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Art Lovers News Corner > Show and sell: the added value of a museum exhibition

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message 1: by Heather (new)

Heather | 8542 comments How soon is too soon? Private collectors are selling off works as little as a few weeks after lending them to high-profile shows

"As the art world gathers for the annual Art Basel fair, the talk is inevitably turning to the recent series of auctions in New York that racked up an astonishing $2.7bn and produced some stunning prices. Among these was the highest-ever third-party guarantee, at $150m, given by the Nahmad family of dealers for Modigliani’s sensuous 1917 painting Nu couché (sur le côté gauche).

Sotheby’s sold the work for $157.2m in New York on 14 May, but the sale was not without controversy. The languid nude had very recently appeared in Tate Modern’s blockbuster exhibition devoted to Amedeo Modigliani, which closed on 2 April. The work, lent by a “private collection”, was one of the highlights of the London show, which included another 11 nudes by Modigliani, now one of the highest-priced artists in the world. But some curators at the Tate were apparently shocked to see the swift appearance on the market of the work, which had been lent by the Irish racehorse mogul John Magnier.

The case is far from isolated. In the same week, Sotheby’s New York offered David Hockney’s Pacific Coast Highway and Santa Monica (1990) in its contemporary art sale. The work was recently shown in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Hockney retrospective, which ended on 25 February. Estimated at $20m to $30m, again with an irrevocable bid and a guarantee, the work fetched $28.5m with fees, setting a new auction record for the artist, even though it fell short of its target."


More.. https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/...

Do you think there should be a time extent given to which a work of art can be exhibited then sold?


message 2: by Judi (new)

Judi (jvaughn) | 59 comments It is certainly enterprising on the part of the seller. Free publicity to sell an asset for a higher price, than perhaps would have been expected. Ethical?


message 3: by Judi (new)

Judi (jvaughn) | 59 comments I just read the whole article and love the solution suggested at the end:

There is another way of looking at this issue, however. Since museums are unwittingly acting as showrooms for works subsequently sent for sale, perhaps they should benefit when those works make big prices—with, say, 1% of the price given to them.

Vendors may not have a legal obligation to do this, but they could have a moral obligation. Their works of art benefit from exposure in public shows, so perhaps the museums involved should benefit too. This would be good for museums’ budgets—and should not be too hard on the vendor.



message 4: by Heather (last edited Jun 13, 2018 12:22PM) (new)

Heather | 8542 comments Good point Judi! LG posted awhile ago about increasing the costs of visiting museums to supposedly help the museums meet their expenses. But I agree, since the museums are basically showcasing the new art, they should get a cut in the profits made by the artists selling the works.


message 5: by Heather (last edited Jun 13, 2018 12:23PM) (new)

Heather | 8542 comments And as far as ethical, I’m not sure. Of course the public would be interested in new art and the already proven master’s works so it would make sense that the museums show the work. But they are being a showcase for the artists, also.

So I don’t know whether a set amount of time could be suggested before the work could be sold. It does benefit the museum to have new shows and exhibits, but referring to my above comment replying to your comment, I still do think the museum should get a cut in the profit, then I don’t think the matter of whether it's ethical or not would be an issue.


message 6: by Lance (last edited Jun 14, 2018 10:47PM) (new)

Lance Charnes (lcharnes) | 83 comments The turnaround time is new, but the concept isn't. Museums have been granting vanity exhibitions to major collectors since at least 2006, when the Royal Academy let Charles Saatchi fund and curate an exhibition made up entirely of paintings he owned, which he subsequently sold (over time) usually at a great profit.

Museums putting on legit exhibitions are often forced to borrow paintings from major collectors, since the collectors have far more money to buy on the market than do most museums. The flip side of this is that the museums, being beggars, can't get too particular about what the collector does with the piece after it comes off the museum's wall.


message 7: by Heather (new)

Heather | 8542 comments Lance wrote: "The turnaround time is new, but the concept isn't. Museums have been granting vanity exhibitions to major collectors since at least 2006, when the Royal Academy let Charles Saatchi fund and curate ..."

