Thursday, March 29, 2012

Akron Art Museum: Heading for a jackpot?

In an ideal world, a museum wouldn't think of parting with one of its highly prized works. But Mitchell Kahan, the director of the Akron Art Museum, must live in the real world in which collections must be nourished by acquisitions. So it explains why Kahan, with a keen eye to the museum's future, is an advocate of carpe diem in sending a multi-milion dollar photograph to Christie's for auction on May 8.

The piece is the creation of contemporary photographer Cindy Sherman, who had set the photo auction world ablaze last year with another work that soared to $3.89 million at Christie's - a record for photographs. It is labeled "untitled #96" (see above) and drawn from Sherman's "Centerfold Series". All of the self-photographed images are of Sherman, who appears in various disguises. The AAM acquired "untitled #96" in 1981, when Sherman created it. Talk about foresight!

When I spoke to Kahan, he conceded that it isn't easy to give up a work by a photographer so highly valued in the art world. But he says the sale - estimated to fetch $2.8 million to $3.8 million - will sweeten the museum's $2 million available for acquisitions. Thus, he says, there will be greater opportunity to acquire distinguished pieces for AAM for future generations.

Oh, I should mention that Kahan won't be total bereft of Sherman's work. He has another one in the vault. That lessens any regret of shipping one of the two off to a New York
City auction house.

2 comments:

Mencken said...

I'm no Philistine when it comes to art and photography, and I do think I appreciate Sherman's work, but Kahan should have sold both of them. The fact that the AAM has TWO of them should tell you something right off the bat.

I'm just being churlish here, but for somewhat less than what Untitled # 96 is bringing, you could buy W. Eugene Smith's entire portfolio as well as all of Henri Cartier- Bresson's works and own something truly magnificent and not so obscurely "important".

Bravo to the AAM for making such a brilliant investment, but let's not ever confuse price tags with relevance or value.

scott davidson said...

Nice way to decorate your walls. I have never done that. My effort to beautify the walls in my house was to order big-sized canvas prints from wahooart.com, from images of western art. I use the same angel motifs in all of the rooms painted by different painters, such as this one by very interesting English artist Stanley Spencer, http://EN.WahooArt.com/A55A04/w.nsf/OPRA/BRUE-8LT7K6.