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: ArtsTalk: Behind the Scenes at the Institute


Minneapolis Institute of Arts



Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Patrick Noon was named the Patrick and Aimee Butler Curator of Paintings and Twentieth-Century Sculpture at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts in 1997. He joined the Institute after spending twenty years in various curatorial positions at the Yale University Center for British Art. Educated at Brown University and the University of Michigan, Noon has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and has written extensively about paintings, prints, and drawings. Arts Magazine recently caught up with Noon; the following is an excerpt from that conversation.Arts Magazine: How did you decide to come to The Minneapolis Institute of Arts after your long career at Yale?Patrick Noon: As you know, I was one of the founding curators at the Yale Center for British Art, an institution devoted to the appreciation and study of British culture. I felt that after two decades of commitment, including teaching, organizing nearly eighty exhibitions, and acquiring 9,000 additional works of art on paper, I had accomplished all that I had aspired to in that position. I was eager to work with an internationally respected collection of paintings from all periods and schools. My original training was in American and French painting, and my most recent research projects have focused on the relationships between artists working in different countries, especially during the Romantic era. So the opportunity to assume responsibility for the Institute's world-class collection was both timely and irresistible.AM: Describe the depth and breadth of the Institute's paintings collection.P.N.: It is a collection with tremendous breadth and areas of amazing depth. French painting has always been well represented, thanks to the founders and James J. Hill in particular. After that, one senses the impact of certain curators, directors, and trustees over the decades. We are very rich in Italian Baroque, Dutch, and paintings created during the crucial first decade of the twentieth century. We would welcome reinforcements in the areas of American nineteenth-century and French and British eighteenth-century painting. We should never lose sight of the fact that our dynamic collection must continue to expand through the addition of modern and contemporary works of the highest caliber.AM: Which paintings in our collection are the most historically significant?P.N.: That is a difficult question to answer. Courbet's Deer in the Forest is significant in the history of the Twin Cities because it was the first masterwork to be given to the Institute, even though it has no grand importance to the history of art. Poussin's Death of Germanicus, on the other hand, had a profound impact on the course of European painting over several centuries. Ultimately, every work of genius has historical significance in that it touches the lives of people in positive and lasting ways. At the Institute, we're blessed that a large percentage of our pictures fall into that category of excellence.AM: Do you have a personal favorite painting in the Institute's collection?P.N.: I would despair if I were limited to one personal favorite, but I do find myself constantly drawn to Rembrandt's Lucretia.AM: Was the restoration of the Castiglione painting a success? Were there any surprises? P.N.: The restoration of the Castiglione altarpiece was successful beyond even my enthusiastic projections. It was a triumph owing largely to the tremendous talents of our team of conservators, David Marquis and Joan Gorman. There were many surprises of a technical or art historical nature, the most significant being, of course, the discovery of Castiglione's signature, which until now had been obscured by overpainting from a prior treatment. We learned a great deal about Castiglione's technique and his bravura style, but what surprised and delighted me the most were the responses of our visitors. We had adults and children alike in rapt attention for long periods of time, bursting with gratitude for the rare opportunity to witness such a process. We might have had as many as 50,000 visitors during the six weeks of treatment, and countless more introduced to the project and the principles of conservation through our special Web site.Related ImagesPatrick Noon with Rembrandt's Lucretia.
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Source: "ArtsTalk: Behind the Scenes at the Institute," <i>Arts</i> 23, no. 2 (March 2000): 17.
Rights: ©MIA
Added to Site: March 10, 2009