The Baltimore Museum of Art is deaccessioning three blue-chip paintings from its collection at Sotheby’s


As museums face increasing financial pressures and industry demands from staff to create fairer jobs, the second institution is taking advantage of the temporary relaxation of its deactivation by the Association of Art Museum Directors during the pandemic.

The Baltimore Museum of Art is ditching three paintings by Bryce Marden, Clifford Still, and Andy Warhol and expects to receive about $ 65 million from the auction and private sale at Sotheby’s over the next few weeks.

Unlike the Brooklyn Museum, which announced the sale of 12 paintings in September following significant layoffs, the Baltimore Museum has a balanced budget. Through some creative juggling of income streams, he intends to use his $ 65 million windfalls to help boost wages across the board, invest in diversity and inclusion programs, offer evening hours, and eliminate admission fees for special occasions.

The Baltimore Museum of Art is deaccessioning three blue-chip paintings from its collection at Sotheby’s
Christopher Bedford, director of the Baltimore Museum

Christopher Bedford, director of the Baltimore Museum, said this is an initiative based on vision, not desperation.

Should its priorities be funded by withdrawal – a long time hotspot in the museum arena where an association of directors previously sanctioned members who sold art to pay for general operating expenses – most likely.

Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, praising the move as a radical and creative idea that every museum in the country should take seriously, also warned that it is not a solution for every museum.

He said there is a slippery slope here because there are museums that have what it takes to tackle the inequality with the ranks of the museum staff right now without selling a single piece of art, and if they wanted to, they could solve the problem.

In 2018, Bedford led to the removal of seven blue-chip paintings from the museum in order to include new works by lesser-known artist-painters that better reflect the city’s black majority.

Now he is taking a parallel action to respond to the demands of his staff to address the extreme pay inequality between the bottom and the top of the hierarchy that is seen in museums across the country.

He did not face the staff uprising that took place in some institutions, including the Guggenheim Museum, but he received substantial feedback that the BMA needed to be improved.

The Baltimore Museum’s game plan is actually in line with how the museum association defined its new resolution, which is valid until April 2022, said Christine Anagnos, its director. The first $ 10 million from the sale of Sotheby’s will go to the museum’s charity fund for acquisitions with a focus on post-war-era color artists.

The remainder of the proceeds, approximately $ 55 million, will be used to create a new fund for the direct care of the collection. This fund is expected to generate approximately $ 2.5 million a year to cover the salaries of curators, registrars, conservatives, preparatory workers, art processors, administrative staff, and fellows, and other collecting costs.

The liberal interpretation is that Bedford has decided to reallocate the equivalent of $ 2.5 million freed up from its $ 20 million operating budget in revenue from the new fund to fund its equity and accessibility initiatives that are beyond the purview of collection.

Under this project, each full-time position, starting with entry-level security personnel, will be assessed individually through the lens of market rates and fairness, with a gradual increase in salaries of 3–48% over the next three years.

Anagnos said he is not surprised by what BMA is doing because it seems like a logical continuation of the concept of diversifying their collection. They use money that was once used for outright foreclosure to invest in a range of equity capital initiatives required for its mission.

The works selected by a museum for sale can also seem unconventional. Typically, a museum interested in opt-out looks for duplicates or smaller works that are not often exhibited by major artists.

Warhol’s Last Supper (1986), auctioned at Sotheby’s through a private sale, is an important piece from a large series, but it is one of 15 paintings by the artist in the collection, many of which are also late in his career.

Marden’s painting “3” (1987-1988), estimated by Sotheby’s from 10 to 15 million dollars, is the only painting by a living artist in the museum’s collection. Larry Gagosian said that there is an implicit rule that the museum does not make a living artist.

Bradford noted that this is more painful than giving up the work of a deceased artist, but this is not news.

Still’s painting 1957-G (1957) with a Sotheby’s estimate from $ 12 to $ 18 million, is the only work in the collection, performed by the artist in any format. The painting goes back to the pinnacle of the Abstract Expressionist movement, long considered a pioneer by Still, and was a gift from the artist in 1969 when he was living in Maryland.

Bedford described the application of a “different definition of redundancy” based on the deep possession of the museum throughout the Abstract Expressionist period. Franklin Seamans, director of the Perez Museum of Art in Miami, was more conservative in his approach to leaving his institution.

He thinks it’s weird to throw certain things back into the public market, noting that BMA’s work is unlikely to be bought by another museum.

While Seamans praised the Baltimore Museum of Art for leading a discussion on how to diversify the collection, he suggested that the museum’s trustees could help achieve this goal simply by buying new color works rather than discarding older works in the collection.

Bedford acknowledged that at other times of the year, at a different institution, considerable money could have been raised to secure fair wages from the board if the institution had been convicted. He has not convinced the Baltimore Museum of Art could have raised $ 55 million in a donation to support this initiative if AAMD had not relaxed its restrictions.


