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Stanley Meisler

Kofi Annan, U.N. secretary general and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, dies at 80
Kofi Annan of Ghana, whose popular and influential reign as secretary general of the United Nations was marred by White House anger at his opposition to the American invasion of Iraq in the early 2000s, died Aug. 18 at a hospital in Bern, Switzerland. He was 80. The death was announced by the Annan family and the Kofi Annan Foundation. The cause was not immediately disclosed. Current U.N. Secretary General António Guterres called Mr. Annan “a guiding force for good,” and added: “He provided people everywhere with a space for dialogue, a place for problem-solving and a path to a better world.” Mr. Annan, who pronounced his last name ANN-un to rhyme with “cannon,” shared the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize with the international body he led from 1997 to 2006. He owed his original triumph and his later turmoil to tense relations with the United States, but in some ways, he was an accidental secretary general...
August 18, 2018

Restoring the portrait of an artist: How a new exhibition is giving William Merritt Chase his due
Reputations can fall swiftly in the world of art, sometimes in mysterious ways. But few have fallen so far and remained so hidden as William Merritt Chase. Art historian John Davis reports that in the 1880s, when Chase was just in his 30s, “he had come to dominate the American art scene.” Many Americans hailed him as their finest artist. Many Europeans agreed. But in the last hundred years since his death, almost all this adulation has dissipated. He is no longer a household name. Americans who know something about his contemporaries and friends James McNeill Whistler and John Singer Sargent usually know nothing about William Merritt Chase. Patrons rarely rush to museums to see a Chase. Yet while the general public lost interest in Chase, the artist did keep special admirers...
June 23, 2016

Boutros Boutros-Ghali
Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the sixth secretary-general of the United Nations, died on February 16th in a hospital near Cairo at the age of 93. Since I covered the UN for the Los Angeles Times during his five-year term, I can add a few nuances to the obituaries that ran in the major newspapers. There is no doubt that he was denied a second term only because of the animosity between him and Madeleine Albright, the American ambassador to the UN during most of his term and the secretary of state afterwards. He looked on her as thin-skinned, undiplomatic, inexperienced, and bullying. She regarded him as overbearing, arrogant, stubborn, and erratic. A scholar and diplomat for many years, he believed that she felt any criticism of American foreign policy as chastisement of herself. She obviously felt that he failed to show due deference to the demands and requests of the most powerful nation in the world...
March 3, 2016

After Franco
A little more than forty years ago, after the death of the despicable dictator Francisco Franco on November 20, 1975, the world’s media began augmenting or opening their news bureaus in Spain. Editors feared that the death would unleash a second Spanish civil war. I became the first (and last) Madrid bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times. That war never came. Most Spaniards had become too mature and educated and wise for another awful conflagration like the one that decimated Spain and presaged the Second World War. They now longed to take their place among the democratic nations of western Europe. The path to democracy was led in a remarkable way by two men who turned their backs on the teachings of the fascist dictator who had empowered them. The surprising leaders were young King Juan Carlos and his young Prime Minister Adolfo Suarez. They moved slowly but surely, taking steps forward and backward, somehow making every decision, no matter how wrenching, seem inevitable by the time they made it...
January 2, 2016

An Old Jewish Joke
There is an old Jewish joke about a religious man shipwrecked on a desert island. When his rescuers arrive a couple of years later, they discover he has built three huts during his isolation. One is his home. The other two? “This is the synagogue I go to,” he explained, “and that is the one I don’t go to.” The joke is supposed to reflect the disputatious nature of Jews — you can’t put two in the same room without expecting an argument, you can’t even put one alone without the same argument. Since a joke makes you laugh, this one is supposed to reflect the lighthearted nature of the disputes — they never cause lasting pain. Jews argue with each other but, in the end, always love each other...
November 18, 2015

As Congress debates the agreement with Iran, there will be much bluster in the next couple of months about bomb grade fuel, breakout times, centrifuges, heavy water reactors, stockpiles of enriched uranium, and, of course, the impediments to inspection. But all this technical stuff will have nothing to do with what really bothers the most blustering of the nay sayers. In their view, we had the Iranians down. It hurt so bad they were screaming for us to let go. And now, for a bunch of promises, we are letting go. Soon they will bounce up, stronger than ever and just as defiant...
July 25, 2015

Gustave Caillebotte's role in Impressionist history illuminated in 'Painter's Eye'
In the late 19th century, everyone looked on Gustave Caillebotte as a leading painter of the Impressionists. He took part in five of the eight exhibitions that the Impressionists mounted. In fact, he organized and helped finance several of the shows. One displayed more than 25 of his paintings; another greeted visitors in the opening room with his stunning depictions of the new Paris. Caillebotte, a wealthy man, also purchased many paintings by his colleagues. He continually loaned money to an impoverished Claude Monet and paid the rent for his studio. Yet while the names of Impressionists like Monet and Auguste Renoir and Edgar Degas have lodged in the minds of all students of art for more than a century, there has been little or no room for Caillebotte. As Earl A. Powell III, director of the National Gallery of Art, puts it, Caillebotte "was left out of the early histories of Impressionism..."
July 10, 2015

Fame finally comes to little-known Renaissance master Piero di Cosimo
When American millionaires bought paintings by Piero di Cosimo in the late 19th century, almost all the works were attributed to other Italian Renaissance artists. Piero, a painter of Florence during its golden age, was simply regarded as too obscure to produce such masterful works. It took many decades for Piero to emerge even partly from such shadows. Not until 1938 did the private Schaeffer Galleries in New York mount a small show of seven paintings all correctly attributed to him. But there was no other Piero exhibition anywhere in the world in the 20th century. Art historians, however, continued to study the fascinating case of Piero, discovering more of his works, many of the highest quality...
February 14, 2015

Stanley Meisler


obituaries: Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times

In his memory, the Meisler family has established the Stanley Meisler Student Scholarship Fund to recognize exceptional undergraduates at the City College of New York.

Stanley Meisler - author of Shocking Paris: Soutine, Chagall and the Outsiders of Montparnasse, Kofi Annan: A Man of Peace in a World of War, United Nations : A History  and When The World Calls: The Inside Story Of The Peace Corps And Its First Fifty Years. Meisler served as a Los Angeles Times  foreign and diplomatic correspondent for thirty years, assigned to Nairobi, Mexico City, Madrid, Toronto, Paris, Barcelona, the United Nations and Washington. He continued to contribute articles to the Los Angeles Times Book Review, Sunday Opinion and Art sections and wrote a News Commentary for his website, www.stanleymeisler.com.

For many years, Meisler contributed articles to leading American magazines including Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the Atlantic, The Nation, the Reader’s Digest, the Quarterly Journal of Military History, and the Columbia Journalism Review. While most of these articles focus on foreign affairs and political issues, Meisler contributed more than thirty articles on artists and art history to the Smithsonian Magazine...

"What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure"
Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709 - 1784)

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