Tyler Green, scourge of museums and universities with the temerity to use their art as an asset, pats his equally self-effacing colleague on the back for scooping the New York Times on the National Academy’s sale of two paintings from its collection. Mr. Green is normally scathing and relentless in his criticism of mere mortals who deal with the management of arts institutions. But in this case, not a peep.
Here’s the Times on the National Academy sale:
The sale of the paintings, Frederic Edwin Church’s “Scene on the Magdalene” from 1854 and Sanford Robinson Gifford’s “Mount Mansfield, Vermont” from 1859, was sharply criticized by the Association of Art Museum Directors, which has a longstanding policy of strongly discouraging museums from deaccessioning artworks unless the money is being used to acquire other works and to enhance a collection — not to raise operating funds.
The association asked its members to cease lending artworks to the academy and collaborating with it on exhibitions.
“The National Academy is now breaching one of the most basic and important” principles of the museum world, the association said in a statement, “by treating its collection as a financial asset, rather than the cornerstone of research, exhibition and public programming, a record of human creativity held in trust for people now and in the future.”
But Carmine Branagan, the academy’s interim director, said the sale, which raised close to $15 million, was made after long and careful consideration by the institution’s membership, which includes famous American artists and architects like Jasper Johns, Wayne Thiebaud and Frank Gehry. Ms. Branagan said the academy’s members viewed the sale as the only way for the 183-year-old National Academy, whose finances have long been troubled, to survive and to exhibit more actively one of the country’s largest collections of American art.