Sunday, March 25, 2007

CBS News Sunday morning did a story about an artist named Martin Ramirez, who created ost of his art while in a mental instititution in Northern California between 1948 and 1963. His art would have remained unknown except for the fact that a Professor named Tarmo Pasto discovered Ramírez and began to save the large drawings he made.

But CBS left out some information - when Professor Pasto "started collecting" the art, did he compensate either the artist, or his family? Or did he just take them?

I suspect art is often taken without proper authority - witness all the news stories about museums in trouble for possessing stolen art. In the New York Times review in January of the Ramirez exhibition, it says that Professor Pasto sent 10 drawings to the Guggenheim museum in 1955, but never heard from them. In the 1990's, the museum found them and "accessioned" them in 1997. I realize this refers to the process of adding art to the museum's collection, but it also sounds like an official and polite term for "steal."

Similarly, the NY Times article says that Professor Pasto sold most of his Ramirez drawings to Jim Nutt and his art dealer - because he wanted to send his son to medical school. Did any of Martin Ramirez's family make it to medical school?