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Beck is Ba-a-a-ck with His New Book (and CultureGrrl Is in It)

As expected, Columbia University Professor James Beck‘s just published book, “From Duccio to Raphael: Connoisseurship in Crisis” (European Press Academic Publishing) takes issue with several high-profile attributions, including, of course, the Metropolitan Museum’s Duccio.
What I didn’t expect was my being cited in the book—Page 169.
There, Beck mentions the use in a NY Times article of a statement of enthusiastic support for the Met’s Duccio attribution by expert Luciano Bellosi. Beck calls Bellosi’s published comments “a well orchestrated inclusion whose purpose it was to give authority to the Met’s purchase and to cripple my assertions.”
Then he brings me into it:
Undetected by the Times, Bellosi has never seen the painting, a fact he confirmed to the journalist Lee Rosenbaum, a day or two after the publication of the Times article in reponse to her question:
“No, unfortunately I didn’t see it with my own eyes, only by photographs….I know it is a very important question. It is always necessary to see the works of art in reality to be sure what they are….Art historians like Keith Christiansen and Everett Fahy [of the Met] are very capable to judge the works of art with their eyes. I know their capacity. I trust in them for that.”

Beck goes on to say that (unbeknownst to me) he submitted the above quote to the Times, but “it was never used.” Unlike Beck, though, I don’t see this as part of some vast conspiracy “to protect the Metropolitan Museum at all costs”—just a reluctance by the newspaper to use an outside journalist’s discovery (published in a blog, no less) to undermine the work of its own reporter. Beck makes many serious points in his book, but he does tend to sensationalize.
The debate, if there is one, will have to be joined by art historians more expert than I. But more likely, the scholarly and curatorial establishment will again dismiss this contentious contrarian as a crank.
So let the name-calling begin. Just leave me out of it!

an ArtsJournal blog