Eli Broad has decided to retain permanent control of his works in an independent foundation that makes loans to museums rather than give any of the art away. The decision is a striking reversal by Mr. Broad, who as recently as a year ago said that he planned to give most of his holdings to one or several museums.
Long assumed to be at the top of the list of potential recipients was the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which next month is to open the $56 million Broad Contemporary Art Museum.
Coming on the eve of the opening, the decision is a potential embarrassment for the Los Angeles museum. It was widely criticized in 2001 for mounting a major exhibition of works from Mr. Broad’s collection without having secured a promised gift of the works, an act that is prohibited at many prominent art institutions because it can increase the market value of the collection.The decision also has far-reaching implications for the way museums interact with big donors.
Chatter on the Cybernet: A good discussion at Ed Winkleman, Govan attempts a positive spin, LA Curbed, MAN talks to BAF, and Time. Plus many more, and more to come.
My thoughts posted to Ed Winkleman's:
I have this sense that Broad took what he learned in real estate development, and has applied it to art. The value in a plot of land comes from what it is in proximity to: resources to make it viable (like water and roads) and for lack of a better term, being in view of the sublime. The WPA built great lodges on the rim of the Grand Canyon and in Yosemite to allow the general public access to the sublime, much like our public art museums do. Since these public lands have yet to be privatized, Broad buys a parking structure in a nondescript section of downtown Los Angeles, and donates funds to the building of Disney Hall. Now the parking structure has a view of the sublime and can be developed at a higher price point.
Likewise Broad can contribute funds to the BCAM at LACMA, and through institutional proximity, increase the value of his collection.
Like Walt Disney he's given buildings to CalArts. Walt saw CalArts as a factory to turn out workers to produce the art to be monetized. Broad has done the same at UCLA. It all seems quite shrewd, in a capitalist sort of way.
A similar thing has gone on when Blum & Poe (and other galleries) used MOCA as a way to increase Murakami's price point. The platinum-leaf covered Oval Buddha is now featured prominently in MOCA's newsletter, adding to the works significance and value.
With the death of art criticism (from the beginning of Ed's post) to the lack of curatorial independence for museums, we seem to no longer have any outside arbiter of taste.
The measure of the sublime is now located in the price.