acquired by the Springfield Museums."

One those so-called "hand-colored nineteenth-century Currier & Ives lithographs" is listed on
WGBY's website, as: "Winter in the Country. Getting Ice, 1864, Hand-colored lithograph by Nathaniel Currier and James Ives."[FN 55]

The only problem is on the lower left hand corner of the image, it states: "Painted by G. H. Durrie."
[FN 56]

Unfortunately, that attribution, to G. H. Durrie, is even contradicted in Harry T. Peters'
Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People. On page 29, the author wrote: "A Favorite Currier & Ives artist for many collectors is George Henry Durrie, Currier & Ives reproduced comparatively few of his paintings."[FN 57]

Additionally, confirming its' reproduction, the author states: "Equally interesting and even finer from an artistic point of view is the lovely Winter in the Country. Getting Ice. This print is now very rare and high in price, although twenty years ago copies could be bought for ten or twenty dollars."
[FN 58]

CONTRADICTION
Once again, "a statement that contradicts or denies another or itself and is logically incongruous" is one definition of -contradiction- found on page 292 of The Random House College Dictionary.

So, when Nathaniel Currier and his partner James Merritt Ives reproduces "
Winter in the Country - Getting Ice" as "Painted by G. H. Durrie" in 1864 and then 144 year later WGBY, a Public Broadcasting Station promotes it as now being a "Hand-colored lithograph by Nathaniel Currier and James Ives" when in fact Currier & Ives had hired a small army of ladies mostly of German descent to do the hand-coloring, what are we to make of such contradictions?

NEITHER HE NOR NATHANIEL CURRIER WAS AN ARTIST
Surprisingly, WGBY on its' www.currierandives.org/faq.html website, backhandedly confirms there is no such thing as a Currier & Ives lithograph, when
it states: 'Though James Ives designed a series of prints published by the firm, neither he nor Nathaniel Currier was an artist. Instead, the men employed artists and lithographers to create images and also purchased designs from independent artists."[FN 59]

CONTRADICTION
Once again, "a statement that contradicts or denies another or itself and is logically incongruous" is one definition of -contradiction- found on page 292 of The Random House College Dictionary.

So, when WGBY promotes them as one thing and the facts contradicts their promotion,
what are we to make of such a contradiction?

WHAT IS CONNOISSEURSHIP?
In Paul Duro & Michael Greenhalgh’s published Essential Art History, -connoisseurship- is defined as: “that of the art expert able to distinguish between the authentic and non-authentic, for example between an original and a copy.”


  • Item Number: 34503
  • Title: Catching A Trout. "We hab you now sar"
  • Artist: Arthur Tait
  • Category: Currier & Ives > Sports & Games > Fishing
  • Publisher: New York Published By. N. Currier 152 Nassau Street.
  • Medium Used: Lithograph,
  • Year: 1854.
  • Size: Image size 18 x 25 1/2"
  • Condition: Good condition and color.
  • Price: $8,500.00 Add To Basket[FN 60]


THE OLD PRINT SHOP
The above is one of a so-called Currier & Ives lithographs being offered for sale through the Old Print Shop in New York City. WBGY recommends them as somewhere to "find out more about Currier & Ives."[FN 61]


CONTRADICTIONOnce again, "a statement that contradicts or denies another or itself and is logically incongruous" is one definition of -contradiction- found on page 292 of The Random House College Dictionary.

So, as documented earlier when Nathaniel Currier reproduced
Catching A Trout. We hab you now sar as "Painted by A. F. Trait" but failed to disclose that chromist Otto Knirsch[FN 62] was actually the one who drew by his hand the image on the stone and now The Old Print Shop is promoting the same misinformation, what are we to make of such a contradiction?

Date: undated
Artists: Currier, Nathaniel
Date of Artists: Drawn by W.K. Dewitt
Medium: hand-colored lithograph
Measurements: overall - 14 w x 9 3/4 h folio - S
Access Number: 2004-D03-044

Gift of Lenore B. and Sidney A. Alpert supplemented with Museum Acquistions Funds
[FN 63]
SPRINGFIELD MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS
The above is one of a so-called Currier & Ives lithographs in the Springfield Museum of Fine Art's' collection. WGBY recommends that the "Springfield Museum of Fine Art" has a resource center devoted to Currier & Ives where visitors can research their print through books, publications and a computer database."[FN 64]CONTRADICTION
"A statement that contradicts or denies another or itself and is logically incongruous" is one definition of -contradiction- found on page 292 of The Random House College Dictionary.

