October 10, 2020

In financial stress from the pandemic, "Museums Sell Picasso and Warhol, Embrace Diversity to Survive."

Bloomberg reports.
Museums are not only selling works long off the market but acquiring pieces by female, Black and Latino artists, and -- they hope -- gaining new visitors who will see themselves reflected in the hushed halls.... 
This week at Christie’s, Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York, sold its sole Jackson Pollock painting for $13 million and Springfield Museums in Massachusetts offloaded a Picasso for $4.4 million.... 
“Museums have amazing power,” [said Adam Levine, the new leader of the Toledo Museum of Art] “When we put something on the wall, it becomes unimpeachably great.” It also becomes unimpeachably valuable, and museums are under pressure to give power and value to those who’ve been underrepresented. Levine’s first acquisition was Black artist Bisa Butler’s large-scale quilted portrait of Frederick Douglass, whose title alludes to his speech to abolish slavery.

Oddly, Bloomberg fails to tell us the title, but let it be known that it refers to his "speech to abolish slavery." (By the way,  "speech to abolish slavery" is also bad writing.) I looked it up. It's called "The Storm, the Whirlwind, and the Earthquake" and it was made just this year. But once it's on a wall in the Toledo Museum of Art it's "unimpeachably great," so what an admirable acquisition by the museum!

Indeed, every acquisition of the museum is "unimpeachably great," at least in the amazing power of the mind of Adam Levine.

In Baltimore, the city’s encyclopedic museum is selling three signature works -- by Clyfford Still, Brice Marden and Warhol -- to raise $65 million.

These are all white men made unimpeachably great by the hanging of their painted rectangles on the walls of museums. Take them off the wall... and then what?! Dump them on the market — while all the other erstwhile great junk floods the market — and use the proceeds not to keep museum workers on the payroll — these people are losing their jobs like mad — but to heed the call of an "imperative" wafting through the cultural air:

A key Abstract Expressionist who spent the final decades of his life on a Maryland farm, Still gave his “157-G” painting to Baltimore as a gift. It’s estimated to sell for $12 million to $18 million and some funds are to be used to buy works by women and people of color. “The imperative to act and address decades of inaction around equality in the museum is enormously important,” said Christopher Bedford, museum director. He says the emphasis on diversity will “ensure that the story we are narrating is the full and true story.”

Yes, ensure, please, ensure. Here, Andy, quick, paint this: 

Ah! The fullness! The trueness! 

ADDED: I've replaced the link at the top of the post with one that shows various artworks, including the painting Clyfford Still gave to the Baltimore museum, presumably to establish his unimpeachable greatness:
Is the museum somehow ethically obligated to hang onto that, when it can be converted into a 4296-foot-tall stack of one dollar bills? That's my conceptual art: a 4296-foot-tall stack of one dollar bills — representing the low-end estimate of the sale price of that Clyfford Still — 12 million dollars.

110 comments:

tim maguire said...

It’s sad to see museums auction off paintings to keep the doors open—like the Girl Guides in my province selling campgrounds to fund operations, once gone, they’re gone. The organization is diminished and they’ll never come back. But the other part if the equation doesn’t seem so bad—if by adding a different style of art to their walls, they bring in a while new class of people open to the arts, then good for them. Good for the community.

stevew said...

"Wet streets cause rain".

I vote to impeach the greatness of that quilt of Douglas; it's awful in the particular way that is designed to be catchy and unusual.

John Bragg said...

They're giving the game away. There are no standards, no substance in 20th century style art, no real value. 20th century art is only worth anything because it hands in museums.

So what is the value of the museum?

gilbar said...

so, after they fill the museums up with " unimpeachably great" woke works...
and no one comes to see them (or, at least darn few people come to see them)...
will they
a) go back to works people are willing to come to see ?
b) accuse all of us of being Racist Deplorables, for refusing to come see their woke works?

Kevin said...

Sounds like we’re moving from “it’s great because of the art” to “ its great because of what the art says about my institution”.

Maybe they should get Kaepernick to splash some paint around?

Pictures of mobs burning cops to death can be the latest “it” pieces for townhomes on the Upper East Side.

Nurseries in Architectural Digest can be covered in art by POC to keep the racist spirits away.

CWJ said...

"Dump them on the market, while all the other erstwhile great junk floods the market and use the proceeds not to keep museum workers on the payroll — these people are losing their jobs like mad — ..."

This reminds of the Kennedy Center getting $25MM to stay afloat only to lay off the orchestra immediately after the bill was passed.

MayBee said...

You have uncovered a great new money making plan for museums. Hang stuff on walls. Make it unimpeachably great. Sell it for huge profit. Buy next round of stuff.
This cannot go wrong.

buwaya said...

