The Detroit Free Press looks at DIA’s new initiative to acquire more significant African American art and launch an aggressive new exhibition program. The museum recently hosted the Rubell Family’s 30 Americans show which impressed Salvator Salort-Pons, the museum’s new director who watched that show exceed its attendance figures by 16%. Of those attendees, African Americans made up 41% of the viewers which is nearly double Detroits demographic makeup of 22% African American and quadruple the museum’s normal attendance figures of 10% African American visitors.
The museum already has a 600-piece collection of African American art, an endowed curator and permanent collection galleries devoted to African American art.
There’s also substantial financial support from General Motors and the Ford Foundation. Here’s how the Detroit Free Press describes
Standing in front of him was David Hammons’ “Bird” (1990), a remarkable sculpture by a seminal contemporary African-American artist. Comprised of found objects, the piece uses a 6-foot tall white Victorian bird cage stand as its spine — except where the actual cage would hang, Hammons has substituted a basketball encased in chicken wire, with a few wispy feathers attached to the ball. With a likely price tag of at least a million dollars, it would be one of the most expensive pieces of contemporary art the DIA has bought in two decades.
With the Hammons purchase approved by the DIA board on Wednesday, the museum formally launched a landmark, three-year, multimillion-dollar initiative to deepen its commitment to African-American art. The plan includes acquisitions, exhibitions, artist commissions, community partnerships, staff development and internships. Driving the initiative is first-year director Salort-Pons’ ambition to broaden the appeal of the DIA, making it more relevant to metro Detroit’s culturally diverse audiences and starting with the city’s overwhelmingly black majority.
DIA launches multimillion-dollar effort to acquire African-American art (Detroit Free Press)