Interesting. Good to know. Thank you, Lance!


message 8: by Geoffrey (new)

Geoffrey Aronson (geaaronson) | 930 comments Judi wrote: "I just read the whole article and love the solution suggested at the end:

There is another way of looking at this issue, however. Since museums are unwittingly acting as showrooms for works subseq..."


That is an excellent idea. Somewhat like a finder`s fee for other types of business enterprises. But I would venture more than 1%


message 9: by Geoffrey (new)

Geoffrey Aronson (geaaronson) | 930 comments The solution would be for the museums to write in the lease contract a percentage should the piece be sold within 2 years after the museum displayed it.


message 10: by Heather (new)

Heather | 8542 comments Geoffrey wrote: "The solution would be for the museums to write in the lease contract a percentage should the piece be sold within 2 years after the museum displayed it."

Perfect, Geoffrey!


message 11: by Lance (new)

Lance Charnes (lcharnes) | 83 comments Geoffrey wrote: "The solution would be for the museums to write in the lease contract a percentage should the piece be sold within 2 years after the museum displayed it."

Three problems:

1) It's a loan, not a lease. No money changes hands.

2) Nothing compels an owner to lend a picture to an exhibition except self-interest. No self-respecting collector is going to go to the risk and bother to lend a valuable piece to a museum and also accept restraints on what s/he can do with it after it comes back home. Frankly, the owner is doing the museum a favor, not the other way around.

3) Special exhibitions often travel. Any lent art may be on the road for a year or more. So not only is the owner without his/her art for a lengthy period of time, but under your scheme, s/he can't do anything with it once it comes back from the exhibition's last stop. Now you've kept it off the market for 3-4 years. The market can turn in that time; an artist or movement can fall out of favor. How do you reimburse the owner for the foregone income? Think s/he will ever lend an important artwork to a museum ever again?


message 12: by Judi (new)

Judi (jvaughn) | 59 comments Good points.


message 13: by Heather (new)

Heather | 8542 comments Lance wrote: "Geoffrey wrote: "The solution would be for the museums to write in the lease contract a percentage should the piece be sold within 2 years after the museum displayed it."

Three problems:

1) It's ..."


I was thinking the same thing as Judi. Great points you brought up. I wouldn't have thought of those, though I'm not as familiar with the whole museum acquisition, display, exhibition, artist sales, etc. process. You seem to know a lot more about this, Lance. Thank you for sharing!


message 14: by Heather (new)

Heather | 8542 comments Earlier in response to Judi's first comments, I did remark "Of course the public would be interested in new art and the already proven master’s works so it would make sense that the museums show the work.

That is somewhat akin to what you said the owner doing the museum a favor. I do think the museums definitely benefit from displaying new art to the public. That in itself would bring more profit for the museum. Also, when they advertise certain new exhibits, it entices the regulars to come time and time again to check them out.

Personally, I'm divided between Geoffrey's solution and Lance's points. I think all are valid. I wouldn't consider either completely correct or all wrong.


message 15: by Geoffrey (new)

Geoffrey Aronson (geaaronson) | 930 comments If a museum showing increasing the selling price and desirability of a piece, then it´s a two way street. The museum is also doing the owner the favor of enhancing its price. Artists are in the same position. When given a major show, their works' salability increases exponentially. So yes, Lance, the owner is doing the museum the favor but its benefits are mutual.


message 16: by Lance (new)

Lance Charnes (lcharnes) | 83 comments The fact remains that the museum needs the loan more than the collector needs to make the loan.

Also, after thinking more about this, I realized that the amount of appreciation -- the "exhibition bump" -- is essentially unquantifiable. Auction estimates are as much works of art as the objects they pertain to; there's no such thing as a Kelley Blue Book for a used Hockney or Van Gogh. Estimates depend on the auction house's desire to: set a low bar that will bring in a hammer price that's a large premium over the estimate; stroke a good existing client or lure a new one; manage the price history of an artist (especially important in contemporary art); set headlines; cover the guarantees offered to the seller; or, best an offer made by a competing auction house.

