Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

The Corcoran Gallery of Art now has a lot more money

Addition: An email exchange pointed out some defects in this entry.  I know that accredited museums, when they sell artworks, are supposed to only use the monies for new acquisitions.  I was making a joke. The Corcoran will not be using funds from the sale of the carpets for operations.

And related to the problems of the Corcoran and the problems of cultural planning within the city more generally, I offer these past entries for reference purposes:

-- Corcoran thinking of selling landmarked building, June 2012

-- Dancing with the one that brung ya, November 2011, about the role of the museum in DC in the context of National Memory and Mythmaking and the presence of federal government

-- Cultural resources planning in DC: In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king, January 2007, about the failure of multiple cultural institutions as an indicator of deeper problems

-- Arts, Artistic Production, and Culture Districts Revisited, April 2012, about the difference between arts as production and arts as consumption.

The Corcoran Gallery of Art in DC is in an unenviable position, as it competes against national museums that get a great deal of federal funding--the National Gallery of Art and various units of the Smithsonian Institution.

It hasn't helped that they haven't been able to figure out their position in the cultural marketplace, and even though they are independent of the federal government, they can still be harmed by it, as they were by the debacle over their display of Robert Mapplethorpe photographs in 1989 ("Crowd at Corcoran Protests Mapplethorpe Cancellation" from the New York Times), and then by their plans to go "Bilbao" with an expansion based on a Frank Gehry building, which was opposed in some quarters because of the design's discordance with Washington's predominate classical architectural style, but they couldn't pull it off anyway ("Corcoran Director Quits; Trustees Shelve Gehry Plans" from the Washington Post).  This led to the current problems they are in now (see the past blog entry, "The Corcoran Gallery in DC, MOCA in Los Angeles: two sides of a similar coin").

Lot 12: THE CLARK SICKLE-LEAF CARPET, Important Carpets from the William A. Clark Collection, Corcoran Gallery of Art. A Sickle-Leaf, vine scroll and palmette 'Vase'-technique carpet, probably Kirman, Southeast Persia. Approximately 8ft. 9in. by 6ft. 5in. (2.67 by 1.96m.). Pre-auction estimate: 5,000,000 - 7,000,000 USD. LOT SOLD. 33,765,000 USD (Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium).

However, to raise money I guess, they decided to deaccession their collection of rare carpets. 

The auction was yesterday at Sotheby's and according to the Doris Leslie Blau Gallery one of the carpets was sold for $33.8 million, which is a world record price, more than triple the previously highest price ($9.5 million).

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At 12:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hte Corcoran board has been run by total retards for the past 20 some years- people with idiotic ideas such as spending phantom money to get the criminal Frank Gheary to build a useless and super high cost addition onto the parking lot behind the art school- they needed to be weeded out and put out to pasture - they need a real dynamic personality to take it over and not destroy the facilities or to move it out to some stupid suburb- that's the kind of asinine thinking that has gone on with these imbeciles...

At 12:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

RL: Thanks for the heads up on this. One has to wonder how much the blackguards currently running the SS Corcoran into the ground will siphon off to sponsor their golden parachutes before they jump ship.

Anonymous 12:44 pm: Agreed that the Corcoran is a slo-motion disaster. However, it is more than just hubris and stupidity going on here. Unfortunately, the IRS, which should be prosecuting these crooks for their neglecting fiduciary responsibilities under the non-profit regulations, looks to be distracted for some time to come.

"This sale of Important Carpets from the William A. Clark Collection Sold by the Corcoran Gallery of Art to Benefit Future Acquisitions brought an impressive total of $43,764,750, over four times the pre-sale high estimate of $9.6 million, making it the most successful carpet auction ever held. The sale of 25 carpets was 100% sold, achieving “White Glove” status, and with every single lot achieving a price above its pre-sale high estimate. At least four bidders fought for over 10 minutes for the star lot, the important and revered 17th century Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet, which sold for an astounding price of $33,765,000 (est. $5/7 million), a new world auction record for any carpet by a significant margin. That price also establishes a new benchmark for any Islamic work of art at auction.


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