Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Reviewing the Years in Review

The year-in-review articles and posts have been trickling in, a number of which touch on art-law related matters. Derek Fincham has the Year in Cultural Policy, including the following on deaccessioning:

"One of the difficulties with deaccession stems from its connection to our fundamental view of art and museum governance. What is the nature of art? An art museum? Are either permanent? Can we trust the governing structures in our museums? Our inability to find common ground in crafting answers to these questions accounts for the continued difficulty. But if the arts community cannot come together and craft viable solutions to these difficulties, we are going to be left with weaker cultural institutions and risk losing more works as a result of financial difficulty."

Ed Winkleman's Top 10 New York Art World News Stories of 2009 included, at no. 2, the Salander debacle (Ed takes the opportunity to remind us that "Bernie Madoff is to Larry Salander what AIG's losses are to your personal 401(k)") and, at no. 1, the New Museum controversy.

The Boston Globe's Sebastian Smee reviews "a frankly incredible year in art," beginning with the Brandeis-Rose story ("The art world, the media, and a sizable swath of the public voiced strong opposition to the plan, and Brandeis eventually retreated - with mincing steps, it has to be said - from its original position: The museum would stay open, it promised, but it refused to rule out the possibility that art would be sold"), then "things got even weirder" with the arrest of Shepard Fairey "for graffiti-related activity" -- "embarrassing, sure - but worse was to come": Fairey's recent "admission that he had lied to a federal court judge about which photo of Obama he had based his 'HOPE' poster on. He had also destroyed evidence to cover up his lie. His lawyers dropped him. Fairey continues to do his thing, but he looks a little tarnished." Smee also mentions the controversy surrounding the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum's expansion plans.

Another Massachusetts-centric review mentions the Fairey arrest and the Rose story ("Though the museum director was let go, the remaining staff has mounted several shows including a recent retrospective that highlighted treasures of the Rose's collection of 7,000 works, valued at $350 million before the recession. While families and businesses everywhere must also make painful economic choices, the Rose Art Museum remains on legal life support reminding patrons all art comes at a cost").

Finally, a review of the decade in Pennsylvania includes a judge's ruling "in a years-long battle that the Barnes Foundation could move its multibillion-dollar art collection to downtown Philadelphia from suburban Lower Merion."