As the 20th century nears its end, a group of people in the United States and in Europe have taken the initiative of creating a new museum: The Museum of European Art in Clarence, New York. This decision was made at a time when the confrontation between the superpowers of East and West was coming to an end, and the work for peace among peoples became the official policy of the world's leading nations.
In this positive political atmosphere, free citizens are asked to make a contribution to the society of today as well as the future. This the Museum of European Art in the United States does. After 10 years of planning and preparations, the Museum was established to make the works of 20th century European artists available to the American public, to develop cultural activities to promote contact between the young artist generations of Europe and America, and to contribute, through the medium of art, to better international relations and friendship.
The cultural work of this institution cannot--nor does it wish to--compete with the great museums that have operated with extensive government support for decades. Nevertheless, the Museum of European Art is a valuable addition to the cultural landscape. It teaches about contemporary artists and presents, in exhibits both within and without, the works of men and women which we, due to their style, call "European art." Another objective of our museum is to arouse the curiosity of young people in art which has its roots in the countries of Europe from which their forefathers once emigrated. Contact with art enriches our personal lives. In addition, it gives us a better understanding and a greater respect for the cultures of other nations all over the world.
The Museum was founded in cooperation with a number of prominent European artists, art collectors, and art museums. From among the artists who have donated their works to the Museum or supported its work by their personal engagements, I would like to mention Kurt Arentz, Jean Cocteau, Salvador Dali, Ernst Fuchs, Renate Stendar, Jan Künster, Helga Tiemann, Gredi Assa, and a number of others.
When speaking of art today, we think first of those forms which we encounter every day, art forms which are familiar to us through the media or through personal experience: film, theater, pop concerts. We think, too, of contemporary painting, sculpture, and photography.
Over and over, television, radio and the newspapers tell us what is modern in painting and sculpture, what is "in." The younger among us are impressed, and convinced that all of what the media propagate is really "great art," even though we do not care for it personally.
Moreover, this influencing of people's artistic values is inherent in the freedom of our society. What art history will show to be lasting, remains undetermined. Only subsequent generations will learn which values in art really make an enduring contribution to human development.
Ultimately, the so-called contemporary art is only possible because art and culture have a long development and tradition in the history of humanity. A museum for European art in the United States has the important task of drawing attention to the roots of art and culture, to reveal the origins of cultural development in general, and with respect to America and Europe in particular. Its job is to inform, so that every observer can decide for himself what he considers art. It has been said: "Listen to your own inner voice." It will tell you what speaks to you and what pleases you."
The majority of U.S. citizens are descendants of Europeans. Their thoughts, feelings and actions are backed by hundreds of years of tradition and thousands of years of culture. This is true as well for those who allow themselves to be overly influenced by fast-moving modern development.
If we examine more closely the question of humanity's origins and development, it is fascinating to discover how much agreement there is among highly developed cultures on certain aesthetic questions. This is true even where cultures developed that had no knowledge of one another.
What we call European art and culture, that which comes out of Europe, is not always purely European. Through trade, or even wars, vastly different cultures have always influenced one another whenever the bearers of these cultures came into contact with each other. We know this from the cultural exchange between Europe and America after the discovery of this continent. Even older is the cultural exchange which took place during the time of Alexander the Great, when this exceptional ruler built a world empire that extended from Greece over Asia Minor and North Africa to India.
Not only Greek antiquity, but also Christianity and Judaism, have had a marked influence on European culture. The fact that the noble virtues of American Indians in Europe have also been viewed by generations, especially young people, as worthy of emulation, is likewise evidence that cultural values unite people.
The Museum of European Art in the United States
will continue this process. It should be proud of the cultural and
artistic values which its work promotes. It should be a place where
the cultures of all continents may meet. It should help to preserve
the classical artistic heritage of humanity, and it must promote a
positive understanding of art in which culture is a standard for all
The Museum owns half of a historical building in Clarence, located only steps past the Clarence Town Park, Clarence Historical Museum, and the Asa Ransom Restaurant. The original building was constructed in 1834, which makes it one of the oldest in the area. At this time, the Museum is open two days a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, from 10 - 5.
The Museum is a tax exempt, non-profit
organization. We do not receive any funds at all from the government,
everything is financed entirely by donations from the general public
and our members.
The image of the human body in its ideal form is the foundation of the collection. The young man and the maiden, man and woman, You and I. It depicts the human body as it is -- healthy, strong, noble, and beautiful. Male and female figures in bronze and marble by artists such as Salvador Dali, Arno Breker, Kurt Arentz, Charles Despiau, Paul Belmondo, and Ernst Fuchs are among the high points of our collection.
Established with the acquisition of the only authorized portrait-bust of the "King of Surrealists" Salvador Dali, this has become one of the most interesting aspects of the Museum's art collection. It includes the busts of Ronald Reagan, Alexander the Great, Jean Cocteau, Arno Breker, Richard Wagner, Konrad Adenauer, Ezra Pund, and Ernst Fuchs.
The collection was started with the acquisition of the painting Bucephalos, the horse of Alexander the Great, by the German painter Jan Künster, and Margaret Stucki's paintings The Space Dream and The Fire of Creativity. Since then, several paintings by other artists have been added.
Established with the acquisition of a group of
bronze sculptures from the hand of the famous German sculptor Kurt
Arentz, this collection includes the bronze sculpture of the rare
bald eagle. This sculpture by Arentz has received international
prominence by becoming the coveted "Ecological Eagle," awarded
annually to a prominent personality in the public life who has made
extraordinary contributions to preserving the environment of our
Many of the fine graphic works in this collection have been produced in the studio of the French master printer Fernand Mourlot. The beauty of this collection lies in the many facets of the various artists' use of color and line in their depiction of the human body.
Included here are lithographs, etchings, and
woodcuts by Salvador Dali, Arno Breker, Ernst Fuchs, Pablo Picasso,
Carzou, Charles Despiau, Aristide Maillol, Helga Tiemann, Andy
Warhol, and Marc Chagall.
We have fortunate to have on loan a collection of 100 fascinating color woodcuts by Salvador Dali. It took Dali 10 years to create this cyclus of the best illustrations to Dante Alighieri's Divina Commedia. Each of the 100 unique pictures was inspired by one of the stanza's of Dante's poem. In 1991, Felipe of Asturias, the Crown Prince of Spain, opened a large Salvador Dali exhibition at the Nörvenich Castle in Germany, where this cycle was shown as a part of the exhibition.
As I mentioned earlier, the Museum is a non-profit organization, and we depend for our financial support on donations from the general public.
We have membership applications available for those of you, who would like to support our work by becoming members. Membership privileges include free admission to the Museum, personal invitations to our special events and exhibitions, and rental privileges of selected works of art.
As part of your membership benefits you will also receive our Calendar of Events and the periodic journal PROMETHEUS, which carries interesting art-related news and articles, and schedule of major events sponsored by the Museum and other organizations with which we cooperate.
And finally, there is the opportunity to become a volunteer for those interested to become personally involved in the work of the Museum. Being a young institution, we have a number of opportunities for the right persons to make meaningful contributions to our work.