Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) will sell one of its two oil paintings by artist Edward Hopper and use the money raised to increase acquisitions, particularly of contemporary art.
The museum announced the move in a press release yesterday, explaining that the sale of the Hopper, a painting titled “East Wind Over Weekhawken” (1934), “will go into the new acquisitions endowment, quintupling the funds generated annually for the purchase of art.” A good chunk of that money will be used to buy contemporary art, an area in which the museum’s collection is currently weak. The PAFA will also hire a dedicated contemporary art curator and add two new board members with contemporary expertise.
The painting in question is an oil from 1934 titled “East Wind Over Weehawken,” a cloudy scene of a street in New Jersey, where, now presciently, a “For Sale” sign stands in the foreground. The museum will sell the work through Christie’s in December, with an estimate of $22–28 million. Its press release notes that the it will keep “the more important” of its two Hoppers, a 1923 work titled “Apartment Houses.”
In the release, PAFA Museum Director Harry Philbrick explains:
“We are going back to our tradition of actively collecting contemporary art. Just as we purchased Apartment Houses when Hopper was still an emerging artist, we will use the proceeds from the endowment to build a broad base of the works of today’s emerging and mid-career artists, and tomorrow’s.”
Philbrick elaborated on this in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, saying that even though contemporary acquisitions are “a crapshoot,” he sees it as worth the risk. “If we don’t purchase anything, we’re not going to get it right at all,” he said.
Many people disagree. Reactions from critics have been generally negative:
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts will sell an Edward Hopper for “a crapshoot”? Sheesh. http://t.co/Zx6rq3hV6E
— Christopher Knight (@KnightLAT) August 28, 2013
— Lee Rosenbaum (@CultureGrrl) August 28, 2013
Deborah Solomon tweeted in the same vein, inspiring a fascinating Twitter conversation between her and writer Joyce Carol Oates. Oates argued that the painting should take its place among other Hoppers in a more “major” museum, which is a nice but likely impossible idea. The concern among critics of the sale is that the Hopper will end up in private hands, where no public will benefit from it. The PAFA caused a similar deaccession stir in 2007, when it sold Thomas Eakins’s “The Cello Player” to help pay for a half share in another Eakins; “The Cello Player” is now owned privately.
The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art announced just a few days ago that it had acquired a Hopper of its own, “Blackwell’s Island” (1928), which it bought for $19.1 million at Christie’s in May. So the $22–28 million estimate doesn’t seem far off. Is there a museum out there that has the money and the prerogative to buy “East Wind Over Weehawken”? Larger museums that have the funds but already own Hoppers might not be interested; smaller ones might want the piece but lack the money.
It’s exciting and admirable that the PAFA wants to support living artists, but one can’t help wishing they’d sell some other, less important work — which of course wouldn’t do, since the whole point is to raise a lot of money. Maybe Crystal Bridges needs another?
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
In 1850, when Dr. Robert W. Gibbes commissioned J. T. Zealy to make daguerreotypes of persons held in slavery in and around Columbia, South Carolina, for Harvard Professor Louis Agassiz to use in support of his theory that African people were a separate species, daguerreotypes were at the height of fashion.
Works by Rodolfo Abularach, Mario Bencomo, Denise Carvalho, Pérez Celis, Entes, and Agustín Fernandéz are on view at the NYC gallery through January 7, 2022.
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
“Ecosystem X,” an art-based reimagining of life on planet Earth, is the theme of this open call. 10 artists will win $5,000 and one student will receive $5,000 as a scholarship/stipend.
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.