Top Art Stories: Focus on Museums

The museum edition

Museums seem to be quite active these days, with some of them raising funds for new acquisitions, others filing for bankruptcy, and some – reclaiming a painting stolen decades ago. The news not only affects museum visitors but, to some degree, has an impact on the art market and, therefore, on us – collectors.

Campaign to raise funds to acquire van Dyck’s self-portrait gets a boost

CSir Anthony van Dyck’s self-portrait has good chances of becoming part of the National Portrait Gallery’s collection after British billionaire James Stunt withdrew his offer and the seller, Alfred Bader in partnership with dealer Philip Mould, reduced the price from £12.5 million to £10 million. In November 2013, the National Portrait Gallery and the Art Fund started a campaign to raise funds in order to acquire the painting. With contributions of £3.6 million the campaign has until July 20th to meet the full purchase price and ensure that the painting will remain in the UK and soon go on public display. The masterpiece is the last self-portrait by van Dyck — one of the most important painters to have worked in England. In 2009, the portrait was offered at Sotheby’s with an estimate of £2 – 3 million and after fierce competition among 9 bidders was sold to Bader and Mould for £8.3 million establishing the new record for the artist. Source: The Guardian

A long gone Renoir returns to the Baltimore Museum

RA miniature, 5½ by 9 inches painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir stolen 63 years ago returns to the Baltimore Museum. On the Shore of the Seine is already on view in a special exhibition along with 20 other works from the collection of Saidie May, the donor who gave the Renoir to the museum in 1951. Same year the painting was stolen and resurfaced only two years ago when a woman claiming that she miraculously discovered the painting at a flea market in Virginia tried to consign it for sale at auction. The thief is not identified yet, but a Washington Post reporter conducted his own investigation and made some intriguing discoveries about painting’s whereabouts. Source: Washington Post

Moscow’s trendy Garage Center for Contemporary Culture transforms itself into a museum

GThe Garage Center for Contemporary Culture founded by the art collector and socialite Dasha Zhukova in 2008 in Moscow is now being transformed into The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. The change will take place on May 1, however, the museum will move to its permanent home, designed by the renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhas, only next year. The change will simplify art-loan processes among other advantages but, most importantly, the connotation of the word “museum” which carries considerably more weight than “center” should have a positive effect on the interest from Russian and global audiences. The transformation is also aimed at lending more credibility to Zhukova’s curatorial efforts. You may remember the socialite sparking a controversy a month or so ago when she was photographed sitting on Bjarne Melgaard’s famous chair.

Garage’s director Anton Belov announced the change on his FB page writing: “Dear friends, today we can finally and proudly call ourselves a Museum. And I congratulate myself on becoming a Director of the best Contemporary Art museum in Russia.”  Source: The New York Times

Detroit’s dilemma

DThe collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts, which includes works by Rembrandt, Bruegel, Picasso and van Gogh is in danger of deaccessioning as the city of Detroit, which partially owns the collection, filed for bankruptcy last year. Will the city defend up to the last Degas to keep its valuable collection intact and preserve the privilege to enjoy it for future generations? Or will it consider selling art to repay its debt, improve infrastructure or take any other incentive to benefit its citizens more effectively during the hard times? Source: New York Times

Read about Detroit’s Art Collection.

Another museum deaccessioning art to pay debt

SThe Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington is hoping to raise $30 million to repay its bond debt by selling up to four works from its collection. While museums sell works of art to buy other works, the decision to sacrifice art for debt repayment is contrary to museum’s deaccessioning policy and was strongly criticized by the American Alliance of Museums. The museum holds a renown collection of American and British Pre-Raphaelite paintings. The sale will take place over the next six months. Source: The Art Newspaper

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