While "everybody knows" a showing at a respectable museum often increases the sale price of an artwork (the rule-of-thumb I've seen is around 10% -- hardly exponential), "everybody knows" is a non-starter in contract law. You can take a work to three different appraisers and get three different appraisals; you can take the same work to Sotheby's and Christie's and get two different auction estimates. Which one goes in the contract? Be prepared to fight it out in court no matter which one sticks. Can you prove the final selling price included an "exhibition bump" rather than just reflecting other market forces? How? If the exhibition appears at two or three museums during its run, which one gets the money? Do they all get the same percentage? If not, the others will certainly fight it in court.

If your solution is to give a museum a percentage of the total sales price, be prepared to say goodbye to private collectors lending their art to museums for any reason short of it being a prelude to an outright donation. Depending on the heat surrounding the piece, that could be some serious coin going to a player that can't in any way prove it had a part in the final outcome.

The only instance for which you may be able to make a defensible case is for straight-out vanity exhibits, in which the entire point of the show is to hype a private collection as a come-on to get the collector to donate works to the museum or to become a trustee. These are relatively straightforward to define and may or may not have any viable educational program. It can be argued that in this case, the museum is functioning in the same role as a for-profit gallery space and is entitled to a certain commission. However, there aren't very many of these kinds of shows, so the net effect would be minimal at best.


message 17: by Heather (last edited Jun 21, 2018 07:18AM) (new)

Heather | 8542 comments Lance said: "You can take a work to three different appraisers and get three different appraisals; you can take the same work to Sotheby's and Christie's and get two different auction estimates. Which one goes in the contract?

I'm perhaps naive and a bit ignorant of this topic altogether, just going by what has been posted thus far, I am just adding my two cents.

First, I want to understand, wouldn't this contract be signed before any work is displayed? And signed by all parties involved? Then in the contract could be the clause that the party who 'wins' the sale of the piece of art would be the only one bound to the 'rules' set forth in the contact, and as part of the contract, the other participants at that time agree and sign to 'bow out' of the sale altogether. As far as to whom the art goes for appraisal, which museums participated in the exhibition, and to which auction house which all go into the contract, I would think that the place and price of the sale would be the deciding factor in applying the set parameters of the contract. Even though it has been appraised by several people and displayed at different auctions, ultimately, whoever 'wins' the sale of the piece, IMO should be included in the contract. Why would there be a discrepancy? Why would there be a legal battle to begin with? Like I said, maybe this is an ignorant question, I'm only trying to understand.

It is obvious that Lance has some good points and even statistics to back them but I do favor the ideas Geoffrey has brought to the table.

Lance said: "While "everybody knows" a showing at a respectable museum often increases the sale price of an artwork (the rule-of-thumb I've seen is around 10% -- hardly exponential), "everybody knows" is a non-starter in contract law.

Why wouldn't a percentage be included in the contract law? I don't know much about the 'contracts' in the first place, but 10% is something of an increase. Why would that be a 'non-starter'? Why couldn't a set percentage be assigned in the contract before it is displayed anywhere by anyone? Why couldn't the ultimate person (or place) through whom the sale takes place be reimbursed even by that 10%? That could be part of any 'contract'.

Lance said: "If your solution is to give a museum a percentage of the total sales price, be prepared to say goodbye to private collectors lending their art to museums for any reason short of it being a prelude to an outright donation.

To this comment, I just ask why? Why would private collectors not lend their art to museums? How would this be seen as a 'donation'? I don't understand that concept. Why couldn't there be a contract in this case that the museum(s) can hold the piece for a set amount of time then return it to the lender. If the lender doesn't choose to sell his or her art, I don't think anything else needs to be considered in any other 'contract'. Or is this assuming that all collectors intend to sell the piece after it has been displayed? In this case, I would refer to my first comment on why wouldn't the museum get some sort of compensation for publicizing the art to the public thus gaining it more recognition and as we've seen, perhaps increasing its value.

