Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Gibbes' Angela Mack responds to the potential Detroit art sale

"Once it's gone, it's gone"

Posted by Elizabeth Pandolfi on Thu, Aug 8, 2013 at 11:28 AM

The art and museum worlds have been intently following Detroit's possible sale of its art collection — one that includes a self-portrait by Van Gogh and works by Diego Rivera and Henri Matisse — to raise funds for the bankrupt city. Though nothing's been finalized, it's being reported that Christie's will conduct an appraisal of the collection. 
click to enlarge Angela Mack - KAILTLYN ISERMAN
  • Kailtlyn Iserman
  • Angela Mack

While universities and private institutions have resorted to selling off their art for years, the Detroit situation is unusual, partly because it's unusual for a city to own an art collection — especially one worth $1 billion. We talked to the Gibbes Museum's executive director, Angela Mack, to get a local response to what's happening in Michigan. "That in itself is a testament to Detroit's history — the fact that the city has amassed works of art for the people of Detroit," she says. "In the long run, [selling] would be a huge detriment not just to the city of Detroit, but to society as a whole about the role of art in this country." 

Indeed, it's difficult to imagine a European city considering selling off works of art. "It's very unnerving," Mack says. "It speaks a lot about who we are as a country ... I don't buy the idea that art is a luxury. To me, it is fundamental to people's existence. It's going to be very difficult to watch if [the sale] comes out. Once that art is gone, it's gone."

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