It seemed like the worst of the deaccessioning debates had passed when this bizarre example from the Clyfford Still museum came up recently in The Art Newspaper. Still was a notoriously prickly artist which is one reason his estate contains the bulk of his artistic output. In keeping with his strict views, the new museum to be built in Denver will have no distracting cafe or auditorium. But in an apt irony, the project has had to sell 4 works before the museum officially acquires them to pay for the cost of building home for the collection and establishing an endowment.
In other words, without a transaction that turns some of the art into capital, the artist’s wishes would be impossible to carry out. It should also be added that without the backing of substantial collectors of Still’s work, there’s no one to provide the money that must now come from the sale of the estate’s four works.
The Art Newspaper offers this striking catalogue:
The Patricia Still Estate donated 400 works to Denver in 2005 following a gift the year before of 2,000 works from the Clyfford Still Estate: roughly 96% of the abstract expressionist’s work. The gifts came with the condition that Denver build a museum by 2014 to house them.
Denver Can Sell Works from the Still Estate (The Art Newspaper)