October 28, 2016

Why did this American couple give their great art collection to a French museum?

"In the end, 'we decided to give it where we thought it would be appreciated the most,' [Spencer] Hays said on Wednesday, speaking in a Southern drawl and sitting in the couple’s cozy art-filled pied-à-terre [in Paris]. Their place is a short walk from the Musée d’Orsay, where the works will one day be on display — the largest foreign donation to France since World War II..."
“We told [France’s culture minister, Audrey Azoulay] we had decided to give all of our art to the French people,” Mr. Hays said. “The only thing we wanted to be sure she would do for us, we wanted it in one place, we want it all together, we don’t ever want any of it to be sold, and we never want it to be stored; we always want it on the wall.”...

Some might have hoped that the art would remain in the United States. “I felt guilty about that for a long time, but then I realized that more Americans would see the art here because so many people go to the Orsay,” Ms. Hays said, sitting in an Art Deco chair beneath two Bonnards and a Vuillard, two cornerstone painters in their collection.

29 comments:

Michael K said...

The Muslims will burn down that museum in, oh, about 30 years,

traditionalguy said...

Wait until the ISIL Muslims get their smelly hands on it, when they arise and conquer France. It won't be sold or stored. It will be blown up or burned.

buwaya puti said...

Because its French art.

virgil xenophon said...

I see Michael K and trad guy beat me to it. Better enjoy it all while it lasts--from the Louvre to the Victoria & Albert to the British Museum and everything in between everywhere in Europe..

virgil xenophon said...

Adios America? No, Coulter was wrong. Adios all of Christianity, Western Civilization and the white race, suicidally naive fools that we are..

Ron Nelson said...

Maybe somewhere in Texas (ironic, no?) they need to be preparing to be an art refuge for Muslim-targeted artworks. Have we not learned from the Bamiyan Buddhas and Palmyra?

mccullough said...

Describing a chair as Art Deco is a worthless description especially when it's shown in the photo.

virgil xenophon said...

buwaya/

Are you saying you believe that to be the Hays' pov or it's your belief about the "cultural appropriations" mantra in general, e.g., the Elgin Marbles should go back to the Greeks.

Achilles said...

Blogger Michael K said...
"The Muslims will burn down that museum in, oh, about 30 years,"

I am not as confident as you are that Islam will survive the Iranian attack on Israel.

Rusty said...

How wonderfully generous of them.

Curious George said...

"Michael K said...
The Muslims will burn down that museum in, oh, about 30 years"

30 years? If I had a choice, 30 minutes or 30 years, I would go 30 minutes. France is done.

The Godfather said...

Yet another reason to vote for Tromp?

Mike bruno said...

From the looks of the photo accompanying the article...I'm thinking they're Hilary voters.

(almost all my wealthy friends with Paris apartments and art collections are)

Freeman Hunt said...

“I felt guilty about that for a long time, but then I realized that more Americans would see the art here because so many people go to the Orsay,”

Ha ha ha.

bagoh20 said...

The paintings shown in the article are some bad art anyway. If the rest is like that, they can have it. Not even one eagle or boob in the bunch.

bagoh20 said...

Is giving things away when you are old even generous at all. I mean, it's not greedy, but what's the alternative, being buried with it?

Achilles said...

I am sure they will get lots of support and kind remarks at their cocktail parties.

Sebastian said...

“The only thing we wanted to be sure she would do for us, we wanted it in one place, we want it all together, we don’t ever want any of it to be sold, and we never want it to be stored; we always want it on the wall.” That's not one "thing." That's a lot of conditions.

Curious George said...

L’Homme et les Deux Chevaux”

I've seen better held to a refrigerator by a magnet.

Michael K said...

I am not as confident as you are that Islam will survive the Iranian attack on Israel.

Yes, and the sad part of that is that most Iranians have given up on Islam if they are not members of the IRG.

David Goldman in his book, "How Civilizations Die", writes that mosque attendance in Iran is 2% or less among ordinary people. The Regime might well have been overthrown if Obama had not thrown his lot in with them.

The Iranian birth rate is lower than most European countries.

Obama may have condemned them to die.

traditionalguy said...

Our favorite Professor of Arts History just unloaded on Hillary as the secret puller of the power levers. And she noted that a Trump victory will destroy the GOP, The Democrats, and the Media, which will unleash tremendous energy into a society that has been bottled up.

Go Camille.

Balfegor said...

In April, the Hayses met with France’s culture minister, Audrey Azoulay. “We told her we had decided to give all of our art to the French people,” Mr. Hays said. “The only thing we wanted to be sure she would do for us, we wanted it in one place, we want it all together, we don’t ever want any of it to be sold, and we never want it to be stored; we always want it on the wall.”

If the Musee D'Orsay -- of all places -- was willing to accommodate this requirement, it must have been decisive. I can't imagine that they could get that kind of agreement from any of the prominent US museums, so they'd be down to small regional museums you have to make a special detour to see.

buwaya said...

Virgil,

No, I think its because in France it would likely be in a collection with the other stuff in its genre and you could see a whole lot of it in its proper context.

In the US it would likely be something in an eclectic mess, somewhat like a civic attic. Consider the SF Legion of Honor or De Young.

Speaking like a collector.

R.J. Chatt said...

Another theory: Art museums in France are largely financially supported by the government. France just increased funding to art museums to compensate for the drop in tourism. The country seems to be in a death spiral financially and politically is in a collision course.

In the US art museums get some government support but mostly are funded by private individuals. That's why in the US art museums lately seem to be breaking their "ironclad" contracts with donors and selling work to stay solvent or make money for other purposes: Brandeis Rose Art Museum, Barnes Foundation immediately come to mind. Anyone who seriously wants to keep their collection intact would not trust an American museum to honor their agreement longterm. I think that's what was meant when the article pointed out, "French law forbids national museums from selling anything in their collections, unlike many museums in the United States, which can de-accession works." And "In America I think we’re better than the French at entrepreneurship,” Mr. Hays said. ... But France is better at teaching culture and letting people know the importance of culture.”

John Constantius said...

I would be surprised if the requirement that the collection always be on the wall survives the donors for more than a year, unless they have specifically funded a venue to make it so. Like many museums, the Orsay has way more art then it could ever actually display, and rotation is the name of the game.

The problem for the collectors and their heirs is how they enforce the agreement and if they even bother to... My guess is that the Orsay shuffles half or more of this stuff into storage and waits for lawsuits to challenge the decision (which will never come). For that matter, if the Orsay chooses to sell the collection, who will raise legal complaint? Contracts are exactly as valid as people's willingness to try to enforce their terms.

The collectors would have done much better to auction the collection off on eBay then to donate it to "the people of France" who I guarantee you don't give a shit.

CWJ said...

As I recall, the Orsay is a "theme," maybe genre, museum for lack of better words. From what I saw in the linked article, the collection would be right in its wheelhouse. So to me the donation makes sense. But the art on the wall in perpetuity requirement? Yeah, I don't that surviving long unless these shmoes are building a wing to go along with their donation. Maybe the Orsay has plans for redecorating the rest rooms from time to time. Now there would be a sneaky way to honor the wall requirement.

Big Mike said...

Because it's their art and they can donate it to whichever museum they want to.

Steve said...

They probably saw what the Philadelphia Museum of Art did to the Barnes Foundation and decided that US law couldn't be relied upon to protect their wishes.

Jose_K said...

In the end, people will keep their attention in the Origin of the World