So, when Nathaniel Currier reproduces the Lexington as "Drawn by W. K. dewitt" but published historical references say his employee "Napoleon Sarony" actually "designed"
[FN 65] it, and now the Springfield Museum of Art is promoting this same misinformation that it was drawn by W. K. Dewitt, what are we to make of such a contradiction?


THE CURRIER & IVES FOUNDATION
WGBY recommends the Currier & Ives Foundation website as: "the leading online reference resource about Currier & Ives."
[FN 66]

On the Currier & Ives Foundation's www.geocities.com/scurrier/ website, it stated: "From 1834 till 1907, The print shop "Currier & Ives" produced in excess of 1 million lithographs which included more than 7500 different titles."[FN 67]

CONTRADICTION
"A statement that contradicts or denies another or itself and is logically incongruous" is one definition of -contradiction- found on page 292 of The Random House College Dictionary.

Since
lithographs "must be wholly executed by hand by the artist" and "exclude any mechanical and photomechanical processes," much less Currier & Ives chromists, what are we to make of such a contradiction of the "print shop Currier & Ives producing 1 million lithographs?"

WHAT IS CONNOISSEURSHIP?
Once again, in Paul Duro & Michael Greenhalgh’s published Essential Art History, -connoisseurship- is defined as: “that of the art expert able to distinguish between the authentic and non-authentic, for example between an original and a copy.”


Unfortunately, too many in the art industry are not, at best, connoisseurs before they start a foundation, open a gallery or museum, much less produce a documentary for television.



CONCLUSION
What needs to be accomplished is the full and honest disclosure of “reproductions” as -reproductions- by all museums, auction houses, academia, galleries and art dealers, not to mention the news media. If the WGBY, Springfield Museum of Art and others, involved with so-called "Currier & Ives lithographs" much less with the WGBY's “Currier & Ives: Perspectives on America” project, will give full and honest disclosure to all “reproductions” as: -reproductions-, it would allow consumer the potential to give informed consent on whether to watch a televised documentary or to attend an exhibition of reproductions, much less purchase one of those reproductions.

But if those reproductions are not disclosed as -reproductions-, then potential serious consequences of law may come into play for those who chose to misrepresent those reproductions for profit.

The reputations and legacy of living and past artists, present and future consumers ie. the art-buying public deserve the re-establishment of the obvious; that the living presence and participation of the artist to once again be required, as it always should have been, to create the piece of art attributable to the artist if indeed it is attributed to them, much less purported to have been signed by them.


ADDENDUM - HARRY T. PETERS - BIO:(excerpt from http://americanhistory.si.edu/petersprints/about/peters.cfm)
"A chance encounter with an old print of the famous Long Island trotting horse Lady Suffolk led Harry T. Peters to become a collector of American lithographs and one of the leading authorities in his day on the firm of Currier & Ives. Peters' early collecting focused on English color-plate books, but as Master of Fox Hounds at the Meadow Brook Hunt on Long Island for many years, he also had strong interests in horses, dogs, and hunting. At first he collected prints of those subjects, but later he developed a more comprehensive group of historical graphic works. In the early 20th century these images were not in fashion, and Peters' advocacy of their content and charm helped interest a new generation of collectors. He was presented with the New-York Historical Society's gold medal for achievement in history for his contributions to the field of graphic arts in 1947. Peters appreciated the historical importance and visual appeal of American lithographs at a time when few others recognized their value. He began collecting before World War I, and he amassed several groups of prints later donated to museums. His books document the importance of this democratic medium that offered "cheap, popular pictures" serving both art and commerce. Smithsonian exhibitions and publications have included prints from the Peters Collection, and his books have been reprinted in several editions. Peters also published California on Stone (1935) to document lithography's coverage of the Gold Rush period. His research identified many early prints and printmakers from across the U.S."

