It’s always a pleasure to compliment an arts institution for doing something right, especially when it comes to the ever-thorny issue of deaccessioning. But I can’t imagine how the Albright-Knox could have handed itself any better last week.
In case you missed it: The Albright will auction off $10-15 million worth of antiquities and pre-modern paintings and sculptures. Some of the pieces the A-K is selling are best-ever examples to come on the market, says Sotheby’s.
The reason for the sale couldn’t be much more simple: The A-K is a modern and contemporary art museum and the older stuff doesn’t fit its mission. The A-K isn’t going about it furtively: It’s doing it loudly and transparently. (SFMOMA made a similar decision a year or two ago: Its collection effectively starts when modern Ess Eff did, after the 1906 earthquake. So it traded a 19thC Monet for a Morandi. Awesome.)
After having spent years sniping at MoMA and LACMA — and more recently the Seattle Art Museum — for their furtiveness and for deaccessioning major works, it’s nice to see the A-K establish what should be considered an industry standard. The Seattle Art Museum, for one, could learn a lot from how openly the A-K is discussing what it’s doing and why.
Related: A-K press release.