Trusted Eye: Post-World War II Adventures of a Fearless Art Advocate. Claudia Fontaine Chidester with a foreword by Ann Reynolds and essays by Graeme Reid and Dorothea Schöne.

Trusted Eye chronicles the rich and vibrant life of Virginia Fontaine, a gifted, formidable woman who turned the limitations imposed by her era into an adventure that will be the envy of every art lover who encounters it. Through a captivating mix of photos, reproductions, and narrative, as well as fascinating contemporaneous documents, her life in postWorld War II Germany comes into clear focus, illuminating her vital role in supporting artists and rebuilding the cultural fabric of the vanquished country in the bright light it deserves.

I wish I could have been along for the ride.

—C.F. Yetmen, author of That Which Remains

Order Details

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Venmo: @claudia-chidester, please write address and if attending the book-signing in notes field. In Texas $55 + tax=$59.54

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Early bird price: Trusted Eye $55, or with Work Standing Up $75

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About the book

Virginia Fontaine fought continually for recognition—as a woman and as a liaison, a photographer and an art curator. She was an avid documentarian, who through her journals and photographs, has preserved a uniquely intimate perspective into this period of time and her life among the ever-changing constellation of artists and friends who survived the war.

The chapters’ first-person accounts range from struggles with Yale Art School to life as an expatriate in the Tortola, BVI, to later managing the workers in a gun-parts factory. Virginia also describes helping the Jewish Underground, her travels with gallerists throughout Germany, her run-in with the Monuments Men, the international reach of Senator McCarthy’s into Germany, and failed attempts at finding paid work. Respective essays by Graeme Reid, and Dorothea Schöne, illuminate Virginia’s early years in Milwaukee and then her impact on the art culture of early postwar German.

…[Trusted Eye,] then, is not a memoir; it is a biography that subtly frames primary documents so that Virginia Fontaine’s voice draws the threads of her own life together to tell a history that we all need to hear.

Ann Reynolds

About the Author

Claudia Fontaine Chidester

Claudia Fontaine Chidester is the daughter of Paul and Virginia Fontaine. She was born an American in Germany in 1956, into an artist household. She was educated in American military-funded schools until the family moved to Guadalajara Mexico during her high school years. She earned her degree in art history from Wellesley College and pursued her passion for art research while working at the Smith College library. After earning her MLIS from University of Texas at Austin and while working in and teaching business research for 15 years, she founded the Fontaine Archive, designed to make available the letters, photography and diaries of Virginia Fontaine and the art of Paul Fontaine. The Archive’s first publication was Work Standing Up: The Life and Art of Paul Fontaine in 2013. It won the 2014 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award for design.

About the Contributors

Grame Reid

Graeme Reid is the director of collections and exhibitions at the Museum of Wisconsin Art. He previously worked at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center (Sheboygan, WI), the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette (IN), and the Swope Art Museum (Terre Haute, IN). Over the years, he has curated over 120 group and solo exhibitions and worked on the development and installation of institutional collections. He has taught art history and the humanities at Indiana State University and Purdue University and is a regular guest lecturer at colleges and museums in Wisconsin. Born in Scotland, Reid is a graduate of the University of Glasgow and Indiana State University.  

Ann Reynolds

Ann Reynolds is an associate professor in the Department of Art and Art History and the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Her recent publications include essays on queer histories, Joan Jonas, Ruth Asawa, Jack Smith, and Zoe Leonard. She is the author of Robert Smithson: Learning from New Jersey and Elsewhere (MIT Press, 2003). She is currently completing In Our Time, a history of New York artists and writers in the years 1940–1970 whose intergenerational relationship were shaped by shared, heterogeneous commitments to Surrealism and its legacy, primarily through a love of film.

Dorothea Schöne

Dorothea Schöne has been the director of the Kunsthaus Dahlem in Berlin since 2014. After receiving her master’s degree in art history and political science at the University of Leipzig, she was awarded a Fulbright Grant to pursue predoctoral research at the University of California, Riverside. She worked as a curatorial assistant at the LA County Museum of Art and has been awarded grants by the German Academic Exchange Program and the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C. Her PhD on postwar modernism in Berlin was published as Freie Künstler in einer freie Stadt. Die amerikanische Förderung der Berliner Nachkriegsmoderne  (DeGruyter, 2016).

More Fontaine Archive Publications

Interested in Paul Fontaine’s life and work? Check out Work Standing Up by Claudia Fontaine Chidester