The Chattanooga Regional History Museum and The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga will host a lecture by Robert Edsel on the work of the “Monuments Men,” who saved or recovered many of the world’s great artworks from Nazi Germany. The program will be held at UTC’s Roland Hayes Auditorium of the UTC Fine Arts Center, located at Vine and Palmetto Streets, on September 19th at 7 p.m., following a public reception at 6 pm. The public is invited and there is no admission charge.
During and after World War II, 350 men and women served in military units to protect and recover many of the world’s great cultural treasures from the Germans. Formally designated the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives section, this unit was nicknamed “Monuments Men.” Art they recovered included works by Leonardo da Vinci, Jan Van Eyck, Johannes Vermeer and Michelangelo. Robert Edsel, author of Rescuing da Vinci, and co-producer of the documentary film The Rape of Europa, will tell the story of the “Monuments Men.” He will also speak about his own ongoing effort to gather biographical information on the rescuers, who, working in war zones were often in great peril, and to identify those who remain anonymous.
Following the lecture, there will be an opportunity for the audience to ask questions of Edsel.
Edsel’s documentary feature, “The Rape of Europa,” will be shown in Chattanooga at the Bijou Theatre on Broad Street September 21-27, as part of the Arts and Education Council’s 2007 Fall Independent Film Series.
Before and after Edsel’s lecture, The Cress Gallery of Art, located in the UTC Fine Arts Center, will be open for attendees to experience the 2007 UTC Department of Art Biennial Faculty Exhibition.
Additional sponsors of the lecture include Fletcher Bright, Dr.& Mrs. Joseph Busch, Mr. & Mrs. Gary Chazen, Mrs. Joseph Davenport, Sr., Mrs. Edgar Jolley, Sr., Merrill Lynch, Mr. & Mrs. Olan Mills, Mr. & Mrs. Mervin Pregulman, Mr. & Mrs. Todd Wells, and Phyllis and Stephanie Shuptrine.
Edsel was born on December 28, 1956, in Oak Park, Illinois, and raised in Dallas, Texas. At Southern Methodist University in 1976, Edsel was invited to play on the school’s nationally ranked tennis team and participated in several professional qualifying tournaments. It was here that Edsel was presented with the opportunity to work for the World Championship Tennis (WCT) as the assistant tournament director of the WCT Finals Tournament in Dallas.
After graduating from SMU in 1979 with a B.A. in Finance, Edsel took a job with an independent oil and gas producer. After a year and half of employment, Edsel embarked on an entrepreneurial career, and successfully generated dozens of prospects that resulted in the drilling of more than 150 producing wells. In 1986, Edsel consolidated his oil and gas operations into a new company – Gemini Exploration Company. Edsel sold the company’s assets to Union Pacific Resources Company (now a part of Anadarko Petroleum) in May 1995.
The idea for Rescuing Da Vinci took Edsel on a journey to locate the heroes who had saved great works of art and to discover their stories. By 2004, his efforts had become a fulltime career. Edsel assembled a team of researchers who combed archives in more than a dozen countries for photographs and other documentation of this story, while he conducted a considerable amount of the research himself. By 2005, he had gathered thousands of photographs and other documents, and began writing the manuscript for Rescuing Da Vinci, ultimately published in 2006.
Continuing his creative interests, Edsel co-produced with Actual Films’ of San Francisco, a documentary film, The Rape of Europa, based on the award-winning book by scholar Lynn Nicholas. In the fall of 2004, Edsel traveled with the filmmakers for nine weeks as they filmed throughout Europe and Russia. Additional shooting and editing in 2005 and 2006 incorporated the stunning conclusion of the Maria Altmann restitution case. The film premiered at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts on November 12, 2006, where it won The Best Documentary Film Award. It continues to be screened at key museums across the country. It has also been shown at numerous other film festivals including the Boston, Washington, and New York Jewish Film Festivals, along with festivals in Denver and Palm Springs. It is narrated by acclaimed actress Joan Allen. The film will begin its national release in late spring 2007.
Edsel also created and helped design websites for the both the book (www.rescuingdavinci.com) and the film (www.therapeofeuropa.com). The Rescuing Da Vinci website was recognized by www.coolhomepages.com as the “Site of the Week” and was also named a top 10 Education Oriented site from user reviews and ratings and a top 10 Flash site from user reviews and ratings. Additionally, Edsel created a blog (www.robertedselblog.com) on which he writes daily entries on subjects of interest including art, life, and heroes.