" but acquiring pieces by female, Black and Latino artists, and -- they hope -- gaining new visitors who will see themselves reflected in the hushed halls"

Nuts.
Will never happen. There is a minimum IQ needed to bother with that level of art anyway.
And, crazy thought probably, art museum goers skew very female. Why do they need female artists to draw women?

Who are they missing out of the categories of patrons they could possibly attract?
They could draw white men (of the sort that don't do much visiting of art museums, i.e. "deplorables", geeks and nerds), probably, if they tried sincerely to attract them out of the suburbs.

The Met(Metropolitan Museum of Art) in NY has a wonderful collection of arms and armor that they do not "sell" in these circles. And there is a lot more in the Met that can be tied directly to this. Just a for instance, though probably too obvious, currently on and ending soon -
"The Art of London Firearms"
https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2019/london-firearms/exhibition-object-highlights

They can do marketing like, for instance, the Tank Museum (in the UK) does through its excellent Youtube series.
They could do the same and connect to the history fans, wargamers, digital gamers, HEMA enthusiasts and all that lot that would rarely consider going to art museums.

Lucid-Ideas said...

Have to sell "Warhol to survive."

And nothing of value was lost. The end.

buwaya said...

As far as I'm concerned though they can sell as many Picassos and Warhols as they can dig up.
Better the billionaires stick them in their yachts, if thats what pleases them, so these things stop afflicting the people.

Fernandinande said...

quilted portrait of Frederick Douglass

Speaking of diversity, I wonder if she realizes that Douglass was mostly white.

signature works -- by Clyfford Still, Brice Marden

Does "signature" mean "my kid could've painted that!"?

Wince said...

But once it's on a wall in the Toledo Museum of Art it's "unimpeachably great"...

That automatic canonization of art hung there must be where the expression "holy Toledo" comes from.

Lash LaRue said...

But, is it art?

stlcdr said...

Two things came to mind:

Selling (giving) these pieces of art to the rich, who, we are assured by the press and the left to universally hate because they hoard their money and ‘trickle down economics’ is a lie; and

Once they have sold off the art, why would anyone go to the museum?

gilbar said...

buwaya said...
art museum goers skew very female. Why do they need female artists to draw women?

Who are they missing out of the categories of patrons they could possibly attract?
They could draw white men (of the sort that don't do much visiting of art museums, i.e. "deplorables", geeks and nerds), The Met(Metropolitan Museum of Art) in NY has a wonderful collection of arms and armor that they do not "sell" in these circles.

i'll bet the Met has a great collection of Charles Russell works, and even Frederic Remington's
I'll ALSO bet, that they're hidden away, where white woke women won't have to see them. Because if a white woke woman saw a painting, like Indian Maid at Stockade , they'd realize that REAL women are a LOT better looking than your typical white woke woman is

RNB said...

“When we put something on the wall, it becomes unimpeachably great.” (Cut to graphic of banana duct-taped to wall.)

Rory said...

"and no one comes to see them"

Audiences will be provided: school groups, social organizations, corporations will all supply bodies. Attendance will be taken.

Rory said...

"...acquiring pieces by female, Black and Latino artists..."

Universities did this years ago, except they acquired the people themselves.

Unknown said...

The moral is to never donate anything to a museum. Go ahead and sell it yourself and spread the dough around.

Bob Smith said...

Another art fad. It’ll run its course but when it does it will be because of racism. So There.

WK said...

I make most of my museum visit decision based on whether I can see myself reflected in their hushed halls.

Kate said...

My SiL is a fiber artist. Makes a living at it. I know how much work goes into her pieces, and she creates smaller quilts. I can't imagine the work in a life-sized piece. In that regard, I'm glad to see someone recognized. She deserves it.

The reasons for her exhibition are so wrong, though, that I end up hating the piece.

Mary Beth said...

They aren't displaying art that is great, the art is great because they are displaying it. This sounds like a fast way to get to the emperor's new clothes in visual arts.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Yeah mainline Protestant churches thought embracing Teh Gay would fill their pews, too. How’d that work out for them?

Expat(ish) said...

I guess the good news is that when the woke mobs torch the museums mostly they'll only get replaceable commodity art.

I really really enjoy modern art, though I am uninterested in skin color or what dangly bits the artist has. But even the stuff I really really like is easily replaceable either because (a) the artist is still making the art or (b) there was an entire movement making similar stuff and we are seeing the "category winner."

This piece at the Perez> is one of my favorites in the last 10 years. The artist is alive, and there are similar ones for sale reasonably (price of a car).

-XC

pacwest said...

