Carol Vogel examines the changes at Los Angeles’ LACMA which has been remaking its collection through a series of sales–and purchases–of Old Master works. The museum’s staff now reveals that they’re remaking the collection to offer an authoritative guide to the “history of taste.”
The first part of the initiative — newly renovated galleries for Dutch, Flemish, Spanish and French paintings — will open to the public this month after having been closed for nearly a year. The galleries for Italian Baroque art — the largest space of its kind in any American institution, museum officials say — is scheduled to reopen next month, and will include antiquities alongside the paintings and sculptures. The idea, said J. Patrice Marandel, the museum’s chief curator of European painting and sculpture, is to evoke the way art was displayed in Roman palaces or English country houses.
Mr. Marandel added that he had been closely reviewing the museum’s holdings. “It may seem shocking that I am selling paintings, but I’m willing to accept the criticism,” he said. “This isn’t a study collection, it’s a place to see the best paintings we can show so that visitors will be able to experience paintings as objects of enjoyment and culture. These galleries will also be a place where visitors can learn about the history of taste. As a result we’ve set the bar high.”
Inside Art: In Los Angeles, An Urge to Purge (New York Times)