The Baltimore Museum of Art is deaccessioning three blue-chip paintings from its collection at Sotheby’s

The Baltimore Museum of Art has one of the world`s greatest collections of American art. There you will find works spanning from the colonial era to the late 20th century.  Paintings, sculptures, and arts and crafts can be seen in the BMA. The museum has several works of art from the Baltimore area. It has portraits of Charles Wilson Peele, Rembrandt Peele, and other members of the Peel family; silver from the renowned Baltimore silver company Samuel Kirk & Son; Baltimore Quilts; and painted furniture by John Finley and Hugh Finley of Baltimore.

The Baltimore museum’s collection of American painting ranges from 18th-century portraits and 19th-century landscape paintings to American Impressionism and Modernism with works by artists John Singleton Copley, Thomas Sully, Thomas Eakins, John Singer Sargent, Child Hassam, and Thomas Hart Benton including The Wild Scene (1831–1832) by Thomas Cole, La Vachère (1888) by Theodore Robinson, and The Pink Tulip (1926) by Georgia O’Keeffe. They are complemented by collections of prints and drawings as well as contemporary photographs from the Gallagher / Dahlsheimer collection. Artists represented include Imogen Cunningham, Man Ray, Paul Strand, and Alfred Stieglitz.

The Baltimore Museum of Art is deaccessioning three blue-chip paintings from its collection at Sotheby’s

BMA has a long history of collecting African American artists. It began in 1939 with one of the first exhibitions of African American art in the country.

The Baltimore Museum of Art’s American arts and crafts include an extensive furniture collection that features major historic joinery centers in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. Many of these items were obtained from Dorothy McIlwain Scott, a generous Baltimore philanthropist, and collector.

A gift made by Mrs. Miles White, Jr. in 1933 of over 200 Maryland silver coins became the nucleus of the silver collection, which now includes items from leading 18th and early 19th century artisans in Annapolis and Baltimore, as well as examples of early English silver held by Maryland families during the Federal era.

The Baltimore Museum of Art is deaccessioning three blue-chip paintings from its collection at Sotheby’s

Among them, there is the Annapolis Signature Tablet, made by the Annapolis silversmith John Inch, and the oldest surviving silver piece, made in Maryland. Later masterpieces by artists from Louis Comfort Tiffany to Georg Jensen can also be seen.

There is also a rare set of five lamppost windows and two mosaic architectural columns that represent Tiffany’s contributions to 20th-century decoration.

Historic rooms from six Maryland historic homes, along with architectural elements from other historic buildings, illustrate 18th and 19th century urban and suburban styles, while a dozen miniature rooms made by Chicago-based miniaturist Eugene Kupjak invite you to explore a variety of decorative styles with close range.

Museum features

The Baltimore Museum of Art is deaccessioning three blue-chip paintings from its collection at Sotheby’s

This great collection of American painting, sculpture, and decorative arts dates from the colonial era to the late 20th century.  Important regional holdings from Maryland and Baltimore, outstanding examples of decorative work by Louis Comfort Tiffany, and contemporary American masterpieces by Georgia O’Keeffe, Jacob Lawrence, Marsden Hartley, Joseph Stella, and many other famous artists can be found in BMA.

The spectacular presentation of the great American wing features more than 800 paintings, sculptures, and arts and crafts intertwined, revealing amazing connections and exciting stories.

Thematic exhibits explore the international nature of American art and Baltimore’s position as a major center for art production and foreign trade since the late 18th century.

Today the Baltimore Museum of Art houses more than 95,000 works of art, including the largest state holding works by Henri Matisse. The collection includes a selection of American and European paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts; works of contemporary artists; significant works of art from China; Antioch mosaics and art collection from Africa.

The BMA Galleries showcase examples from one of the national collections of prints, drawings, photographs, and textiles from around the world. The museum also features a 2.7-acre landscaped garden.

A highlight of the museum is the collection of cones collected by the Baltimore sisters Dr. Claribel (1864–1929) and Etta Cohn (1870–1949). Experienced collectors, the sisters have amassed many works by artists such as Matisse, Picasso, Cezanne, Manet, Degas, Giambattista Pittoni, Gauguin, Van Gogh, and Renoir, almost all of which were donated to the museum.

The Baltimore Museum of Art is also the permanent home of the George A. Lucas collection of 18,000 works of French art from the mid-19th century, which has been recognized by the museum as a cultural “treasure” and “one of the largest collections of French art in the world.” a country.”

The BMA is currently headed by Director Christopher Bedford, who was appointed in May 2016 after a year-long search. Prior to joining BMA, Bedford directed the Rose Museum at Brandeis University in Massachusetts for four years.

He has helped the Rose Museum of Art emerge from international controversy in 2009 when, during an economic downturn, the museum offered to sell off its top-notch art collection to help with its heavy finances.








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