A Jackson Pollack for 13 million? I guess my bid for $2.95 was too low.

traditionalguy said...

Art is a collectible like baseball cards. Auction it off. It’s the money that motivates everything.

Michael K said...

But the other part if the equation doesn’t seem so bad—if by adding a different style of art to their walls, they bring in a while new class of people open to the arts, then good for them. Good for the community.



Do you really think this will bring POC to museums? Other than to burn them down, of course.

robother said...

The Clyfford Still Museum in Denver will have to have a going out of business sale. Or maybe they can invite BLM activists in to retroactively collaborate on his art, using the techniques they honed in their defacing of the State Capitol?

mikee said...

Will the Madison downtown grafitti and plywood paintings ever be in a museum? Would such art be more valuable if there were scorch marks on the plywood? Do Antifa taggers sign their spray paint and firebomb work, or is it anonymously collective, like Marxism?

Which would draw more of a crowd in a fine art museum: a burned plywood painted with the lyrics from "Imagine" from a destroyed book store in Kenosha, or the rifle Kyle Rittenhouse used to protect his life from three murderous attackers there?

To paraphrase a Supreme Court Justice speaking about obscene porn, "I may not be able to define great art, but I know it when I see it."

Sam L. said...

I just can't care. Call me a barbarian, and I still won't care.

JAORE said...

But once it's on a wall in the Toledo Museum of Art it's "unimpeachably great," so what an admirable acquisition by the museum!

What a fabulous recycling program! /sarc

One suspects that the art being sold today will fetch millions. The diversity art sold off during the next "hard times" will be bargain bin material.

mikee said...

There is a sweet, hokey movie called "The Longest Ride" about the true value of great art. I recommend it to all Alan Alda fans.

Quayle said...

We’re starting to see what happens when people outsource their own discernment and judgment to the crowd. When “everybody” likes something because “everybody else” like that thing, the end result is repeated tsunami waves of fashion and imperative that will storm and slosh back and forth in the societal network fabric. Good catch Ann. Museums morphing from a place to house things that people like, into place to house things that people are required to like because it was so housed. They’ve adopted the social network company model that was so clearly portrayed in The Social Dilemma on Netflix.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

“The imperative to act and address decades of inaction around equality in the museum is enormously important,”

Liberals are such racist monsters. I'm not surprised to see the museums are home to White Supremacists

Defund the arts!

Original Mike said...

"[said Adam Levine, the new leader of the Toledo Museum of Art] “When we put something on the wall, it becomes unimpeachably great.""

Ha! I knew it!

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

and no one comes to see them (or, at least darn few people come to see them)...

I disagree. They'll always be a group of people who go to art museums just be able to lord their superiority over their inferiors.

Have you been to MoMa? That's art? But since it's on the wall it's unimpeachable great and the seals bark and clap.

Retail Lawyer said...

Museums have been declining for 20 years now. Visiting one has been like turning on NPR.

Sebastian said...

"and -- they hope -- gaining new visitors who will see themselves reflected in the hushed halls...."

Get woke, go empty.

"“Museums have amazing power,” [said Adam Levine, the new leader of the Toledo Museum of Art] “When we put something on the wall, it becomes unimpeachably great.” It also becomes unimpeachably valuable"

Which illustrates how wokeness makes progs unimpeachably stupid.

bbkingfish said...

The art world always has been a bigger hustle than the cosmetics industry. If Andy Warhol knew anything, he knew that.

ga6 said...

Memo to self:
1-buy canvas and oils
2-impressionist images of "Pajama Boy"
3-take digital photos of same
4-make many prints
5-call the one right wing black guy I used to work with
6-BIG PAYDAYS!!!!!!!

Ann Althouse said...

"You have uncovered a great new money making plan for museums. Hang stuff on walls. Make it unimpeachably great. Sell it for huge profit. Buy next round of stuff."

And that's why Andy Warhol called his studio The Factory.

Birches said...

Do the museums really think the masses want to see art by unknowns?

I understand selling stuff to raise money, but people visit museums to see something they've seen pictures of. And while they're there, they might see something else they like.

MD Greene said...

The theory that great museums help the proles see fine art doesn't resonate much with me as much as it used to do.

Museums now have HUGE inventoried collections of art that non-scholars cannot see. That art might as well be in the homes of rich collectors -- and much of it probably was before it was "donated" and written off at inflated values to the mighty "charitable" institutions who now hoard the stuff.