FOOTNOTES:

1. Image from www.springfieldmuseums.org/museums/mfa/collection/search.php?page_function=detail&k=LEXINGTON&page=1&collection_id=3
Text gleaned Plate 21 from Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People by Harry T. Peters, 1942

2. Copyright 1980 by Random House, Inc. ISBN 0-394-43500-1

3. Chromist is defined as "One who works with color". an artist craftsman who separates paintings or drawings into individual colors used to print. www.cartage.org.lb/en/themes/Reference/dictionary/artdictionary/c/Chromist%20.html

4. On page 350 in the 1991 HarperCollins Dictionary of Art Terms & Techniques by Ralph Mayer, the term “reproduction” is defined as: “A general term for any copy, likeness, or counterpart of an original work of art or of a photograph, done in the same medium as the original or in another, and done by someone other than the creator of the original.” ISBN 0-006-461012-8 (pbk.)

5. Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People by Harry T. Peters, 1942

6. Ibid

7. lean about prints, from ifpda: international fine print dealers association, http://www.printdealers.com/learn.cfm

8. © 1965 by Print Council of America, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 65-24325, Printed in the United States of America, Seventh Printing, March 1971

9. U.S. Customs’ “April 2004 Works of Art, Collector's Pieces Antiques, and Other Cultural Property - An Informed Compliance Publication. ” In part, it states: "The expression "original engravings, prints and lithographs" means impressions produced directly, in black and white or in color, of one or of several plates wholly executed by hand by the artist, irrespective of the process or of the material employed by him, but excluding any mechanical or photomechanical process."

10. Ibid

11. ISBN 0-006-461012-8 (pbk.)

12. ISBN 0-0670-83701-6

13. www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#101

14. Ibid

15. www.svcs.k12.in.us/svhs/graphicarts/Notes/Printing%20Trade%20Customs.pdf

16. Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People by Harry T. Peters, 1942

17. Ibid

18. Ibid

19. Ibid

20. Ibid

21. Ibid

22. Image from www.springfieldmuseums.org/museums/mfa/collection/search.php?page_function=detail&k=four+seasons&page=1&collection_id=64
Text gleaned Plate 107 from Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People by Harry T. Peters, 1942

23. Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People by Harry T. Peters, 1942

24. www.springfieldmuseums.org/museums/mfa/collection/search.php?page_function=detail&k=four+seasons&page=1&collection_id=64

25. Plate 20, Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People by Harry T. Peters, 1942

26. Ibid, P. 30

27. Ibid, Plate 20

28. Ibid, P. 31

29. Ibid, Plate 51

30. Ibid, P. 27

31. Ibid, P. 27 & 28

32. Ibid, Plate 28

33. Ibid, P. 24

34. Ibid, Plate 28 detail

35. Ibid, P. 24

36. Ibid


37. Ibid, P. 28

38. Ibid, P. 14

39. Ibid

40. Ibid, P. 13

41. Ibid, Plate 24

42. Ibid, Plate 25

43. Ibid, P. 15

44. Ibid, P. 23

45. Ibid, Plate 78

46. Ibid, Plate 79

47. Ibid, P. 23

48. Ibid, Plate 15

49. Ibid, P. 44

50. Ibid, P. 45

51. Ibid, P. 24-25

52. Ibid, P. 12-13

53. Ibid, P. 3

54. www.currierandives.org/about.html

55. Ibid

56. Plate 30, Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People by Harry T. Peters, 1942

57. Ibid, P. 29

57. Ibid

58. FAQ About Currier & Ives, www.currierandives.org/faq.html

59. www.oldprintshop.com/cgi-bin/gallery.pl?action=detail&inventory_id=34503&itemno=1

57. FAQ About Currier & Ives, www.currierandives.org/faq.html

58. P. 26 & Plate 15, Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People by Harry T. Peters, 1942

59. Image from www.springfieldmuseums.org/museums/mfa/collection/search.php?page_function=detail&k=LEXINGTON&page=1&collection_id=3

60. FAQ About Currier & Ives, www.currierandives.org/faq.html

61. P. 13 & 14, Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People by Harry T. Peters, 1942

62. FAQ About Currier & Ives, www.currierandives.org/faq.html

63. www.geocities.com/scurrier/


CORRESPONDENCE (to WGBY's General Manager):

June 9, 2008

Rus Peotter
Vice President & General Manager
WGBY
44 Hampden Street
Springfield, MA 01103
413-781-2801 Ext 260

Re: http://garyarseneau.blogspot.com/2008/05/currier-ives-lithograph-lie-over-168.html
(Text copy below)

Note: All Footnotes are enclosed with { }.

Dear Mr. Peotter:

“Currier & Ives lithographs” are actually -non-disclosed- chromist-made reproductions.

