Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Despite considerable opposition

The New Yorker reminds us that leading Christie's two-day sale of twentieth-century Latin-American art this week is Rufino Tamayo's “Trovador” -- "it is being sold off, despite considerable opposition, by the museum of Randolph College to benefit the school’s endowment."

Anne Yastremski, the unofficial leader of that considerable opposition, had an op-ed in this Sunday's Washington Times arguing that the school has enough money without having to sell any art. She specifically objects to the planned construction "of a costly new artificial turf track and field facility" (adding, for emphasis, that "Randolph College has no track and field team"). She does mention, however, that the school "abolished the American Studies, Anthropology, German, Japanese, and Russian departments this year." So it's clear even from this piece that you can't have everything. There are always going to be trade-offs. The question, as I argued last week, is who gets to make those decisions? Shouldn't school administrators and trustees have some latitude to weigh the costs and benefits of various courses of action -- including, if they deem it best under the relevant circumstances, the sale of certain works of art -- without always having to defend their decisions in court?

The "Truly Educated" Heather Hope argues against a "black-and-white" approach to deaccessioning here.