In Los Angeles, some of the collectors have opened their own museums instead. There are the Norton Simon, the Armand Hammer and, now, the Broad. But J. Paul Getty, who built a museum explicitly to share his collection with the public, bequeathed such a rich endowment that its newer iteration, up on a hill in Brentwood, appears to have much, much more space for warehoused art and the art experts who love it than for museum-goers to see. Flinty old J. Paul, who died in 1976, probably is rolling in his grave even today.

Several years ago, the Met Breuer put up a special exhibition of Anselm Kiefer works, drawn entirely from its own in-house collection. Nice of the museum to let us see the stuff, but after a few months, it all went back into the vaults. Maybe in 20 years, we'll get a chance to see some of those items again.

I'm pretty sure Kiefer and other artists would prefer their work to be seen and part of a broader discussion, but I have no idea how that could be arranged in the current environment.

RNB said...

Didn't a recent survey establish that 68 percent of African-Americans associate are museums with racism, Jim Crow, and lynching?

Krumhorn said...

Who can blame the curators for selling some of their unimpeachably great pieces to one set of hooples to finance their pandering to other hooples? When you are a museum, this is how you avoid being boogaloo’d.

- Krumhorn

I'm Full of Soup said...

It's so funny that they assume minorities currently don't go to museums because the art is mostly by whites. And they will now attend in droves [is that a racist phrase now?] because a few POC artists have their work displayed.

On a related point, the experts have been saying Hispanics are sure to support baseball yet the Miami Marlins attendance stinks forever.

Joe Smith said...

Arteeests are really full of themselves...they're worse than wine snobs.

Diversity is a racket and a dead-end street.

"And that's why Andy Warhol called his studio The Factory."

In that regard, Warhol was no dummy.

Phil 314 said...

That Fredrick Douglass quilt has a James Brown vibe going on. I can see him doing the boogaloo.

Ken B said...

So these paintings now disappear into the private collections of the super rich. What a surprise.

A reversal of the Mellon approach.

Mikey NTH said...

" but acquiring pieces by female, Black and Latino artists, and -- they hope -- gaining new visitors who will see themselves reflected in the hushed halls"



That's what they say, and maybe they can convince someone else that it is true, but my thought is that these new works are similar to a business putting up a Black Lives Matter sign or painting your doorposts with lambs' blood.

CWJ said...

"You have uncovered a great new money making plan for museums. Hang stuff on walls. Make it unimpeachably great. Sell it for huge profit. Buy next round of stuff."

Art laundering. Do the mob, cartels, and politicians know about this?

Bob Boyd said...

The Clifford Still painting is uglier'n a mud fence. Uglier'n a steakhouse baby.
It's no surprise the museum decided, that one we can live without.

Jay Vogt said...

It's interesting what's going on at museums.

My mom was a docent at a good one for a long long time. Many years ago, it was a "nice volunteer thing for mostly well to do women to do". In and around the turn of the century becoming a docent became a tough social hurdle for affluent middle aged women to break into. There was a time that even to be considered for that role, you had to make a sizable contribution to the museum or something associate with it. And that just got you on the waiting list.

Maybe ten or fifteen years ago, the european and caucasian heft of the art collections and the similar cultural esthetic of the museum executives and especially that of its contributors and volunteers came into play as a negative - a big one. This essentially soured the traditional point of view of museum leadership and made docents a dated and socially awkward presence that couldn't be remade and should really just disappear.

Of course the funding problem alone is huge and different.

The batch of solutions is hard to see.

Bruce Hayden said...

Good news for a good friend, widow of a decently well known Black artist, and their kids. She has spent the last couple years cataloging all of his paintings. He was able to sell it fairly well. She, not so much.

Krumhorn said...

I'm thinking of taking a guart mason jar over to Toledo and taking a piss in it. If I happen to drop a crucifix in it, I’ll make a killin’. That’s the ticket! A crucified Jesus immersed in warm piss! Now if I can figure how to boogaloo the hanging Christ arseways, I will be a legendary 👩‍🎨
artist.

- Krumhorn

buwaya said...

That Indian maid had better fashion sense anyway. Barbaric finery works.

By odd chance I've met quite a few Indian maids, Yaqui, Apache and Navajo - why that turned out so I have no idea - and they aren't fair of face or graceful of form.

Sofa King said...

Get woke , go broke.

As was pointed out, there is plenty of art that people want to see, that is widely enjoyed and that people will pay good money to experience.

Museums do not try to attract these people. They don't even want to. These people would be viewing the art for the wrong reasons: because they like it. Art these days is not supposed to be enjoyable. It is supposed to abuse, confuse, deconstruct, and alienate. Art which does not do this is "crap" and isn't appropriate for a real Art Museum. Maybe for a TGI Friday's or some rich person with no taste.