Yet, on the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ www.imls.gov/news/2006/091906_list.shtm website, it states it gave $248,444 (not including matching funds) to fund a Project Title: "Perspectives On America: Currier and Ives” where “WGBY –TV, partnering with the Springfield Library and Museums Association, Bay Path College, the local newspaper The Republican, and Springfield Public Schools, will provide digitally-based educational experiences for children, adults and seniors that explore the museums' comprehensive collection of 787 nineteenth-century Currier & Ives lithographs.”

Over quarter of a million dollars of taxpayer money was given to fund a educational project for so-called Currier & Ives lithographs that -don’t- exist.

Unfortunately, this project, it would seem at best, lacked that -one- person who understood what constitutes a lithograph, much less a reproduction.

WHAT IS A LITHOGRAPH?
In the U.S. Customs’ May 2006 An Informed Compliance Publication titled Works of Art, Collector’s Pieces Antiques, and Other Cultural Property, it states: “The expression “original engravings, prints and lithographs” means impressions produced directly, in black and white or in color, of one or of several plates wholly executed by hand by the artist, irrespective of the process or of the material employed by him, but excluding any mechanical or photomechanical process.”{1}

ARTIST DRAWS, PREPARES & PRINTS THEIR LITHOGRAPHS
Specifically, the artist draws on the stone, plate or mylar. That artist drawn image is the tool. The tool is chemically prepared by the artist. Then the artist prints their edition of original works of visual art ie. lithographs. As an artist, who has personally created, prepared and printed my 10,000 or more lithographs either in color, hand-colored or combined with other mediums, I speak with authority and experience.

WHAT IS A REPRODUCTION?
In The Fifth Edition of the Artist’s Handbook of Materials and Techniques by Ralph Mayer, the author wrote: “The major traditional graphic-arts processes of long standing and continued popularity are lithograph, etching, drypoint, woodcutting or wood engraving, aquatint, and soft-ground etching. ...The term “graphic arts” excludes all forms of mechanically reproduced works photographed or redrawn on plates; all processes in which the artist did not participate to his or her fullest capacity are reproductions.”{2}

U.S. COPYRIGHT LAW
Under U.S. Copyright Law 106A, the “Rights of Attribution - shall not apply to any reproduction.”{3}

PRINTER OWNS REPRODUCTIONS RIGHTS
What that means is a reproduction would be owned by the printer who reproduced it, not the artist. Unfortunately, most artists, much less laypersons wrongly think otherwise. Now, if the artist understood their rights and had those reproductions rights reassigned in writing by the printer back to the artist that would be an admission by all that they were reproductions.

Nathaniel Currier and James Merritt Ives knew they owned the reproductions they published because they registered them with the U.S. Copyright Office.

CURRIER & IVES REGISTERED COPYRIGHT FOR REPRODUCTIONS
This historical fact is confirmed in the Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People by Harry T. Peters, where on page 6 the author wrote: "The first entry by N. Currier in the copyright records in Washington is under 1838 and the next in 1840. Undoubtedly during this early period Currier produced a number of prints that he did not copyright, his work not having become sufficiently popular to necessitate that precaution."{4}

In other words, WGBY and its’ staff, at best, may not have understood the difference between an original works of visual art ie. lithographs and reproductions, not to mention the true history of Currier & Ives but that is an explanation not an excuse.

So when on WGBY promotes “Currier & Ives, Perspectives on America” on their http://www.currierandives.org/ exhibitions/index.html website as: “The Lenore B. and Sidney A. Alpert Gallery {at the Springfield Museum of Fine Arts} presents thematic exhibits drawn from the Museum’s collection of nearly 900 hand-colored lithographs by the famous “printmakers to the people,” should we cut them a break for their lack of connoisseurship?

WHAT IS CONNOISSEURSHIP?
In Paul Duro & Michael Greenhalgh’s published Essential Art History, “connoisseurship” is defined as: “that of the art expert able to distinguish between the authentic and non-authentic, for example between an original and a copy.”{5}

EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS BASED ON CURRIER & IVES
Then to add insult to injury, WGBY offers on their www.currierandives.org/education/index.html website, of all things under the subtitle: Education & Outreach Opportunities. In part, it states: “Working in conjunction with community partners, the the Springfield Museums in Springfield, MA, have created a variety of educational programs based on the Currier & Ives collection that include an adult lecture series; college curriculum units in history, art history and literature; teacher-created lesson plans for elementary and high school students that link to social studies, English language arts and art; and curriculum-based museum visits that teach American history through art for area students.”

