• 2 May 2018

For the past few years, several museums around the world have been reflecting on systems that would enable them to diversify their collections. The Baltimore Museum of Art took a radical decision. It will sell some unique works of Art from its collection o buy Artists who have been under-represented.

Baltimore Museum of Art

Baltimore Museum of Art © Iracaz

Unique pieces to be sold

The Baltimore Museum of Art decided to let some unique pieces of its collection go. Indeed, the Museum will sell seven Artworks including some from iconic Pop Art Artists such as Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenderg. The Artworks are essentially pieces from the 20th century period made by major Artists.  The total income could exceed 12 million dollars. The idea is to put togeter a “war chest” that will open the acquisition of major Contemporary Artworks, particularly those from women Artists and people of color. The Director of the museum Christopher Bedford said to Artnet that such a strategy would be “absolutely transformative” for an institution which collections lack of diversity. Moreover, for the Director “the most important artists working today (…) are black Americans.”

Marylin Monroe by Andy Warhol

Marylin Monroe © Andy Warhol

Put together a collection with less white male Artists

What was initiated by the Baltimore Museum of Art is part of a strong will to propose a different perspective on Art History. Christopher Bedford told Artnet News “The decision to do this rests very strongly on my commitment to rewrite the postwar canon.” Contrary to the traditional museums’ strategies which consist in selling an Artwork to buy trendy Artists, the Baltimore Museum of Art will use the money to invest in emerging contemporary Artists. Among the potential Artists, the Museum’s Director evoked Amy Sherald, represented by Hauser & Wirth Gallery and Mark Bradford who represented the United States of America at the Venice Biennial. The idea is also to bet on Artists before they become out of reach.

Mark Bradford in his studio

Mark Bradford in his studio, 2017 © Prague591

A decision that divides

The Baltimore Museum of Art announcement raised several criticisms. Indeed, some players of the Fine Arts market do no appreciate the selling of collections to invest in new trends. It can be seen as selling part of the Museum’s history. However, such a process is well thought through and is part of a long-term strategy. Indeed, the mentioned strategy was put together a year ago. The idea is to show a new vision for the sold pieces. Indeed, Andy Warhol’s Artworks for instance, were bought in 1994. Amy Elias who is one of the Museum’s board members, said “it’s 2018. It’s 2018. Visions change. Just because you looked at things one way years ago doesn’t mean you look at them the same way now.”

Read our article about the influence of the Internet on Art here.

Sources : Artnet and The Baltimore Museum of Art