Friday, September 12, 2014

Tell me again about the public trust (one of O’Keeffe’s best-known paintings edition) (UPDATED)

The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is selling three paintings, including "Jimson Weed (White Flower No. 1)" from 1932, which is estimated at $10 million to $15 million.

Three paintings which, having fallen under the aegis of a museum, are held in the public trust, to be accessible to present and future generations.

Three paintings whose sale will certainly cause potential future donors to ask, Why should I give this to you? What guarantee do I have that you're not going to sell it?

UPDATE:  My friend Peter Dean emails:

"I understand that the museum police have a self-created exception to their self-created rules about de-accessioning, but it does seem a bit odd for an O’Keeffe museum to sell O’Keeffe paintings with the proceeds to be placed in the museum’s acquisitions fund, which will be used to purchase  . . what? More O’Keeffe paintings?  To fill gaps?  We are going in circles.

"Even if one tries to follow the logic of allowing sales to 'refine' a collection, in this case one of the three paintings seems to have especial provenance (display in the White House), value and merit.  How does that fit with 'refinement'?"