Fortunately there's still Hollywood to deliver things that people enjoy, though even that is starting to lose the picture and trying to mix too much medicine in the syrup.

BidenFamilyTaxPayerFundedCrackPipe said...

I never understood the importance of art that looks like the bottom of a trash can.

Spiros said...

Has anyone done a study on what is high art? Maybe neuroscientists can take a look at what happens to people who look at art that is considered great and art that is sort of garbage??? I bet most people will be moved by great art in similar ways, irrespective of the ethnicity or gender of the artist. And I bet a neuroscientist will be able to predict what is great and what sucks just from the results of his brain scans. BUT it seems like woke individuals (even museum directors!!!) are arguing that the concept of high art is illegitimate or void of meaning or somehow excludes minorities and women. Anything a museum puts on its walls is "high art"? That's bullsh*t. Bananas taped to walls and messy mattresses are not high art.

Anyways, this is the same debate from the 1970s. “Why have there been no great women artists?” The answer from the female haters is obvious: “There are no great women artists because women are incapable of greatness.” Same debate now but with minorities (the Black and Latino type, we know the Asians have a tremendous culture).

Sebastian said...

I think y'all are underestimating the prog offensive in this phase of the culture war.

Sure, selling off masterpieces for big $$ may seem stupid and futile, but it's only the first move--get rich SOBs to fund a few decades of risk-free wokeness.

Then, during those decades, change the rules of the game--force the rich SOBs to prove their wokeness by forcing them to buy the POC art, and force the populace to prove their wokeness by attending POC exhibits.

Not easy--the global art market needs rich Asians and Arabs who seem a bit more immune to woke appeals, and we deplorables are not very herdable so progs will have to target our kids first. Not easy, but progs will give it a good coercive try.

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

“—if by adding a different style of art to their walls, they bring in a while new class of people open to the arts, then good for them. Good for the community.”

Pretty sure the “new class” isn’t coming. I hit SAM two or three times a year and, despite how desperately they push some ethno-artist, the attendees are White as hell. Yeah, it’s Seattle but still....

wildswan said...

157-G looks like a close-up of Frederick Douglas's pants in the picture replacing 157-G. The trouble with what they are doing in the museums and college literature courses is that they are taking works which are in an identifiable traceable relation to an identifiable traceable tradition and which we therefore know are derivative and they are saying that these works are original and masterpieces and excluded because of racism. It's as if we were to take some white trumpeter, an admirer and follower of Miles Davis, and say his work was excluded from night clubs because he was white and that his playing was just as good as Miles Davis and then everybody had to play his work alternately with that of Miles Davis and say there was no difference. Even if he was as good as Miles Davis, he still would not be as original.
And museums are supposed to be training our eyes to see the subtle things that make one person good and another great. They aren't supposed to be imposing the currently correct. And moreover, if you ask me, these sales if they keep up, are very likely to turn out to be the moral equivalent of looting. In times of confusion real art often vanishes into the underground and things private collectors could never hope to acquire in normal times are readily available to them. After 1917 Russian icons were replaced by soviet realism and collectors in New York got the icons.

The Drill SGT said...

buwaya said...
The Met(Metropolitan Museum of Art) in NY has a wonderful collection of arms and armor that they do not "sell" in these circles.


My thought, nearly exactly. Mine was "The Met has some really beautiful Katanas and Lacquered armor". Course Japanese are not considered the right POC. I know they have some nice Chinese stuff as well. I'm sure that they have Moro Balasiong, Indonesian Kris, and Zulu Assegai.

I'm a Met guy, not a MOMA boy.

How did all those great museums get their founding collections of old dead white guys? From the donations old rich dead white gilded age guys.

They are now on a path to getting woke and going broke. I agree with your recipe for maintaining an audience, but they are headed for oblivion with their approach.

Want art from POC? Don't try to buy it. Why not chase the collections of old dead black athletes. Oh wait, not their shoe closets, their classic Bantu sculpture collections? There aren't many?

Like the NBA, I will not ever visit a museum that says their collection plan is to sell off all their good old art and buy only "art" from POC (less Asians) and women exclusively. Crazy talk...Georgia O'Keefe, she could paint.

Speaking of which, Ansel Adams has been canceled (indian racism), so if you see any good stuff on the market, let me know.

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

“Do the museums really think the masses want to see art by unknowns?”

I go to museums for the same reason I go to gun shows. To happen upon something unusual and unlooked for that engages my interest. The fact is that, unless you have the Mona Lisa hanging, “the masses” aren’t going to any art museum.

todd galle said...