What lessons can the public learn from WGBY who, at best, has no idea what they’re talking about?

Then to go from the ridiculous to the sublime, this misrepresentation of Currier & Ives reproductions as lithographs is further perpetuated, with or without intent, by professors from Bay Path College.

ROBERT SURBRUG
One of the three PDF Lesson Plans, posted on WGBY’s “Currier & Ives, Perspectives on America’s” website{6}, by Bay Path College’s Robert Surbrug, is titled: “United States History to 1870: Analyzing Lithographs from the Currier and Ives Collection” In part, the author wrote: “Lithographs were works of art reproduced from a stone original.”{7}

Obviously Mr. Surbrug does not understand that lithographs are original works of visual art created by an artist that would never be trivialized as reproduced much less from a stone original.

Reproduction{8}, by definition, is a copy of an original work of visual art that is done by someone other than the artist. Under U.S. Copyright Law the “right of attribution shall not apply to a reproduction.”{9}

So, it is huge conflict of ideas ie. oxymoron to commingle a work of visual art such as a lithograph created by an artist with a reproduction not created by an artist as if they are interchangeable much less the same.

JAMES FREY & MILLION PIECES
Remember, in literature, James Frey tried to deceive the public, his publishers and Oprah Winfrey about his book and look what happened to him. His reputation is now tattered into a million pieces.

DR. JOHN JARVIS
Another of the three seriously flawed PDF Lesson Plans, posted on the “Currier & Ives, Perspectives on America’s” website{10}, by Bay Path College’s Dr. John Jarvis, is titled: “Cultural Analysis in American Literature Using the Lithographs of Currier Ives.” In part, the author wrote: “Integrating the study of Currier & Ives lithographs into an American Literature course offers an ideal context in which to provide students with conceptual tools for the productive study of those ‘meaning-making, meaning-sustaining, [and] meaning-subverting activities.”{11}

Once again, since Currier & Ives were actually selling to the public chromist-made reproductions, not lithographs, how can you integrate something into American Literature that -never- existed.

MILLI & VANILLI
Remember, Milli & Vanilli lip-sync songs they didn’t sing, much less wrote and the subsequent firestorm that erupted when they got caught because their tape machine skip a beat during a so-called live performance.

SANDRA G. BURNS
Finally, the third of the three seriously flawed PDF Lesson Plans, posted on the “Currier & Ives, Perspectives on America’s” website{12}, by Bay Path College’s Sandra G. Burns, is titled: “Using the Lithographs of Currier and Ives to Define and Reflect The Development of an American Identity; A Visual Inquiry”{13} In part, the author wrote: “An interesting way for students of the visual arts to investigate eras of cultural identification and diversity is to view and analyze images created during evolutionary periods. The Currier and Ives collection of lithographs provides such an opportunity.”

Once again, to belabor the point, since Currier & Ives were actually publishing and selling, to the public, chromist-made reproductions, not lithographs, a true scholarly investigation would have revealed that fact.

JAMA & MERCK
Remember, the ethical and legal fallout is yet to be fully determined for the Merck employees’ ghostwritten articles about their drug Vioxx that were published by the Journal of the American Medical Association as independent research under the names of legitimate physicians. To learn more about this deception, link to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/15/AR2008041502086.html

SPRINGFIELD MUSEUM OF FINE ART
This misrepresentation of chromist-made reproductions as lithographs is perpetuated by the Springfield Museum of Fine Art that hypocritically promotes its’ mission as: “to collect, exhibit and preserve works of art for the benefit of all individuals, while encouraging the education and participation in, and the enjoyment and appreciation of the arts.”{14}

For example, on the Springfield Museum of Art’s website{15}, the titled: “Awful Conflagration of the Steam Boat LEXINGTON In Long Island and on Monday Eveg, Jany 13th 1840 by which melancholy occurrenc; over 120 Persons Perished” is listed as follows: “Artists: Currier, Nathaniel - Date of Artists: - Drawn by W.K. Hewitt (lower left corner) - Medium: hand-colored lithograph.”{16}

NAPOLEON SARONY DREW IT
The only problem is this non-disclosed chromist-made reproduction was -not- drawn W.K. Hewitt, nor was Nathaniel Currier the artist because it was actually reproduced from an image drawn on stone by the chromist Napoleon Sarony.{17}

Yet, WGBY’s “Currier & Ives, Perspective on America’s” website{18} would have you believe: “The Springfield Museum of Fine Arts in Springfield, {Massuchesett} is home to the country’s only permanent museum gallery devoted to the work of Currier & Ives. The Lenore B. and Sidney A. Alpert Gallery presents thematic exhibits drawn from the Museum’s collection of nearly 900 hand-colored lithographs by the famous “printmakers to the people.”