Lance said: "Depending on the heat surrounding the piece, that could be some serious coin going to a player that can't in any way prove it had a part in the final outcome.

This is a good point, I would think that if only the artwork is exhibited in one museum the problem could be easily solved. Then Geoffrey's idea about a percentage could be applied to the contract as to how much the museum collects because of exhibiting the piece. But I can definitely see a problem if the piece is exhibited in several museums, how would they decide who would get the 'commission'? Perhaps the percentage could be divided equally among all displays? That could be in the contract that would have to be agreed upon by all parties. If one museum doesn't want to agree on a set percentage according to the number of displays, I don't think they should qualify as a place for the opportunity to exhibit the work at all. That's a good point.


message 18: by Geoffrey (last edited Jun 21, 2018 04:20PM) (new)

Geoffrey Aronson (geaaronson) | 930 comments Hmmmm. Interesting discussion. Wonder if museums have ever had such contracts with lenders. I would think a contractual basis would be more attractive to an artist´s work that has not garnered considerabe attention. I think Lance´s consideration arises out of world reknown pieces, but what about artists who have been discovered by smaller museums who have not received much attention? Such as the Knoxville, the DeCordova outside Boston and the like. If they show the work of a well known regional artist whose exhibition results in greatly enhanced exposure and value, why not a pre-existing contract with the lender?


message 19: by Geoffrey (new)

Geoffrey Aronson (geaaronson) | 930 comments Again, these are interesting questions. Currently I am in San Cristobal Chiapas and have been frequenting a first rate local commercial gallery, LEK. I have no idea what the acronym stands for but they are currently displaying the homoerotic, transgender work of a Mexican artist. Why here in San Cristobal I have no idea. This is work that would sell out in LA. It is highly accomplished work and super sophisticated. I have suggested to the artist he should send an email to Gogosian and others, and I have also suggested to one of the gallery owners that they sign a 2 year contract with the artist to rep him for getting a show in LA. I suspect my advice has fallen on deaf ears in both cases, but what do you do with artists who aren´t connecting with the proper markets for their work?


message 20: by Heather (new)

Heather | 8542 comments Wow, I think those were great suggestions! I ask, also, why wouldn’t they take any advise to connect to the right people to further introduce their work?

How large is that city Geoffrey? I haven’t heard of it but I’m not well versed in my geography. It sounds like a much smaller marketable area than L.A. which would also make more sense to bring the work to the USA.


message 21: by Lance (new)

Lance Charnes (lcharnes) | 83 comments Heather wrote: "First, I want to understand, wouldn't this contract be signed before any work is displayed? And signed by all parties involved?..."

If the idea is to put into contractual form the requirement for the museum to get a percentage of the increase in value attributed to the artwork's appearance in an exhibition, then you have to define the value of the piece at the time it goes on the museum's wall. That's where the appraisals come in. The owner will want an appraisal that perhaps overstates the piece's value to minimize the payout to the museum; the museum will want a lowball figure to maximize its potential returns. There will need to be (probably extensive) negotiations between the two parties to agree on an appraiser or an appraisal regime. There's also the question of whether the given valuation should reflect a probable gallery sale or an auction sale (they may not be the same), with the understanding that the major auction houses aren't going to feel bound by any appraisal they didn't do themselves.

Because the value of art is so subjective and dependent on all kinds of influences, none of this would be straightforward. Someone's likely to come out feeling screwed at the end.

Heather wrote: "Why wouldn't a percentage be included in the contract law? I don't know much about the 'contracts' in the first place, but 10% is something of an increase. Why would that be a 'non-starter'?..."

Because it's a rule of thumb rather than an actual number. It's also tied up in a lot of "ifs" that are hard to unwind. Example: a museum is mounting a retrospective of artist X. The market has rediscovered X and there have been a few newsworthy sales of his work recently, so there's buzz that might spike the attendance for the show. The museum approaches a collector to loan a particularly seminal work of X's for the exhibition. The collector does so, the piece goes in the exhibition, then travels to two other participating museums. At the end of the loan, the collector decides to sell the piece because the market for it is hot, and gets an outsized price for it at auction.

