Saturday, March 25, 2006

University’s Decision to Sell Georgia O’Keeffe & Marsden Hartley Paintings Challenged

by Daniel Grant

A decision by Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee, to sell two paintings in its art collection, which had been donated in 1949 by Georgia O’Keeffe from the Alfred Stieglitz collection, has been challenged by the Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The dispute focuses on O’Keeffe’s conditions pertaining to the 1949 gift to Fisk, which included provisions that the collection be exhibited intact and that no items could be loaned or sold at any time.

In December 2005, the university applied to the Davidson County Chancery Court for permission to be released from these conditions, citing changed circumstances. This was followed in January by documents filed by the Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation, which restated the artist’s intention of maintaining the collection as a whole.

According to a statement released on February 3 by Fisk University President Hazel R. O’Leary, the historically Black institution is looking to sell Marsden Hartley’s Painting No. 3 (1913) and
Georgia O’Keeffe’s Radiator Building—Night, NewYork (1927), which art dealers have estimated could bring in a combined $16 to $20 million, in order to replenish the university’s endowment, endow faculty chairs in business, science, and mathematics, provide funding for the construction of a new science building, and pay for enhanced security and conservation for the remaining 99 works in the Stieglitz collection.

Fisk University currently has an art collection of 3826 objects, primarily African-American and African objects, according to spokesman Ken West. These include paintings by Romare Bearden and Harlem Renaissance muralist Aaron Douglas. The willingness to sell the Hartley and O’Keeffe paintings is not based on the view that “these two works don’t fit into the African-American experience,” he said, but because their deaccessioning (def: To remove a work of art from a museum's collection and sell it) is “the least disruptive way to achieve our strategic goals.”

Interesting to notes :
In 1926, Georgia O'Keeffe began to paint from the industrialization end of the spectrum with images of urban landscapes and sky scrappers which include: City Night; Shelton Hotel, New York #1; The Shelton with Sunspots; Radiator Building-Night, New York; New York with Moon; East River from the Shelton; Ritz Tower, Night; and New York Night. In these Georgia captured the height and distance of the structures in addition to the atmosphere in which they stand: the daylight or nighttime, the sky, the wind, etc. However, other characteristic urban components such as automobiles, streets, and people were not portrayed. In fact Georgia O'Keeffe never in her entire career painted people or any living creatures.

This is the review of the book :A beautifully illustrated, full-scale reappraisal of American painter Marsden Hartley (1877-1943), this rewarding biographical-critical study links his greatness, his mysticism and his private agony as a homosexual and an outsider. Born in Maine, Hartley retreated into his imagination after his mother died when he was eight and he relocated to Cleveland with his father and stepmother. Moving to Paris in 1912, he found his personal style in Berlin (1913-1915), blending autobiographical elements, cubist abstraction and personal symbolism. The death of a male friend, a German officer killed in battle in WWI, led Hartley to invest military iconography with erotic power. Returning to the U.S. in 1916, he reinvented himself through folk-art paintings on glass and revisionings of New Mexico's landscapes and Native American culture, a series he continued even after resettling in Berlin in 1921. Restless, plagued by poor sales, Hartley lived in Mexico, Hamburg, Nova Scotia, coming home to Maine in 1937, where he did strong figurative pictures, at once Christian and pagan, culminating in the mystical Mount Katahdin series. UC Santa Barbara art historian Robertson portrays a ``savagely direct'' painter who holds up a mirror to mainstream society.

Keyword Links:
O'Keeffe images, Marsden Hartley images, link to origional artical. Marsden Hartley was also a poet link to a site selling a CD with his works read - site includes free samples , Link to other art news on Art Talk Web Site (Our Index)

Posted by Paul Grant (follower of Basho)
Other Books of interest:

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