A Wonderful Honor
It was quite an honor and thrill to be in Castellabate, Italy last Saturday evening to receive the Pio Alferano Award for service to the arts. The open-air celebration and fireworks show that followed added to the excitement. I met a wonderful group of people and beautifully arranged, like only the Italians can do. One highlight: these very moving remarks delivered by Dr. Vittorio Sgarbi [translated into English below], one of the foremost cultural critic and art historians in Italy. Thanks to all for such a memorable evening!
What fuels the life of Robert M. Edsel is amazement. For someone who was born in Chicago and lived in Texas, Italy, where art transforms nature, is the country of endless marvels. Florence alone is a condensation of surprises and emotions. Strolling, entering churches, walking down museum halls is all it takes. Through these monuments, Edsel discovered the extraordinary virtues of a bunch of men and decided to tell their adventures and admirable story. Together, the Monuments Men worked to protect from destruction of world war II monuments and other valuable treasures. During the last year of the war, the Monuments Men found, identified and returned more than five million objects stolen by Hitler and the Nazi. Their role in preserving cultural heritage is without precedent. And we preserve them also by knowing about them, just like Edsel did, who, with time, learned to distinguish what is precious in form from what is precious in our conscience. In Florence, he understood that it is not beauty that will save the world, but the world that has to save beauty. Vittorio Sgarbi