Thursday, December 07, 2006

Comment on the Art Sale

The other morning, driving home from my overnight shift, WBFO played some of the many calls that they have received since the announcement of the art sale. Not many comments were positive...
Well, much has been written about the "deaccessioning" of 200 pieces of classic art at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Artvoice did a good story a few weeks ago.
I'm not going to get on the soapbox, except to comment on the educational angle. I remember the wonder I experienced as a kid of seeing the antique art work. Wow. How old is this? What were these people like? What kind of tools did they use? I have nothing against the contemporary works. I'm an artist living in these times. I know that the Albright wants to keep up with the times. They do have a pretty healthy endowment, though. I think the wonder of the kids that view ancient works of art. Personally, I think that starts the journey of the appreciation of all art. Sorry, I thought that's what this museum thing is all about....
So, please feel free to comment on this. Honestly, I am still torn a bit by the topic, so comments are gladly accepted (Logging in as anonymous will get you past the whole open an account thing)



Blogger EAL said...

Over the past thirty years, I've spent a lot of time in the Albright-Knox, but I've never been as excited about their programming and collection as I have recently. The new exhibitions are ambititous and often fun. The collection reinstallations keep you on your toes. That's the way it should be.

In the all those thirty years, I didn't need to be told that the mission was focused on modern and contemporary art. That was obvious. Indeed, I barely remember ever laying eyes on the "antiquities," and the small installations of them I did see underscored their minor role in the collection. I'm fine with the sale.

So, as requested, that's my two cents. I have to tell you, when I hear all the bemoaning of this, I have to wonder what museum they're talking about. Not the one I know.

8:45 PM  
Blogger Jaquandor said...

I guess I'm a little confused: are they selling off every piece antiquity they own, or just a selected portion of them? I find it a shame that this is necessary, and I further find it a shame that many of these works will probably end up in private, and therefore unaccessable by the public, collections -- but then, having them sitting in a basement at the A-K amounts to much the same thing, I suppose.

And ultimately, since I average a visit to the A-K an appalling once per decade, I don't feel that I have much right to complain about it!

11:00 PM  
Blogger EAL said...

Actually there is a LOT left. This is just a portion. But unless the Albright gets more space, it's unlikely we'll be seeing much of it.

The space issue is a much bigger deal than this deaccession thing, which is a non-issue IMO. They need a place where the must-sees of the permanent collection can be shown when the more ambitious temp shows like Extreme Abstraction are on view.

10:53 PM  
Blogger val said...

Kathi Russell wrote this comment via email ( made sure to warn that a lot is heresay):

" I did have someone point out a few things to me recently which shed some new light on the subject ---that much of the work the AK is trying to sell off hasn't even been seen by the public in over 50 years. So in some ways we don't know what we would be missing. Also---I guess a fair amount of it was "gifted" by donors ( this is often for the tax write off)---this puts into question the quality of some of the pieces. Then the latest suggestion has been that the AK may be trying to raise money to "add on". I suppose expanding would make for some reasonable argument for selling off work that's been collecting dust...but then why not just be straight up about it? Still---I know the Birchfield raised 20 million to build the new museum and they haven't sold off a thing.... so I guess when all is said and done I would prefer that the AK attempt to do the same., and then get out their feather dusters and let us see what they've been hiding all these years in storage!"

12:32 PM  
Blogger EAL said...

Hmmm, the Burchfield making a ton of money selling off some of their storage? I don't think so. The main thing they have is Burchfields. And that would be kinda counterproductive.

But, you know, behind what Kathi is saying is the fact that a lot of very knowledgable and responsible people spent a lot of time making these decisions--also using expert advice. As a former museum employee, I can assure you that this type of decision is never made lightly.

Like I said, I really think the Albright is heading in an exciting direction. Have you seen their new remix installations? Very refreshing. I can remember when you could walk in there and get to the Pollack blindfolded. Every painting was where it had been for twenty years. Not a recipe for survival for a small museum. They must grow--and they must acquire new work aggressively (as they did in the 50s and 60s when they bought the Pollack, Rothko and so much more).

3:10 PM  

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