Thursday, March 29, 2007

"Who wants a gallery in aspic?"

SUNY-Buffalo professor and anti-anti-deaccessionist Bruce Jackson (seen earlier here) has a long piece in Buffalo's Artvoice on the last act of the Albright-Knox deaccession drama, with a particular emphasis on the members' meeting just before the sale (at which he was one of the speakers, and which resulted in a 3-to-1 vote in favor of the sale). He's convinced the museum acted responsibly:

"The series of auctions that began at Sotheby’s ... is the result of a three-year process. The Buffalo Fine Arts Academy board investigated, they hired consultants, they talked with top people in the field, they considered staff studies and reports and, when they had what they thought sufficient facts to make a responsible decision, they made it, and immediately told everybody about it."

And he's no fan of the Buffalo Art Keepers, the group that led the fight against the sale:

"The Albright-Knox Art Gallery, which is financially strapped, had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars defending itself against [the Art Keepers'] motion and lawsuit. An average new exhibit costs the Albright-Knox $50,000, so four, six or eight new exhibits are not coming to Buffalo because [of the lawsuit]. The stripped-down staff of the gallery ... dealt with almost nothing other than this challenge for nearly four months. All the curatorial, development and exhibition work that might have taken place in that time did not take place .... Whatever justification or rationalization might have existed before the [members'] vote evaporated when that vote was tallied. When [the Art Keepers] elected to continue the lawsuit in spite of that huge loss, they left the gallery and its membership behind and went off on a jihad entirely their own."

I mentioned last week that the initial sale yielded $16 million for the museum. A second sale brought in another $7 million. The remaining items will be auctioned separately in April, May, and June. Buffalo Business First has the full story here.