This is the new direction of almost every institutional art and history organization. I'm in the belly of the Beast, and my organization is pushing this very hard. Diversity, Inclusion, Equity are the current watchwords in the museum world. The major problem was laid out above by several others, it won't work, a museum can't bring in the targeting communities. They are simply not interested. In a fit of amazing naivete, our historic site arranged with the county library system to allow free entrance to individuals with a library card. They could pick up a ticket at a local branch library and bring it along. 8 families took advantage of the offer during the first year. None belonged to the hoped for demographic.
Also note that they need to change their collections policy. If we sell de-accessioned pieces, the resulting income can only be used for new acquisitions (with the various sites retaining the money for use as they see fit, rather than the central HQ) or conservation of currently held objects. We can't use it for the electric bill or other services.

Michael said...

Blacks won’t go to museums to see black artists any more than they were attracted to Atlanta Thrashers hockey because the owners played rap music. And lots of it. It is not their thing. Nor is classical music even if every musician is black and the composers are all of color. Just not their thing. So tossing Goya and Bach off the bus is not going to do the trick.

Fernandinande said...

"There is no reason why liberalism should degenerate into a morbid passion for minorities..." -- H.G. Wells, in ~1923.

Rosalyn C. said...

That abstract expressionist painting you posted as given by Clyfford Still to the Baltimore Museum was painted by Jackson Pollock, and probably is a very early example of his drip style. You can see Pollock's signature in the lower right corner, especially if you crop it and enlarge. It's not really one of his best.

Here's an installation of Clyfford Still paintings at the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, CO.

gilbar said...

Buwaya said ...
By odd chance I've met quite a few Indian maids, Yaqui, Apache and Navajo - why that turned out so I have no idea - and they aren't fair of face or graceful of form.


Best looking woman i ever saw in my life, was a Oglala Lakota (Sioux)
Best looking woman i ever slept with was a Meskwaki (Fox) (and Yes, she was)
I've seen some pretty good looking Shoshone women too
Maybe you need to start looking in the north?

Yancey Ward said...

Sofa King gets to the core of the issue in one sentence:

"These people would be viewing the art for the wrong reasons: because they like it."

This is why the present collections are being liquidated. The museums are going to be less crowded, not more.

Christy said...

Baltimore City,in the Inner Harbor tourist area, has a rather wonderful Visionary Arts museum. Defined as primitive/outsider/self-taught. I remember being much struck by a black textile piece where the design was created by bleach used with a government supplied safe syringe. I also liked that some of the art reminded me of home made signs we'd see on the side of back roads on Sunday drives through Appalachia when I was a kid.

I wonder how, during normal times, its demographics compare with the Baltimore Museum of Art with their wonderful collection of Antioch mosaics and the marvelous Cone Collection, Matisse, Picasso, and the like, bought by the sisters directly from the artists in Paris starting during the Belle Epoque.

gilbar said...

Nor is classical music even if every musician is black... just not their thing.

as the saying goes; There are Two types of music: pop(ular), and Unpopular

Sebastian said...

"If we sell de-accessioned pieces, the resulting income can only be used for new acquisitions."

The selling and new acquisitions are reparations by another name.

The problem and advantage for progs is that it's never enough.

NCMoss said...

Selling off museum art just sounds like they're trying to stick it to the bourgeoisie; which currently bears a strong resemblance to something the bourgeoisie would do.

BUMBLE BEE said...

With the wealth exodus from the major metropolitan centers, just who is gonna donate to the museums? You're seeing a fire sale benefitting the Burghers' retreat in Aspen. As the economy implodes middle class/poor folks will be hustling to regain what finance they can. As Todd pointed out above, hardly anybody will spend bus fare to a museum. Nobody but Trump has tried to end the lockdown. The dems don't know how or care enough to pull U.S. out of the nosedive.

BUMBLE BEE said...

Ferdinande @11:15 Thanks for another learned quote.

Kevin said...

“When we put something on the wall, it becomes unimpeachably great.” (Cut to graphic of banana duct-taped to wall.)

Cut to graphic of President Trump duct-taped to wall.

Caligula said...

"When we put something on the wall, it becomes unimpeachably great."

So, you have an art establishment that can no longer distinguish between crap and "unimpeachably great" merely on the basis of the work itself.

Once you've reached that point the only reason to keep the doors open is to keep staff on payroll. But since that's the goal, sure, select your acquisitions according to Progressive Intersectional Stacking Order. Or any other criteria you find pleasing.

Obviously it's important to select art not on the basis of what was created but on the basis of who created it. Umm, isn't it?

And, please don't point out that that's pretty much how the Soviet Academy worked. That worked out well, didn't it?

Francisco D said...

Who are the people buying art created by Black and Latino artists? If they are White curators, isn't it racist to have White folks determine which Black and Latino artists are worthy?