COLORED BY STAFF
This assertion that Nathaniel Currier or James Merritt Ives hand-colored anything, much less the reproductions they’d published, is documented to the contrary on page 14 in the 1942 published Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People, where the author Harry T. Peters wrote: “In the Currier & Ives shop the stock prints were colored by a staff or about twelve young women, all trained colorists and mostly of German descent.”{19}

Is this the kind of sloppy and misleading scholarship we should expect from a museum, much less for $248,444 or more in grant money given to WGBY?

Unfortunately, at best, the lack of connoisseurship by the Public Broadcasting Station WGBY, its’ producers and on-air personalities, Bay Path College’s Sandra G. Burns, Dr. John Jarvis and Robert Surbrug and the Springfield Museum of Fine Art and its’ staff perpetuates misconceptions and reinforces old ones about the true history of Currier & Ives and not to mention the continuing the misrepresentation of their published chromist-made reproductions as original works of visual art ie. lithographs.


REPRODUCTIONS SHOULD BE DISCLOSED AS REPRODUCTIONS
In closing, WGBY and its’ producers, Bay Path College and its’ participating professors and Springfield Museum of Fine Art and its’ staff, not to mention The Republican newspaper, involved with this “Currier & Ives, Perspective on America” should give full and honest disclosure, to the Nathaniel Currier & James Merritt’s published chromist-made reproductions as -reproductions-.

With full and honest disclosure, the public may be able to give informed consent on whether to attend an exhibit of reproductions at the Springfield Museum of Art, much less pay the price of admission, not to mention those who represent the taxpayer and are charged with the responsibility to give out large amounts of grant money for what they were told were Currier & Ives lithographs.

The public, students, legitimate artists who create lithographs, not to mention those who sell fully disclosed reproductions, deserve that kind of transparency.

There is no time like the present, June 9, 2008, to begin.

Any questions, comments or requests for additional documentation, please contact me.

I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,


Gary Arseneau
artist, creator of original lithographs, scholar & author
P.O. Box 686
Fernandina Beach, Florida 32035


FOOTNOTES:

1.www.cbp.gov/linkhandler/cgov/trade/legal/informed_compliance_pubs/icp061.ctt/icp061.pdf

2. ISBN 0-670-83701-6

3. www. copyright.gov

4.Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People by Harry T. Peters, 1942

5. rubens.anu.edu.au/htdocs/teach/eah/ImageServe

6. http://www.currierandives.org/lessonplans.html

7. Ibid

8. On Path 350 in Ralph Mayer’s HarperCollins Dictionary of Art Terms & Techniques. -reproduction- is defined as: “A general term for any copy, likeness, or counterpart of an original work of art or of a photograph, done in the same medium as the original or in another, and done by someone other than the creator of the original.”

9. Under U.S. Copyright Law 106A. Rights of Attribution - “shall not apply to any reproduction.”

10. http://www.currierandives.org/lessonplans.html

11. Ibid

12. Ibid

13. Ibid

14.http://www.springfieldmuseums.org/museums/mfa/collection/search.php?page_function=detail&k=lexington&Path=1&collection_id=188

15. Ibid

16. http://www.currierandives.org/exhibitions/index.html

17.. On pages 13 and 14, in the 1942 Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People by Harry T. Peters, the author wrote: "Napoleon Sarony achieved his fame in activities other than his work for Currier & Ives, but early in his career he was employed as a lithographer by Nathaniel Currier - Sarony's most important work for Currier was the famous Lexington print, which he designed."

