A Good Trade?
As noted earlier,
the Indianapolis Museum of Art
is quite open about their deaccession process.
At least, they tell you what they've gotten rid of.
(whereas the press office of the Art Institute of Chicago just told me that
"We have not provided anyone with a list before.”)
But, also as noted before,
the "Reason" given for each deaccession
is hardly explanatory.
(often "secondary example" is given as the reason,
when indeed, there may be no "primary examples" of work by the same artist,
or even in the same genre, in their collection.
So --- it's with some skepticism
that we should contemplate the connection
they've presented between the five deaccesioned paintings
shown below, and the Horace Pippin shown above,
which they tell us was purchased with subsequent income.
Ralph Brownell McGrew
To begin with,
they have posted pictures of all five
deaccessioned pieces in an
obviously distorted view.
Just to make sure they look really, really bad ?
(Most of the other deaccessioned works on their site
are not presented this way.)
We might note that four of the five could be called
'Western Art" (as in cowboys and Indians)
and all of them were donated in 1976 by Harrison Eiteljorg,
who ten years later would open his own museum
of "American Indians and Western Art" in Indianapolis.
So.. it looks like Eiteljorg made a good decision
to stop giving his Western stuff to the I.M.A.
and open his own, instead.
(BTW - he also donated a lot of African tribal art
to the I.M.A., which so far, they've decided to keep)
These don't look like
great paintings to me.
(but who can tell anything
from these distorted views)
Perhaps I would rather see the single Pippin,
but maybe that's just because
I prefer that black man's sense of personal desparation
to the vapid, commercial mythology of my white brothers.
But they've also tried to dump their Walter Ufer,
which was also donated by Eiteljorg,
and which I might well prefer to the dark, depressing Pippin.
If it were my call,
I may have have made the same switch.
But I'm still waiting for a special exhibit
that would inspire me to drive down I-65,
and if they are trying to dump their Ufer and Paxton,
I've not very enthusiastic about seeing
what they have done
with their permanent collection again.