Monday 19 November 2012

Decision to sell Henry Moore sculpture criticised

The decision by Tower Hamlet's mayor to sell a sculpture by Henry Moore has outraged many. The sculpture was sold to the borough by Moore himself in the 1960s for only £6,000 (much less that market value) on the condition that it was permanently displayed in an underprivileged area for the enjoyment of people in that area. However, the mayor ignored recommendations that the sculpture not be sold, stating that the money raised would ease the £100 million government cuts in their budget.

Moore's scultpure: Draped Seated Woman
The Guardian reports that this decision is latest in a growing list of public artworks being sold by councils, and experts fear that more councils may follow suit: "Last year, Bolton Council sold seven works of art, including two etchings by Picasso and a painting by John Everett Millais, and Gloucester city council approved plans to sell 14 works of art valued at £381,000. In the same year, Newcastle City Council put £270,000 of publicly-funded artwork for sale on eBay and Leicestershire County Council made more than £160,000 after selling off some of its art collection."

As well as the concerns for public art, the decision also raises the question as to the efficacy of sellers of artworks seeking to impose conditions on buyers. In this case, Moore's intention in selling the work at a low price was to allow the people of Tower Hamlets to benefit from the work. Decades later, however, the buyer does not appear to be at all concerned that it is restricted in any way from dealing in the work.

Source: The Guardian, 7 November 2012
Photo: Wendy North © 2010

No comments: