One of the most influential photographers of the last half-century, William Eggleston, ’61, has helped define the history of color photography. William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Video, 1961–2008, an exhibit at New York City’s Whitney Museum of American Art from November through January, was rated one of the top 10 art exhibits of 2008 by Time.com. It is the artist’s first retrospective in the United States and includes both his color and black-and-white photographs as well as Stranded in Canton, the artist’s video work from the early 1970s. The exhibition is now traveling throughout the United States and then to the Haus der Kunst in Munich. An interview with the photographer can be heard at www.whitney.org/eggleston.
Fred Westfield, BA’50, Vanderbilt professor of economics, emeritus, whose flight from Nazi Germany was chronicled in the Spring 2008 issue of Vanderbilt Magazine, is suing the Federal Republic of Germany in a case that may break new legal ground in compensation for lost art.
Westfield made it out of Germany, as did his brother, parents and an uncle, largely due to help from his uncle, Walter Westfeld, an art collector and dealer. Westfeld was arrested two weeks after Kristallnacht, the “night of broken glass,” when German Jews were terrorized in November 1938. He was charged with smuggling art and foreign-exchange violations for sending money to his family who had relocated to Nashville. Walter Westfeld ultimately was sent to Auschwitz, where he died in the death chambers. The Nazis seized his art collection, which included works by Rubens and El Greco, and sold it off.
Fred Westfield’s suit differs from most in that it seeks damages for the loss of the paintings, rather than the restoration of specific paintings to the family. Because of the number of works involved and the immense difficulty of tracking down the individual pieces at this time, the family instead seeks recompense for their loss: Inasmuch as Germany wrongfully caused the damage, they contend, it should bear the liability.
Nashville arts champion Bill Ivey was selected to President Barack Obama’s transition team for arts and culture. Ivey, director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy at Vanderbilt, is a veteran of the Clinton administration. He served as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts from 1998 through 2001.