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APSU prof, former ABC News UN Bureau Chief loans historic Rethi drawings for Pearl Harbor remembrance

Tom Osborne, adjunct professor of political science at APSU, is loaning artist Lili Rethis historic United Nations drawings to be the centerpiece of the Pearl Harbor Remembrance celebration in Erin, Tenn.

The exhibit, Art vs. Terrorism, will be unveiled Tuesday, Dec. 7, at Erin City Hall.

In 1947, The New York Times commissioned Rethi to document the construction of the United Nations headquarters. The collection includes a drawing portraying the U.N. as Rethi conceived it might look at completion, according to early architectural designs.
Tom Osborne, adjunct professor of political science at APSU, is loaning artist Lili Rethi's historic United Nations drawings to be the centerpiece of the Pearl Harbor Remembrance celebration in Erin, Tenn.

The exhibit, “Art vs. Terrorism,” will be unveiled Tuesday, Dec. 7, at Erin City Hall.

In 1947, The New York Times commissioned Rethi to document the construction of the United Nations headquarters. The collection includes a drawing portraying the U.N. as Rethi conceived it might look at completion, according to early architectural designs.

This is only the second time in nearly 60 years that this work has been exhibited. It previously was shown at the United Nations headquarters in New York in 1992.

Osborne acquired the drawings while serving as ABC News UN Bureau Chief in New York from a benefactor who wanted to tell the story of the artist.

“As we remember the attack on Pearl Harbor 63 years ago, it is fitting that we celebrate this particular work of Miss Rethi,” said Osborne, Tennessee Ridge. “The fact that she fled Nazi Germany to avoid using her talents to glorify the Third Reich adds special meaning to her historic depictions of the United Nations.

“Her work and her story, particularly now, are all the more relevant when terrorism is on the rise in a different and more insidious form throughout the world. In the midst of this war on terrorism, I hope that Lily Rethi's story and this exhibit of her work will inspire and remind all of us to rediscover and protect our basic freedoms enshrined in the American Constitution—and also in the Charter of the United Nations.

“Miss Rethi defied the terrorists of her day, as we must in our own. It's ironic that her last work before she died was a series of drawings of the World Trade Center in 1967.”

Lili Rethi was born in Vienna. After being chosen by Hermann Goering, Hitler's chief aide, to do some drawings glorifying the Third Reich, she told him she had a commitment to draw a Danish bridge and asked to finish this work first. The permission was granted, and Rethi never returned to Germany.

She came to the United States in 1939 to draw the New York World's Fair for the Illustrated London News and remained to become a renowned specialist in the drawing of such marvels of construction as the renovation of the White House in 1950, Navy dry-docks and marine railways in World War II and the construction of large dams in Quebec.

Rethi died in November 1969 at the age of 73. Her work has been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Institution.
For more information, telephone Osborne at (931) 721-3632.
—Rebecca Mackey