18. http://www.currierandives.org/exhibitions/index.html

19. Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People by Harry T. Peters, 1942


CORRESPONDENCE (from WGBY's General Manager):

RE: Currier & Ives -CANARD-, over 168 years of non-disclosed chromist-made reproductions misrepresented
From: Rus Peotter (rpeotter@wgby.org)
Sent: Mon 6/09/08 12:43 PM
Reply-to: rpeotter@wgby.org

To: 'gary arseneau' (gwarseneau@hotmail.com)

Cc: aradice@imls.gov; kfernstrom@imls.gov; nweiss@imls.gov; ctrowbridge@imls.gov; mpatten@imls.gov; wmorlier@imls.gov; lmahoney@imls.gov; msemmel@imls.gov; lpage@wgby.org; grivest@wgby.org; brhodes@wgby.org; kclark@wgby.org; dfraser@wgby.org; mzippay@wgby.org; jmadigan@wgby.org; mmurphy@wgby.org; tdunne@wgby.org; msteele@wgby.org; hlavigne@wgby.org; bmichaels@wgby.org; ldemers@wgby.org; rjoyce@wgby.org; rsurbrug@baypath.edu; sburns@baypath.edu; jjarvis@baypath.edu; cleary@baypath.edu; pdouglas@baypath.edu

Mr. Arseneau-

As the person who wrote much of the IMLS/CPB grant that funded CURRIER & IVES:PERPSECTIVES ON AMERICA, I thank you for the detailed email regarding the project. The primary purpose of the entire effort was to help modern day Americans understand how the C&I prints were probably the country’s first “mass media” and how profoundly they formed American’s opinions about themselves, their country and the world.

I’m sorry that you seem to take the definition of “lithograph” in its most literal sense, and view the project as a waste of time and money. Clearly, what most 19th century Americans saw of C&I were not works of art per se, but rather inexpensive prints. (A point the project makes repeatedly, but judging from your email, I doubt you’ve seen the series.)

You may find neologisms in modern English disappointing, but they are a reality. One of the earliest was the common use of “Kleenex” for any tissue. One of the most recent is “TIVO” for any type or brand of DVR. Of course, the most apropos is the use of “Xerox” for copy. (That one even changed a proper noun into a verb!)

As someone who has worked in public media for over 30 years, I have learned well that “people see what they want to see, and hear what they want to hear”. You clearly object to the project’s use of the word “lithograph”. That is your right. However to extrapolate that issue into dismissing the value of the entire project, is largely sophistry and not something that will stand up to much scrutiny. Nor will it give credit to your own considerable knowledge and scholarship.

Currier & Ives: Perspectives On America, was one of WGBY’s most watched programs the month it premiered. And shortly, it will be seen in cities across the country. Hopefully, what happened here will happen elsewhere; people learned that what they generally thought was simply a holiday cliché was really a powerful record of American life. And the beginning of media literacy as we know it today.

Thank you again for taking the time to comment on the project.

Russell J. Peotter
General Manager
WGBY

3 Comments:

Anonymous Allegra Berrian said...

Mr Areseneau, I have scanned through your thorough and fascinating article/blog on the Currier & Ives "canard." I have a perhaps doltish question: Can I legally reproduce ( i.e., scan and reprint) an image of a Currier & Ives reproduction from a Metropolitan Life Calendar? I am using it as a Christmas/greeting card and would like to sell the cards in a local shop. It's called "Cherry-Time " and bears a name in the lower left-hand corner, F.F. Palmer, Del. Any advice?

1:43 AM, February 06, 2009  
Blogger Gary Arseneau said...

Dear M. Berrain:

First, all Currier & Ives images from the 19th-century are in the public domain.

Second, a slavish reproduction of a public domain work has no inherent copyright (Bridgeman vs. Corel).

Third, I am not familar with that titled image "Cherry-Time" with the F.F. Palmer inscription ie., Currier & Ives chromist Fanny Palmer, therefore I recommend you consult with an attorney before proceeding with the reproduction of anything to confirm what you would like to reproduce is in fact, a public domain work.

I hope this is of assistance.

Sincerely,

Gary Arseneau
artist, creator of original lithographs, scholar & author

2:01 AM, February 06, 2009  
Blogger kathy said...

Mr.Gary Arseneau,
I just got done reading your article on Currier and Ives. It sure was interesting.
I know my prints are all reproduction. Although on the front are "Entered according to act of congress in the year and so and so. However, on the prints that I have they all have an article on the back telling the history of the print. Underneath the article is stated made in U.S.A. Can you tell me anything about them? I know my grandfather got them when he worked for "Woolworth 5 and 10 store in Manhattan from 1937-67, and the company discarded them after a exhibitions and the prints didn't sell.
Thank you in advance. Hope to hear from you soon. Kathy

6:33 PM, May 08, 2010  

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