Tyler Green
Art-focused Journalism by Tyler Green

Tyler Green Modern Art Notes

The Rose Art Museum visits New York? Does that mean…

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Earlier this month, Brandeis University sent out an email inviting alumni to see a special installation of New York-themed art from the collection of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis House, the university’s Upper East Side alumni den. The email promised that the hang would include 20 works about life in New York, including paintings by George Bellows, Fletcher Martin, Max Weber and Richard Estes. The installation, selected by Rose curator Roy Dawes, opens Nov. 3. [Image: Max Weber, Seated Woman, 1917. Collection of the Rose Art Museum.]

Given that Brandeis has hired Sotheby’s to rent out the Rose Art Museum’s collection (reading Sotheby’s exec Lisa Dennison try to wriggle out-from-under leasing-agent slitheriness at that link is pretty entertaining), I asked Dawes if Sotheby’s was involved in the upcoming New York installation. My fear was that it was a ‘preview’ for a potential Brandeis rental of the Rose’s art. Dawes told me via email: “This is strictly an event for Brandeis [alums] and the Rose. I curated an exhibit specifically about NYC from the collection. Sotheby’s is in no way involved.”

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  1. The administration at Brandeis is desperate to show that the Rose Art Museum collection can earn the University extra cash. They are also trying to justify the enormous money and time they have foolishly spent on PR and lawyers to allow them to sell the collection. Financial times are tough at Brandies but the board and administration think the bad publicity, a non functional museum, a loss in donations by angry alumnae and the legal expenses are worth the ability to break the trust of people who generously donated art to the Rose. This behavior is even more illogical when you consider that the board is probably composed of business people who in their personal business, know when to cut their losses. Why this logic can’t be applied to the financial affairs at Brandeis is a marvel of bad decision making.

    There is one glimmer on the horizon. A recent comment by a Boston judge ruling on the eventual sale of the collection has stated that all rental monies from the collection will have to go to the museum. Should this be the case, there would be a wonderful backfire to the plan by the Univeristy to monetize the collection for the benefit of the other areas of the university rather than the Rose.

    The Brandeis Board of Directors and administration may not be able to use the Rose as their personal ATM machine after all. In the end, Art Trumps Money.

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