Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Thursday, August 22, 2019

"It is important to stress that our decision to take this course of action was not made easily or lightly, and it is the only viable solution that will allow for the organization to continue to remain open and serve our community."

The di Rosa's executive director has written a letter in response to the one mentioned here.  He basically says they don't have enough money and the choice now is to either "grow the endowment to provide a sustainable future for the organization" or "close our doors forever."

Anyone who has followed these debates will know that that is an argument that carries no weight with the Deaccession Police.  As Graham Beal, who apparently is working with the di Rosa, has put it, "the institution is there to safeguard the art. The art is not there to support the institution."

The "non-collecting entity" gambit also seems to have been abandoned.  The letter says "our plan, of course, calls for maintaining a legacy collection of several hundred works" and also refers to "new to-be-commissioned works."

"It’s very ignorant and backward to think that you can erase history, erase reality by destroying art."

Alice Walker is against the destruction of the San Francisco murals:

"Ms. Walker, who is also a poet and activist, criticized the stance that the images traumatize young people. Her daughter went to Washington High School and was not traumatized, she said. 'This feeling that everybody now is so tenderhearted that they can’t bear to know their history is ridiculous.'"

Other views here.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

"We respectfully ask the director and the board to acknowledge and honor these unique circumstances by identifying an alternative institution to house, preserve, and appropriately utilize this unique collection. Failing to do so would lead to an irretrievable loss to the international art community."

An open letter regarding the di Rosa Foundation's planned deaccessioning.

Their plan to become a non-collecting institution that nevertheless "continue[s] to hold several hundred works" (you might even call that a "collection") does not seem to be working out so well.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

"At the time of his arrest, the artist had draped a Cuban flag over his shoulders as part of a thirty-day performance, titled Drapeau, in protest of a new law passed earlier this year that regulates how national symbols can be displayed."

Artforum:  "Cuban artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, a staunch activist for artistic freedom in the country, was arrested outside the Museum of Dissidence in Havana on Saturday, August 10 and released two days later. Alcántara has previously been harassed and detained by the police on numerous occasions for his involvement in the campaign against Decree 349, the legislation that restricts independent cultural activity on the island."

"HBO sought to have the case dismissed last November, claiming that its use was 'transformative' enough to be considered fair use"

Motion to dismiss denied in an infringement case involving the use of a painting in a true-crime documentary.  The work is apparently "shown for over 25 seconds in one of the last frames of the documentary."  Story here.  Summary of the opinion (including a link to the full thing) here.

Playing Darts with a Rembrandt

Except it wasn't darts and it's not a Rembrandt:  Artist Sues Country Rapper Who Shot Paintings With Assault Rifle.

Headline reference here.

Brian Frye:  "Interesting VARA claim. Seems like the defendant might have a 'fair use' argument? At the very least, the claim certainly implicates free expression."

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Do "non-collecting entities" hold their (non) collections in the public trust?

Last month, in a highly creative use of spin, Napa, California's di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art announced that they were going to start selling works to provide funding for their endowment, but it wasn't really a case of prohibited deaccessioning, it was just that they had "voted to cease collecting" and to thereby officially become a "non-collecting entity."

The spin seemed to work for a while -- there wasn't the usual uproar from the Deaccession Police -- but now San Francisco Chronicle art critic Charles Desmarais calls them out:

"[I]t is a proposal that reeks of opportunism, trumpeted as a solution to financial woes by a board and director too inept or too lazy to carry out their central responsibilities, seemingly blind to the fact that if they can’t balance the books now, an infusion of art-sale proceeds will be burned through eventually and the organization will be back to where it is now. … Di Rosa might well argue that it is not subject to the standards required of museums. Both the American Alliance of Museums and the Association of Art Museum Directors have policies requiring so-called 'deaccession' sale proceeds be used only to improve the collection, but di Rosa is not an accredited institution. That’s a technical out, but not an ethical one. Both the di Rosa’s director, Robert Sain, and its collections consultant, Graham Beal, have worked in major U.S. museums. They know the standards and the justifications for them."

It's interesting to see Beal's involvement here.  It was not that long ago that he had "cemented his status as the field's most articulate spokesperson against desperation deaccessions" by insisting that "the institution is there to safeguard the art. The art is not there to support the institution."

In any case, expect a pile on by the usual suspects.

"The 4-to-3 vote, which came after a tense and emotional meeting, nullified the board’s earlier vote to paint over the murals"

NYT:  San Francisco School Board Votes to Hide, but Not Destroy, Disputed Murals.

Thursday, August 01, 2019

"In a democracy, destroying a work of art is never a solution to any offense it may give. Once art has been made and released into the often choppy flow of life, it should stay there. ... To dictate its elimination is an implicitly autocratic move ...."

Roberta Smith on the San Francisco murals.

So that makes three positions that have been staked out.

The open letter position:  a work of art should not be destroyed if its message is anti-racist, even if it is traumatizing to students.

The school board position:  a work of art that is traumatizing to students should be destroyed, even if its message is anti-racist.

The Roberta Smith position:  a work of art should never be destroyed.

And related:  Two more murals set for removal at local schools.