Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney: Artist, Patron, Collector

Born a Vanderbilt and marrying into the wealthy Whitney family, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney was an unusual upper crust matron. She was an artist. Her family and husband did not support her artistic ambitions, but Gertrude persisted, establishing studios in both New York and Paris and, by 1910, began showing her work under her own name. Her sculptures won several awards and were accepted at the Paris Salon of 1911. After the end of World War I, she focused on public memorials, many of which can still be seen across the United States.

Gertrude's wealth also allowed her to become a patron of the arts, and she was particularly keen to support fellow female artists. She used her influence to ensure that other women were included in group exhibitions and supported female-only shows. Among other things, in 1914, she established a club in New York where young artists could gather and chat, also providing housing stipends to help working artists make ends meet.

Gertrude also helped establish American art as, well, art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art declined her offer to donate her collection of almost 700 works of modern American art, because at the time, they did not accept works from the United States. So Gertrude decided to build her own museum. In 1931 she established the Whitney Museum, and she appointed a woman as its first director. The museum’s embracing of modernism was a huge institutional shift in the United States; it helped push American art from being seen as provincial and inferior to European art, to being unique and desirable in its own right.

Humanity Has Influenced The Evolution Of Bears?

Over twenty years ago, Sweden banned hunting female brown bears when they were still with their cubs. Reasonable right? Well, a recent study found that brown bears have evolved to care for their cubs an extra year! The increased time with the cubs decreases the mother's overall number of offspring, but it increases both the mother's and the cub's liklihood of survival.

High-Speed Wind Tunnel, and One of Its Technicians

Photograph taken in 1943, at the Langley Research Center in Virginia.

The World's Tallest Dam

On February 18th, 1911, and earthquake in Tajikistan caused a landslide. That landslide slid into a valley and created the world's tallest dam. Called the Usoi Dam, for the village the landslide buried, it stands at 500 to 700 meters (1,600 to 2,300 ft). Water seeps out the bottom, instead of over the top, meaning that the dam has not naturally eroded. So barring another earthquake, it is likely to retain its title.

“Homosexuality Is ... Nothing To Be Ashamed Of” Said Freud

Freud was wrong about almost everything. But he had a couple redeeming qualities, among them that he did not consider homosexuality an illness or something to be eradicated. Which was extremely ahead of his time. In 1935, psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud was contacted by a worried mother. She was seeking treatment for her son, who was apparently gay. Freud believed that all humans are attracted to both sexes in some capacity. So he responded with the following letter of advice:

Dear Mrs [Erased], I gather from your letter that your son is a homosexual. I am most impressed by the fact that you do not mention this term yourself in your information about him. May I question you why you avoid it? Homosexuality is assuredly no advantage, but it is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation; it cannot be classified as an illness; we consider it to be a variation of the sexual function, produced by a certain arrest of sexual development. Many highly respectable individuals of ancient and modern times have been homosexuals, several of the greatest men among them. (Plato, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, etc). It is a great injustice to persecute homosexuality as a crime – and a cruelty, too. If you do not believe me, read the books of Havelock Ellis.

By asking me if I can help, you mean, I suppose, if I can abolish homosexuality and make normal heterosexuality take its place. The answer is, in a general way we cannot promise to achieve it. In a certain number of cases we succeed in developing the blighted germs of heterosexual tendencies, which are present in every homosexual in the majority of cases it is no more possible. It is a question of the quality and the age of the individual. The result of treatment cannot be predicted.

What analysis can do for your son runs on a different line. If he is unhappy, neurotic, torn by conflicts, inhibited in his social life, analysis may bring him harmony, peace of mind, full efficiency, whether he remains a homosexual or gets changed. If you make up your mind he should have analysis with me — I don't expect you will — he has to come over to Vienna. I have no intention of leaving here. However, don't neglect to give me your answer.

Sincerely yours with best wishes,

Freud

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    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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