Tuesday 15 February 2011

Legislators take sides over "Sell the Pollock" Bill

A detail of the mural: should this work be sold
to fund 1,000 scholarships for arts students?
The Daily Iowan is waxing lyrical at the moment about an unusual piece of proposed legislation that would force a museum to sell a work that was donated to it. In "Legislators: Pollock bill not likely to pass" (here), Ariana Witt explains that some Iowa legislators are in agreement that a proposed law to force the University of Iowa’s Museum of Art to sell a multimillion-dollar Jackson Pollock painting is not likely to be enacted. Says the article:
“I don’t know that the public good is served by selling a painting that was donated to the university,” said Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville, who said he doesn’t think it will pass the House. ...  But Rep. Steven Lukan, R-New Vienna, said he thinks the bill will make it to the Senate, though he said he hasn’t formed an opinion on the issue of selling the $140 million piece.

Peggy Guggenheim donated Pollock’s Mural to the UI in 1951. The painting was moved from the Museum of Art because of the 2008 flood and is now housed at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport.

Rep. Scott Raecker, R-Urbandale, proposed Feb. 9 that the Museum of Art be forced to sell the painting in order to fund 1,000 scholarships for UI arts students. Sen. Jeff Danielson, D-Cedar Falls, said he believes it is a “horrible public-policy idea, likely to have a chilling effect on the university’s art relations.”

Though the bill is in the early stages with the House Appropriations Committee, nationally, those in the art world have openly opposed the possibility of it being passed.   ... 
The UI’s own policy on selling artwork says money made must go toward more art, said chief museum curator Kathleen Edwards. The collections policy also states all sales must comply with local, state, and U.S. federal laws as well as university regulations. Still, a violation of ethical guidelines, Blanton said, could lead to a loss of accreditation by the UI and dissuade potential art donors.

“Who wants to give a Van Gogh if next week it could be on the auction block?” he said.
Seeing as Jackson Pollock was expelled from art school himself, one might suspect that he would be less than enthusiastic to see his work liquidated for such educational purposes.

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