Perhaps an Equity Commission is needed. Maybe it can overlap with the Reparations Commission and the Reimagine Police Commission that Kammy will institute.

It's a Brave New World we are living in.

Francisco D said...

Who are the people buying art created by Black and Latino artists? If they are White curators, isn't it racist to have White folks determine which Black and Latino artists are worthy?

Perhaps an Equity Commission is needed. Maybe it can overlap with the Reparations Commission and the Reimagine Police Commission that Kammy will institute.

It's a Brave New World we are living in.

ALP said...

"see themselves reflected in the hushed halls...."

I would love an entire post and discussion on this concept - the 'seeing yourself' in things around you. Why is this so important? Art can be a lot of things but a reflection of myself - not on the list and a bit self absorbed if you ask me. But I am not upset about the overall evolution in what museums choose to show. Time marches on, the world is a big place - getting the focus off of a handful of well known artists is not a bad idea. Institutions can be stuffy like that - wouldn't hurt to expand a bit.

Narayanan said...

no prize for guessing the author ?
… Art is a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist’s metaphysical value-judgments. Man’s profound need of art lies in the fact that his cognitive faculty is conceptual, i.e., that he acquires knowledge by means of abstractions, and needs the power to bring his widest metaphysical abstractions into his immediate, perceptual awareness. Art fulfills this need: by means of a selective re-creation, it concretizes man’s fundamental view of himself and of existence. It tells man, in effect, which aspects of his experience are to be regarded as essential, significant, important. In this sense, art teaches man how to use his consciousness. It conditions or stylizes man’s consciousness by conveying to him a certain way of looking at existence.
----------==============
the decisions by the museums are accurate reflection of their value judgments … to condition and stylize the culture and ensure a certain continuity.

but they still need capitalism of a sort to fund their strategems (a plan or scheme, especially one used to outwit an opponent or achieve an end.) against capitalism aka the productive human

wholelottasplainin' said...

Fernandinande said...
quilted portrait of Frederick Douglass
***********

I have a nice portrait of Elvis painted on black velvet. Got it in Tijuana.

I guess that makes me rich!

wholelottasplainin' said...


For years over at AceofspadesHQ, someone with the initials CBD has posted a painting (occasionally a sculpture, IIRC) each work day.

They are always worth a look.

Here's yesterdays:

https://uploads0.wikiart.org/images/frank-dicksee/portrait-of-elsa.jpg

Narayanan said...

has this been curated / value estimated?

James K said...

I wonder if she realizes that Douglass was mostly white.

Not to mention a staunch Republican.

BUMBLE BEE said...

All I hear/read is "an uptick in cases pointing to a second wave" of Covid -19 cases. As if "cases" equivocate to "illnesses". Corona-porn is gonna kill off a lot more businesses for lack of attendance. Museums as well. Fear itself.

JAORE said...

Can an undiscovered "Rachel Dolezal"/imitation POC be far behind?

Seems like an easy path to move up in the art world.

RobinGoodfellow said...

So, they’re getting rid of the white male artists and buying the female and POC artists.

They’re so avant-garde they are now just garde.

RobinGoodfellow said...

“ Blogger tim maguire said...
It’s sad to see museums auction off paintings to keep the doors open ...”

It doesn’t sound like they are selling paintings to keep the doors open. They are selling works by white male artists to buy works by female and minority artists.

Chennaul said...

Ugh.

Wish I could start with something else but, oy.

Pittsburgh, the relatively small town of Pittsburgh, I thought they had a great art museum.

I go to Shanghai, we go to various museums and they are.....eh. Maybe the word is sad.

Doubly depressing is that the people are starving for it. You can see it, in the lines, their faces....

And...I don’t know I am told the Kuomintang took all the good stuff to Taiwan. ( Did we save a lot of art during WW II in The European theater?)

(Pittsburgh population 300,000: Shanghai population 24 million)

Greg The Class Traitor said...

Museums are not only selling works long off the market but acquiring pieces by female, Black and Latino artists, and -- they hope -- gaining new visitors who will see themselves reflected in the hushed halls....


Let's see how that works out for them.

I'm interested in great art. I'm not interested in "affirmative action" "art".

So they've lost my attendance.

Get woke, go broke

ALP said...

Another thought: are museums "better" than galleries? Seems to be implied here. Museums should house a selection of pieces indicative of the era they were made and that withstood the test of time. Galleries are more inclusive, smaller, specialized - are there not enough galleries showing work of marginalzied people? Why are galleries considered inferior? Galleries generally don't charge admission - thus diverse offerings on a budget. Win win.

tim in vermont said...

