SMC Responds to Students' Concerns About Sculpture on Campus

Dear SMC Community,

Earlier this week, we received a message from several students expressing concern about the statue in the museum courtyard entitled Falcon Boy (1954) by Fritz von Graevenitz (1892-1959). The concern pertains to a possible connection between the artist and German National Socialism.  

We have taken this matter very seriously and have begun researching the sculpture’s provenance and how SMC acquired it. In the meantime, due to the sensitive nature of the topic, we have removed it temporarily to give us an opportunity to learn more.  At this point, we do not have all the facts but will share what we know. 

The piece was purchased on behalf of SMC by Henry Schaefer-Simmern, a member of the Saint Mary's College Art faculty from 1961-1978 (his death), an art education pioneer. Born in western Germany, Schaefer-Simmern fled the Nazi regime in 1937, coming to the United States. He was an avid art collector who occasionally collected works for Saint Mary's College for educational purposes for the campus. 

This work came into the possession of SMC before the formation of the Museum of Art. The Museum of Art is charged with caring for college artwork, whether part of the Museum of Art collections or as part of college possessions.

We intend to use this moment as an opportunity to hold community conversations about the artist and the historical and political context in which he lived, as well as broader ethical questions about the curation of public art, including those of context, intent, and impact. We will provide details about these events as soon as they are finalized.

I look forward to engaging in these important conversations with all of you.

Sincerely,

 

Margaret Kasimatis, Ph.D.
Interim Executive Vice President