Did the artwork's appearance in the exhibition create a price bump for the subsequent sale? Was the price the result of an inflating market for X because he's hot again? Or was the record price because the piece is a seminal example of X's work of a kind that rarely comes to market? Good luck working that out.

Unless there's some scholarship or study behind any figure used for the "expected" exhibition bump, it's a guess. Anybody can make guesses.

Heather wrote: "Why would private collectors not lend their art to museums?... Why couldn't there be a contract in this case that the museum(s) can hold the piece for a set amount of time then return it to the lender...."

There usually is a loan agreement signed between the lender and the lendee, specifying the term of the loan, credit and publicity for the lender, the amount of insurance the museum will pay for during the term of the loan, and so on.

Some donors or potential donors will lend an artwork to a museum for some amount of time, then decide to donate it to the museum outright. They wouldn't necessarily care about sharing part of sale proceeds because the museum's getting the whole thing in the end anyway; the donor will get a generous valuation for the tax writeoff and the museum's undying love.

But more typically, the loaned artwork goes home again. The owner can do whatever s/he wants with it, including sell it. S/he may not have intended to sell it at the time of the loan, but things change; s/he may need to raise money, or decide to change his/her collecting focus, or just gets enticed by all those zeros being tacked onto artworks like his/hers while the loaned piece is on someone else's wall. But wait -- she foolishly signed a contract that said the museum will get a portion of the proceeds if she sells within a year/two years/whatever, even though (as mentioned earlier) nobody can satisfactorily prove the loan had anything to do with the eventual sale price. So maybe she waits, and the market tanks, and she can't get the price she could have; or maybe she goes ahead and sells, forks over the money to the museum, and feels rooked.

Think she's ever going to sign another of those contracts? Think anyone she knows will?

Heather wrote: "That could be in the contract that would have to be agreed upon by all parties."

Why would a collector agree to that in the first place? The museum or show promoter is essentially putting a lien on an artwork it had absolutely no hand in purchasing.

Heather wrote: "If one museum doesn't want to agree on a set percentage according to the number of displays, I don't think they should qualify as a place for the opportunity to exhibit the work at all."

Many museums without the wealth of the Getty or MMOA will partner with other museums to mount a special exhibition. The exhibit will then travel between the museums that helped put on the show. Yes, I'm sure they could work this out if they had to, but it's just one more thing to fight over.

--------

With all this said, the legal expenses museums would incur to develop and enforce this new requirement on collectors would, except in a very few extraordinary cases, probably eat up any profits they may receive from it. The kind of collectors who might be affected by this can afford very, very good lawyers.


message 22: by Lance (new)

Lance Charnes (lcharnes) | 83 comments Geoffrey wrote: "... what do you do with artists who aren´t connecting with the proper markets for their work?"

That's the job of their agent or the gallery that reps them. The artist may not have an agent, or have one who's worth his/her commission. A small regional gallery may not know how to do any of this or have the resources for it.

Perhaps if you know of a more savvy agent or gallery that reps this kind of work (other than the branded galleries like Gagosian, who apparently wait for artists to make a splash before they entice the artists away from their old representation), you can contact them.


message 23: by Lance (new)

Lance Charnes (lcharnes) | 83 comments Geoffrey wrote: "...what about artists who have been discovered by smaller museums who have not received much attention? Such as the Knoxville, the DeCordova outside Boston and the like...?"

