Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Pop Quiz (UPDATED 2X)

If I told you someone held the following views:

"The art can be the art anywhere. It can be seen anywhere."

"[S]omewhere such as the High or Seattle would be delighted to beef up their American paintings collections, and if/when they do so ..., they'd likely beef up their curatorial focus on such work."

"[N]o, it doesn't matter much to me that the work stay in NYC. The art is more important than the geography."

. . . you'd probably guess that person would be pretty relaxed about the whole idea of deaccessioning, wouldn't get too worked up about things if, say, a painting moves from the National Academy to LACMA, or from the New York Public Library to the Crystal Bridges Museum.

Guess again.

UPDATE: In an update, Tyler accuses me of "intellectual dishonesty" for taking the above quotes "out of context" (even though I included links back to both relevant posts, so people could see their full contexts). But the whole point of my post was that in this debate people say one thing in one context and other, often inconsistent things in another context. It's the same point I've been making (ad nauseum) about sales to fund the purchase of more art vs. sales to fund other worthy purposes. In the first case, people don't bat an eye; in the second case . . . well, you know by now.

UPDATE 2: Tyler has a further update in which he says I don't "understand the specifics of the issues." Of course I'm not suggesting that we "ignore the context." My point is simply that if you say, for example, that it's "chipping away at the institution" to sell work for reasons other than buying more art but it doesn't chip away at the institution to sell work to buy more art, it's not a sufficient response to just insist that "they're different contexts." Similarly, if you say in Context A (i.e., a failed instituion) that "the art can be the art anywhere, it can be seen anywhere," then it's fair to wonder why the same point doesn't apply in Context B (i.e., a sale by a failing, but not yet failed, institution). There may be reasons why a sale is still not justified in Context B, but it takes more than just pointing out that the contexts are different. Or at least that's how it seems to me.