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No So Fast: Private Art Museum Under Scrutiny

“I’m not against it being done, but it’s got to be done well,” [Rob] Storr [dean of the Yale School of Art], said. “If there’s to be a public forgiveness for taxes there should be a clear public benefit, and it should not be entirely at the discretion of the person running the museum or foundation.” That statement sums up my thoughts about the phenomenon described in Sunday's New York Times, in the business section. Writing Off the Warhol Next Door: Art Collectors Gain Tax Benefits From Private Museums, by my friend Patricia Cohen, describes … [Read more...]

Detroit: Time To Put Artists On The Spot?

Supporters of the Detroit Institute of Arts have been celebrating for almost a week now--it was last Friday that the court ruled in favor of the Grand Bargain, which buys freedom for the DIA. But with a catch: the museum still has to raise more than $10 million to reach its $100 million mandated contribution to the deal. And then it must raise about $300 million over the next eight or so years for its endowment, to replace the money it is receiving from the millage tax--which ends after 10 years from its inception. Plus, it always has to … [Read more...]

Five Questions For Leonard Lauder As The Met Reveals His Cubist Collection

So this week the art world and the Metropolitan Museum of Art's* members are getting a first look at the Leonard Lauder Cubist collection--assembled over the past 40 years. The masterpieces and seminal works he has purchased amount to the best private Cubist collection in existence, by design:  He always has a museum gift in mind as he collects. When I spoke with him in 2012, he said: "Many people collect to possess. I collect to preserve, and no sooner do I have a collection put together than I am looking for a home for it in a public … [Read more...]

Tate’s Coming Show: Is There A U.S. Counterpart?

Next week, Tate Britain will open what could be an excellent exhibition built around the career and influence of Kenneth Clark (pictured). It makes me wonder if anyone here in the U.S. could qualify for such treatment. The exhibition, titled Kenneth Clark - Looking for Civilisation,  ...explores the impact of art historian, public servant and broadcaster Kenneth Clark (1903–1983), widely seen as one of the most influential figures in British art of the twentieth century. The exhibition examines Clark’s role as a patron and collector, art … [Read more...]

Collector Jonathan Demme Joins The Sellers

In the late 1990s, I was pleased to meet director Jonathan Demme, maker of Silence of the Lambs, Married to the Mob and Philadelphia, among other movies, and to listen to him talk about his collecting of Haitian art. He preparing for an exhibition of more than 100 works drawn from his collection at the gallery at Equitable Center. I wrote about him and the exhibition for The New York Times in an article headlined A Convert Spreads the Word for Haitian Art. Demme quickly became known as the owner of one of the most, if not the most, … [Read more...]

Denver Makes Three: Are More Coming?

Today the Denver Art Museum announced the bequest of 22 Impressionist paintings from Frederick C. Hamilton, its long-time chairman of the board (though he stepped down from the position last year).  The press release (which is not yet up on its website) said it would elevate the museum's Impressionist collection to one of the best in the West: The gift includes a painting by Vincent van Gogh, Edge of a Wheat Field with Poppies, the first Van Gogh artwork to enter the museum’s collection; four works by the impressionist master Claude Monet … [Read more...]

Herb And Dorothy, The Sequel

Remember Herb and Dorothy Vogel? Of course you do. They are the New York couple, the postal clerk and the school librarian, who collected art using only his salary for years -- and eventually gave most of it away to the National Gallery in Washington and then to 50 museums, one each in every state. They were the subject of a documentary in 2009 called "Herb and Dorothy." I wrote about it then for The Art Newspaper, and to this day it is usually one of the most-viewed articles on my personal website. On Friday, a second documentary by Megumi … [Read more...]

Cupid Strikes, And Worcester Gets A Great Gift

Hester Diamond, well-known as a collector of Old Masters, has made a nice gift to the Worcester Museum of Art -- it's a tale that shows both her and Matthias Waschek, the museum’s director, to be pretty crafty. First the gift: it's a painting by Veronese titled Venus Disarming Cupid, circa 1560, and according to the Worcester museum is "one of the few works by the famed Renaissance master still in private hands." It shows a smiling Venus playfully taking away the bow of her son Cupid, stopping him in his tracks. The work is currently valued … [Read more...]

Getting More Expansive, Dallas Collectors Spread Out

Funny thing about collecting: Most of the time, collections simply grow, rarely shrinking, and they need more space. Case in point: Dallas collectors Cindy and Howard Rachofsky. They and another couple, Amy and Vernon Faulconer, are opening a building to show their collections called The Warehouse. It's 18,000 sq. ft. and is a joint venture with another couple, Amy and Vernon Faulconer. The first show is titled Parallel Views: Italian and Japanese Art from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. The Warehouse will also sometimes borrow works from other private … [Read more...]

In Art, A Male-Female Difference

As long as I can remember, I've been troubled by what I have here called "the male gap," the fact that art seems to be much more appreciated by women than men. At least it's women who go to museums more frequently. I don't think that's because of museum hours anymore -- though it used to be. Most women now work, and museums have more night hours. But women still outnumber men at art museums -- museum directors tell me that, and even government statistics, weak as they are on arts numbers, bear that out. I think it's partly because viewing … [Read more...]

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