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Art Attack with Lee Sandstead
July 23, 2009


Lee Sandstead: Before Art and After Art

Art historian and Travel Channel host Lee Sandstead welcomes each visitor at the door of the McEvoy Auditorium wearing what he called hippie pants ("genuine polyester, not the fake stuff we have today") with the effervescent greeting, "I'll be your speaker tonight." Fasten your polyester pants; it's going to be an interesting evening.

Sandstead, whose show Art Attack on the Travel Channel has taken him to museums around the country including American Art, lives up to his reputation as "the world's most fired-up art historian." I'd say if you're out having a coffee with Sandstead, make sure he orders a decaf; the man produces his own natural blend of enthusiasm.

But how did Sandstead make the transition from growing up "in a house that was on wheels" to becoming a big wheel in the art world? According to him, it was the combination of education, and, lucky guy, the influence of his French girlfriend, perhaps as he told us, "the only French woman living in Tennessee." Beauty began to surround him. Down went the NASCAR posters and up went the reproduction Rembrandt prints. His life can be divided into two periods: BA and AA, Before Art and After Art. And for Sandstead, the after is where all the fun is.

Sandstead loves the American Art Museum (as well as the Luce Foundation Center) and featured it in an episode of _Art Attack._ He considers it one of the great cultural institutions in the United States. He likes walking its halls and pointing out Albert Bierstadt's _Among the Sierra Nevada, California_ in its own room. The museum offers plenty of examples for Sandstead to talk about one of his favorite periods in American art, from about 1874, almost a decade after the end of the Civil War, to the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in 1922. And he mentions works by Abbott Handerson Thayer and J. William Fosdick. "I love the Smithsonian American Art Museum," he told us. "It's one of the highlights of my career."

What I liked best about Sandstead's presentation, aside from his sheer tsunami of energy, were his thoughts on museums and museum going. "It's not the once in a year Disney trip," he reminded us. "It's more about looking at a few things carefully each trip, rather than trying to take in everything at once. You do it every week. Laugh, cry, skip, but don't touch the paintings."

Posted by Howard on July 23, 2009 in Lectures on American Art


Life after art is always better than life before art! Lee Sandstead gets you fired up about art!

My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed your lecture at the Smithsonian last Wednesday night, and we along with the other folks in the audience came away as true believers that you are indeed, “the most fired up art historian in the world!”

Your knowledge of, passion for, and genuine ability to communicate your thoughts and ideas about art to your audience are truly remarkable. As we say in Texas, “you done good.”

My wife plans to take a trip to New York in September with our daughter and son-in-law to attend the semi-finals at the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament. Your lecture fired her up so much that she plans to make a special trip to The Metropolitan Museum of Art to see Madame X in person. She will be armed with her binoculars and camera, and now she knows “the rest of the story” about this piece. She also wants to see Duccio’s Madonna and Child, as yet again she will have so much depth of appreciation for this masterpiece after hearing your comments the other night.

A wonderful article! So proud of you Lee!

I learned of two sculptors through Sandstead: Daniel Chester French and Evelyn Beatrice Longman.

Their achievements--and the sad fact that they're not very well known (as well as why)--changed forever my view of art. And for the better.

I'm a big fan of Art Attack--and hoping for a season two!

I just saw Lee give his talk "Why I Love Art" and I absolutely adored it! Lee has the ability to jolt you up and transfer his incredible energy into you, making you more fired up about art than you've ever been! His knowledge of art history is extensive, his photos are fantastic and, most importantly, the art he presents helps you appreciate your most intimate and cherished values more than ever. An unforgettable experience!

This is really great stuff! My whole family thoroughly enjoyed ART ATTACK and I can't wait to see it again!

Are you telling me there is such as thing as fake polyester?

My thanks again to Lee for his innovative lecture and for all the wonderful comments that he has inspired! More Art Attack, please!

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