I'm not sure the market mechanics work the same way for exhibits in lesser-known museums.


message 24: by Heather (new)

Heather | 8542 comments Just curious, Lance, you are very knowledgeable about this. Impressive! How is it that you know so much of the details of this certain topic which has evoked so many questions? Is this something you are involved with in your career?


message 25: by Geoffrey (new)

Geoffrey Aronson (geaaronson) | 930 comments I am also curious, Lance. You sound extremely knowledgeable about this subject and I don´t doubt for a minute that you have been intimately involved in these situations. I have not. I get into the occasional biennial, blah blah blah but my colleagues and I have always been interested in the mechanics of the financial side of the industry. Arrrrrgggggh. Hate calling it an industry as it is also a calling.

Could you give us some background, as Heather has stated. Not for verification but because we are interested in your person.

So the Gagosian now goes for the gold sealed. Long since the day when they discovered Basquiat or had he been a risen star when they took him on?


message 26: by Lance (new)

Lance Charnes (lcharnes) | 83 comments Because of the series I'm writing, I've been reading a lot about the field. I haven't actually worked in this end of the art business. I keep an eye on the Art Newspaper and artnet News. I've also been reading books about the contemporary market, such as Don Thompson's ongoing series (starting with The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art ), Georgina Adam's Big Bucks: The Explosion of the Art Market in the 21st Century (I haven't gotten to The Dark Side of the Boom yet), Christopher Mason's The Art of the Steal , and Sarah Thornton's Seven Days in the Art World . Gary Vikan's Sacred and Stolen: Confessions of a Museum Director talked a lot about the process of mounting special exhibitions and getting loans from collectors or other muesums/galleries.

Because my series lead worked in a crooked gallery and is employed because of what he learned there, I've gone through a good number of art crime-related books. These often discuss various aspects of collecting, selling, establishing provenance, and the negotiations and machinations that go on between artists, collectors, museums, and auction houses.

I hardly consider myself an expert -- maybe more an educated amateur who's spent more time looking at the back end of the market (the economics and business) than the front end (the art itself).


message 27: by Lance (new)

Lance Charnes (lcharnes) | 83 comments Geoffrey wrote: "So the Gagosian now goes for the gold sealed. Long since the day when they discovered Basquiat or had he been a risen star when they took him on?"

From what I understand, Basquiat had already become known by the time Warhol "discovered" him and started helping promote his work. Gagosian picked up Basquiat for one of the gallery's earliest shows when there was already considerable heat around the artist, which then rubbed off on the gallery.


message 28: by Lance (new)

Lance Charnes (lcharnes) | 83 comments There was an interesting two-part op-ed in artnet at the end of May that in some ways parallels the discussion here. Big galleries poach talent (and estates) from mid-level galleries that have invested in developing those artists. This practice, once frowned on, may be leading to the collapse of the middle of that market. Should the big galleries pay a fee to the losing galleries, or to an industry fund, to compensate the losing galleries for the time, sweat and money they put into establishing the artists, only to lose them as they start to take off? The writer proposes using a model from professional sports to address the issue.

Is there a non-art model out there for what Geoffrey's proposing? I don't know of one, but one may exist somewhere. The biggest problem is that there are a lot of people who have a lot of money invested in this game, who will have very strong opinions about it, and have ways of making those opinions stick... and museums have the weakest hand among them.


message 29: by Ellen (new)

Ellen | 116 comments I think we need to start with the fact that exhibitions that involved private collections at any level are a quid-pro-quo situation. The museum gets works it wants for an exhibition that will bring in grant money, visitors and new members; the owner of the work gets to list that exhibition in the provenance/exhibitions file. Such exhibitions potentially enhance the market value of the piece and benefit the owner and/or heirs further down the line.

Some museums step way over the line and exhibit whole collections while the collector picks up part or all of the tab for the exhibition. This practice is unethical and museums indulge. Moreover, if they are grooming the collector and angling to acquire by gift some of those items, it is in their interest to flatter the collector and enhance the value of objects they will one day get.

Collectors have kept an eye on appreciation and the potential markets for their objects since forever. By the 17th century an active marketplace was well established. Really by the 16th century. Artists like Rembrandt and Vermeer had secondary careers as dealers. The market went transAtlantic in the 18th century and boomed in the 19th. None of this is new.
Should museums benefit from this? They already do. Trying to get a piece of the resale action is simply double-dipping.
The agency with a legitimate interest in the resale market is the artist and their estate. There have been a number of efforts by artists to be able to maintain control of their output, even after it has been sold, and to benefit from the secondary and tertiary markets.

