Barbara Buhler Lynes. Georgia O’Keeffe Museum’s curator, at Whitney’s press preview for O’Keeffe Abstraction show
Back in July, I reported that the Tennessee Court of Appeals had ruled that the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, lacked “standing to participate” in the court battle over whether Fisk University could sell to Alice Walton‘s Crystal Bridges Museum a half-share of its Stieglitz Collection. I then wrote that I had “not yet received a response to my question to O’Keeffe Museum about whether it intends to appeal.”
Now I have.
Last Friday, the O’Keeffe Museum quietly filed an application with the Tennessee Supreme Court to appeal the Court of Appeals ruling. (I’ve not seen any press accounts of this yet.) The Santa Fe museum is seeking to be allowed to continue pressing its legal arguments that if financial circumstances had made it impossible for the
university to comply with the conditions of O’Keeffe’s donation, the
artworks should be handed over to the museum. as successor-in-interest to O’Keeffe.
At the Whitney Museum’s press preview for its delicious Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstraction show, which opened yesterday, Barbara Buhler Lynes, curator of the O’Keeffe Museum, hotly contested the notion (most dramatically expressed by Jock Reynolds, director of the Yale University Art Gallery) that her museum was opportunistically trying to loot Fisk’s collection. She passionately defended her museum’s mission to champion intent of the artist/donor, who had stipulated that the collection at Fisk should be displayed intact and that nothing could be sold. Lynes helped organize the “Abstraction” show, which will travel next May to her museum.
I also spoke with Dale Kronkright, the O’Keeffe Museum’s conservator, who worked on and reframed some of the paintings now at the Whitney. Kronkright alleged that he had seen some works in storage from Fisk’s Stieglitz Collection (a past lender of works to the O’Keeffe Museum) that were “scraped, dented and torn.”
The Court of Appeals had ruled that any interest that Georgia O’Keeffe (or any supposed successor-in-interest, such as the O’Keeffe Museum) had in the Stieglitz works ended at her death.
I’ve been trying to get a copy of the O’Keeffe Museum’s latest court filing. If and when I succeed, I’ll let you know if there’s anything new and interesting to report.