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The Art Institute of Chicago joins the New York Public Library, The Met, MoMA and the LA County Museum of Art in a rabid flurry of fall auction deaccessioning.
From the front page of today’s New York Times, Carol Vogel discusses the pros and cons of deaccessioning:
- Edward H. Able, president and chief executive of the American Association of Museums in Washington, said he supported deaccessioning as long as the proceeds were used to buy other works of art, not pay for operating costs. "It's encouraged and endorsed," he said in a telephone interview, adding, "We would like these items to go to other museums, but that's not always possible."
Mr. Able said he had noticed that sales of museum works seem to come in cycles. First, he said, a strong market works in the institutions' favor. "There's a pent-up need for this," he said. He also noted a boom in museum expansions and renovations across the country. "Many museums are either in the middle of building projects or have just completed them," he said, "and are therefore assessing their collections."
Auction house executives, meanwhile, point out that museums' stock market investments have not brought the kind of returns needed for acquisitions of first-rate works of art, whose prices have soared in recent years. Investment-savvy trustees at such museums are encouraging directors and curators to sell at what is perceived as a peak for the art market.
James Cuno, director of the Chicago Art Institute, said its decision to sell a Chagall and a Renoir at Sotheby's next week came during a review of its holdings in anticipation of a catalog of its permanent collection. "These sales are undertaken with careful scrutiny," he said.
The Art Institute owns a lot of Chagall’s work. This includes the famed “Chagall Windows” (actually America Windows) that Ferris and Sloane kissed in front of in Ferris Buller’s Day Off. Chagall is a crowd pleaser along the lines of Monet, but without as much historical clout. As Robert Rosenblum points to in the article, time will tell if decisions such as this are right. He feels “no.”
Here is a link to the article that will last a few mores hours.