This control also extends to reproductive imagery. Every try to use a source like ARTStor.org to find a Picasso? None there. That's because the Picasso estate--cabal really--won't allow reproduction and free dissemination of reproductions. There are other artists whose estates were almost as problematic but many of those have loosened restraints.


message 30: by Heather (new)

Heather | 8542 comments Ellen wrote: "I think we need to start with the fact that exhibitions that involved private collections at any level are a quid-pro-quo situation. The museum gets works it wants for an exhibition that will bring..."

Wow, Ellen! Welcome! And great information! Thank you for joining us and adding immensely to the discussion. I am becoming much more well informed, though I will never be anywhere near this subject in real life, it is always interesting to know.


message 31: by Ellen (new)

Ellen | 116 comments Why thanks Heather! I think anyone, especially writers like Lance, would do well to look at resources published by the American Alliance of Museums. https://www.aam-us.org/ They are the supreme professional organization for museum folk (directors, curators, registrars, educators, security, marketing, the works) and publish a monthly magazine as well as all kinds of books. Several of the online organizations mentioned are very good, but there discussions of the ethics and other problems do not tend to be deep or detailed.

The values of works are as much a market-driven thing as they are an aesthetic and historical judgment. Just look at the "Leonardo," the "Salvator Mundi" that earned $450 million at auction recently. The painting, if it is the original Leonardo (and I am not wholly convinced it is), has so little of Leonardo's hand left on the panel that it's very problematic.

Then, of course, we resurrect lost, forgotten, and never originally appreciated artists. Vermeer's paintings were worth so little at his death that his widow was in steep financial trouble. Vermeer's signature was overpainted and many of his works reattributed to more "valuable" artists until scholars began revision work in the later 19th century. Folk and outsider/visionary artists present additional challenges. Tribal and other cultural objects are often assigned no value at all unless they happen to become fashionable.

Ah yes, fashion. Let's remember also that fashion and the way it creates the gleam of desirablility, is yet another variable.


message 32: by Heather (new)

Heather | 8542 comments Ellen wrote: "Ah yes, fashion. Let's remember also that fashion and the way it creates the gleam of desirablility, is yet another variable."

So true!


message 33: by Lance (new)

Lance Charnes (lcharnes) | 83 comments Ellen wrote: "Some museums step way over the line and exhibit whole collections while the collector picks up part or all of the tab for the exhibition. This practice is unethical and museums indulge."

Agreed. I'd be all in favor of anything that would stomp out this charade.

Ellen wrote: "I think anyone, especially writers like Lance, would do well to look at resources published by the American Alliance of Museums."

I'm familiar with AAM from my time studying exhibit design. (I went another direction, but I read their publications and attended one of their annual conferences.)

I'm sure we'll agree that museum ethics as codified by AAM don't always sync up with those practiced in the real world . For my series, I'm interested in the messy (and possibly dramatic) realities that get aired in the specialist press. It's the same for my primary job: I look at the professional association I belong to if I want the corporate line, but if I want what's really going on in the field, I read the news and the specialist press.


message 34: by Ellen (new)

Ellen | 116 comments Lance wrote: "Ellen wrote: "Some museums step way over the line and exhibit whole collections while the collector picks up part or all of the tab for the exhibition. This practice is unethical and museums indulg..."

We surely will agree on that. At the same time, as someone who spent quite a few years in the museum biz, I know that the ethics of display are complicated as all get out. And I think much of the most compelling drama emerges BECAUSE of the standards imposed and enforced (as much as possible) by the AAM and conflicts that arise from real life and often Solomonic decisions. I do respectfully disagree that the AAM simply offers a "corporate line." I think they offer an ideal that also needs constant reconsideration given what we learn and what we encounter in the real world.


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