• BMOMA 3 In it's last weekend!
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Art or Idiocy? recently reported on the Art Institute of Chicago's plan to sell Marc Chagall's painting, The Juggler (1943). The more we thought on it, the more absurd it seemed. The Juggler is one of Chagall's better works, and certainly iconic. Unlike the boring and a-typicalBirth (1911/12) which remains in the collection along with a Jewish crucifixion* (weird, huh???), The Circus Rider (1927), which went well with the juggler, and Praying Jew (1923, copy of a 1914 work). Oh, and of course the Chagall Windows (actually America Windows, 1977). View them here.
*Does "White Crucifixion" (1938) mean Chagall was a "Jew for Jesus"?
The combined profits of the dreamy birdman Juggler and Pierre Auguste Renoir's Portrait of Jean Sisley (1875) were 4.6 million dollars. Chagall picked up a cool 4.05million, which means Renoir is responsible for .55 of the total. If we were really rounding things off, we could say the AIC got 5million to go towards acquisitions. Specifically the department of "Medieval to Modern European Painting and Modern European Sculpture." Which means more (Post)Impressionist acquisitions? Not for a paltry 4.6M. The Chicago Tribune's article on the auction results noted that a Toulouse-Lautrec was also on the chopping block. A piece lent to AIC for the recent Lautrec show and one in 1979. It went for 22.4M.
The article states that Chagall and Renoir were sold on rich-man's ebay after their value to the collection had been assessed by AIC. Now the Renoir seems kind of minor, which is reflected in its low earnings and low estimate (400-600K) but the Chagall has been on view pretty consistently for a while. Despite the claim that "neither had been on regular view in the galleries."
Well, what can you do? At least the money can't go to buy another god-awful mirror painting by Lichtenstein.