Cargo cult thinking, it’s everywhere.

The only thing that I can even remember seeing at the MoMA was that huge Jackson Pollock, and I have to admit it’s pretty good. Maybe it’s just that scale has a quality of its own, but whatever. The rest of the museum was just walking and climbing stairs, which is always a good way to spend time, not knocking it.

Music is the ultimate abstraction, and it’s funny to hear people who love music bash abstract art. But yeah, a lot of abstract art seems like it’s not just that I don’t get it, more like this person wanted badly to be an ‘artist’ and this was the best they could manage.

Maillard Reactionary said...

That painting by Still brings to mind a Chicago street scene after a drive-by shooting, when a stray bullet hit the mustard jar on a nearby hot-dog cart.

Very evocative. I can just smell it.

FullMoon said...

Clyfford Still — 12 million dollars.
Worth every penny, if not more.

Craig said...

99% of these diversity efforts cater to the narcissism of white liberals.

Craig said...

99% of these diversity efforts cater to the narcissism of white liberals.

Richard Dolan said...

Amazing how critical standards have completely flipped. Is the idea to focus on the artist’s biography or just the work of art? The new critics rebelled against the old biographically focused approach, insisting that the critic needed to focus on the work itself. The Crits, in their wonderful way, now insist that the formalism so beloved by the new critics is just another power structure in service of a narrative of domination. There is nothing about the works so revered up to now — Picasso, Cezanne, de Kooning, Pollack, etc. — that makes them worthy of attention than any other work. The push to acquire works because they were created by POCs Is the natural consequence.

What a world the Crits are trying to create.

DanTheMan said...

>>Best looking woman i ever saw in my life, was a Oglala Lakota (Sioux)
>>Best looking woman i ever slept with was a Meskwaki (Fox) (and Yes, she was)
>>I've seen some pretty good looking Shoshone women too

Any Hottentots? That would seem to be more on point here...

Yancey Ward said...

I am glad I was the only one mesmerized by the Still painting. Such modern works are not really of interest to me most of the time, but that one is on a different level than most.

Yancey Ward said...

I am glad I wasn't the only one.

Yancey Ward said...

"Who are the people buying art created by Black and Latino artists? If they are White curators, isn't it racist to have White folks determine which Black and Latino artists are worthy?"

LOL! I bet the lily white curators didn't think of that, did they? By what right do they still have their jobs in this racist world of art?

n.n said...

Diversity, a color judgment, denial of individual dignity, denial of individual conscience, denial of intrinsic value, normalization of color blocs, color quotas, and affirmative discrimination, a Progressive dogma of the Pro-Choice Church, not limited to racism.

Rosalyn C. said...

"Red Composition" by Jackson Pollock, painted in 1946 Everson Museum’s Jackson Pollock painting sells for $12 million at auction

Jackson Pollock: Drip Discovery "Jackson Pollock was an influential American painter and the leading force behind the abstract expressionist movement. He transformed the art world when he introduced his first drip paintings in 1947."

Just as I thought, the Pollock painting sold for $12 million was a very early experimentation with the drip technique. Not a great painting but historically important because of Pollock's influence on painting.

In contrast, the work by Bisa Butler is not in the same league in terms of her influence on the trends of the art world. She is clearly an accomplished artist and her work relates to a current trend in work which emphasized materiality and craft. For more on that theme see youtube lecture Warren Seelig: Materiality and Meaning But she is not breaking new ground. And unfortunately the crass comment by the museum director Adam Levine does her a disservice by reducing her acquisition to a affirmative action hire. I agree with a lot of what Ann has said about this and what it means financially for the artists of color and women.

Art is a luxury market item, despite the aspirations of liberals, as witnessed by the video by JayZ and Beyonce at the Louvre: APES**T - THE CARTERS.

Not sure how or if that world of high art and prestige collectors will attract the black community other than on a consumerism level -- as luxury designer items: sneakers, handbags, etc. Not a coincidence that the major black artists produce work which is grandiose and not focused on the downtrodden and victims of society.

ken in tx said...

"By odd chance I've met quite a few Indian maids, Yaqui, Apache and Navajo - why that turned out so I have no idea - and they aren't fair of face or graceful of form."

Try true Cherokee, but get'em before they get fat. Some of them are real knockouts.

I'm Not Sure said...

"By what right do they still have their jobs in this racist world of art?"

Well, of course, *that's* different.

McCackie said...

Looks like they're at the "Wearing the Skin" phase.

glacial erratic said...

Art in the past: Inspire, enlighten, and educate.
Art today: Whammen good! White men evil! POC uber alles!

I'm sure the gangs in the hood will now start attending en masse.