Art in Embassies preview with Ambassador Tuttle in London

Full Transcript

0:01ELLIOTT GOTKINE: Venerable, imposing, noble, the distinguished trappings of American diplomacy,
0:09or are they? At their official residence in London, Robert Tuttle, US Ambassador to the
0:15United Kingdom and his wife Maria bring some of America’s most outstanding artists to public
0:21attention overseas. The goal: to create better understanding of the US through its art.
0:27AMBASSADOR ROBERT TUTTLE: The response has been fabulous, and I think that’s what cultural
0:30and public diplomacy is all about.
0:32ELLIOTT GOTKINE: The works of modern American artists like William de Kooning, and Ellsworth
0:38Kelly are as surprising to find on these sedate walls, as they are attention grabbers to over
0:457,000 visitors to the residence each year.
0:47AMBASSADOR TUTTLE: And we came up with the idea that the theme of this collection would
0:52be modern American classics. I think people like the fact that we’ve shown, really, this
0:59terrific American art and they’re interested that we were sort of willing to take a chance
1:03and do something a little — a little different — a little unexpected for a house like this.
1:08MRS. MARIA TUTTLE: I think that sort of public diplomacy of the art speaking to the visitor,
1:14it’s a very powerful thing.
1:15ELLIOTT GOTKINE: How does the Art in Embassies program work? Is it just a case of the pair
1:19of you drawing up a wish list and saying, “Can we have this one?”
1:23MRS. TUTTLE: We actually did make a wish list.
1:25AMBASSADOR TUTTLE: We made a wish list. We sort of began to think about the kind of pieces
1:28that — that we would like and since we had some knowledge of where those pieces might
1:34be, we asked the Art in Embassies program to ask those institutions or in the case of
1:39the Broad Foundation, if they would consider lending those pieces. And then we had a couple
1:44of pictures of our own that we brought.
1:46ELLIOTT GOTKINE: US Ambassador’s wish lists or requests for assistance in choosing works
1:51is facilitated by the Art in Embassies program of the State Department. It arranges the loans
1:56of art for display abroad from American artists, museums, personal lenders, corporate collections,
2:02and galleries.
2:03SPEAKER: As we have $100,000,000 worth of art on loan from the American art community.
2:09We meet with ambassadors after they’ve been appointed, come up with a theme, like in London
2:14the Tuttles the theme is just the best of American art in the mid-twentieth century.
2:20They’re already collectors and it’s wonderful to work with them, challenging sometimes because
2:25they know what they want and we have to make sure that it’s available.
2:29AMBASSADOR TUTTLE: It’s an iconic work by Liechtenstein, early Liechtenstein. We’re
2:33very excited to have it because it came from the Edythe and Eli Broad Foundation in Los
2:37Angeles, so it’s a Los Angeles picture and so it’s a great great picture and people just
2:43love it.
2:45ELLIOTT GOTKINE: The Tuttles brought work from their own collection including this de
2:50Kooning to complement the colors of the eighteenth century wallpaper.
2:53AMBASSADOR TUTTLE: …and he showed us this de Kooning that we just fell in love with
2:58and we bought it. And I love this picture. I love sitting here in this room, and I often
3:03do work in here.
3:04ELLIOTT GOTKINE: And of course you know you’ve got the greens almost matching the — the
3:09Chinese wallpaper there. You’ve got the salmon pink that are similar to the fireplace.
3:14AMBASSADOR TUTTLE: Elliott that was completely unintended, but if you like it, that’s okay.
3:17That’s what modern art is all about. It’s a wonderful picture. And we have some of these
3:22artists in our own collection.
3:23ELLIOTT GOTKINE: When it comes to buying art, what motivates you? You like what you see
3:29- I mean obviously — within your means…(laughter).
3:30AMBASSADOR TUTTLE: Yes. If it’s within our means.
3:32MRS. TUTTLE: If we can afford it.
3:33AMBASSADOR TUTTLE: We can afford it, that’s something then that we’d go out and try to
3:36buy or collect.
3:37MRS. TUTTLE: And — and frankly through this Art in Embassies program every ambassador
3:41certainly we’re included in that can have pieces that –that we wouldn’t be able to have
3:45on our own. Though, that’s part of the privilege, I think.
3:48ELLIOTT GOTKINE: And then this is the Hopper room of course, and that’s a big crowd puller.
3:54MRS. TUTTLE: It is.
3:55ELLIOTT GOTKINE: What’s — what’s the story behind this one. I mean why this one? Why
3:59AMBASSADOR TUTTLE: Well it’s an early Hopper, and of course I think he is really — he is
4:05a great — one of the great twentieth century American painters.
4:07MRS. TUTTLE: What’s interesting — he’s so well known for his American paintings situated
4:12in urban settings in America. And this was painted obviously in — in France. It’s called
4:19The Wine Bistro, even though we have two people together, there is an atmosphere and there’s
4:24somewhat of a lonely quality to it. I think this is our most popular painting.
4:28AMBASSADOR TUTTLE: In 2009, there’ll be a new ambassador here in London, and that individual
4:34will — could very well choose contemporary young contemporary artists. What’s interesting
4:38is that there’ll be a turnover, and people will have a chance to see new and different kinds
4:42of art.
4:43ELLIOTT GOTKINE: But whatever art replaces these great works, the mission to create better
4:47understanding of the US through its creative experience stays in America’s bigger diplomatic
4:53picture. Elliott Gotkine, Bloomberg news.