Carol Vogel pokes stick into the hornet’s nest of the separation of church and state in the art world in her Inside Art column this week. Reporting on the Norton Museum in Palm Beach’s plan to create an instant biennial from the season’s art fairs:
two curators from the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Fla., have set themselves a Herculean challenge: in just five days they plan to tour Art Basel Miami Beach, some 20 other fairs and roughly 850 galleries in the area. They will then select a group of works to make up a museum exhibition intended as a kind of CliffsNotes synopsis of what’s happening in art now.
Since the all the works will be drawn from galleries and not collections, that raises the uncomfortable issue of promoting the art:
But since fairs are blatant commercial events with the primary purpose of selling as much art as possible, and museums are nonprofit institutions, “Now WHAT” raises many ethical questions. When asked if the public would be able to come to buy works off the museum walls, Mr. Stainback said, “No, nothing will be for sale in the museum.” […] Still, the perception that the museum is staging a show of works that are largely for sale will no doubt cause some raised eyebrows. But Mr. Stainback said, “When you read labels at the Whitney Biennial and see courtesy of such-and-such gallery, informed collectors or museum professionals assume they are for sale. [….]”
Inside Art: Exhibition Assembled on the Fly (New York Times)