24October 2018

The Women who built American Art Institutions

Deborah Jenner

The speaker Deborah Jenner is an American-born art historian, who is a member of the College Arts Association. Residing in Paris since 1990, she has worked at the Ecole du Louvre, the Sorbonne, the Catholic Institute and the British Council. Her doctorate thesis focused on the impact of non-western spirituality on the art of Georgia O’Keeffe. Her research continues to be focused on the turning point when Asian influences superseded Euro-centric ones in 20th century American art. Her publications include catalogues for Musée d’Orsay (New York City et l’Art modern) and Centre Pompidou (Les Traces du Sacré) and scholarly papers.

By the 1880’s women were founding associations as patrons of the arts.  Names familiar to us are Peggy Guggenheim, Gertrude Vanderbilt, Abbey Rockefeller and there are many more besides! George Santayana proclaimed in 1911 that US culture was a feminised backwater presided over by genteel ladies.  Henry James  in Daisy Miller had mocked them for their pilgrimages to Europe seeking art. Isabella Gardner of Boston was the first to create a whole museum with 82 rooms in her own home! Louisine Havmeyer of NYC soon followed suit.