"nothing less than a theft of the art from Fisk"

 So says Fisk University in response to the Tennessee State Attorney Generals proposal for disposition of the Fisk-Stieglitz Collection.  In a proposal filed Friday in the Chancery Court Attorney General Robert Cooper would have the Tennessee Arts Commission take temporary possession of the collection.  Fisk University is seeking approval in Chancery Court for the approval of a partial sale of the collection to the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville Arkansas for $30 million.  Lee Rosenbaum notes that the Tennessee AG’s proposal would “honor donor Georgia O’Keeffe’s expressed wishes and do justice to a celebrated collection that was under-utilized at Fisk (which, for a time, had placed the Stieglitz Collection in storage at the Frist). But the deal would leave Fisk without its coveted $30-million windfall from Crystal Bridges”. 

This means the Chancery court will now have to weigh the sale of a partial interest in the collection in Arkansas in a move which might allow Fisk University to avoid closing for good against a plan which would keep the art in Nashville year-round but give very little compensation to the University. 

Donn Zaretzky, like Fisk University, is not a fan of the AG’s proposed Nashville-first settlement:

This of course does nothing (or very little) for Fisk, but, as we all know, benefiting Fisk was not part of O’Keeffe’s intent when she gave the Collection to Fisk. She could care less about Fisk! In fact she hated Fisk! What she really cared about was the People of Nashville. If Fisk goes under, hey, stuff happens. Not our problem. Our problem — as Lovers of Art — is to see to it that the donor’s intent is always satisfied. And obviously in this case O’Keeffe would have preferred that the works be shown at the Frist Center than have Fisk share the Collection with the Crystal Bridges Museum. So this is a Good Day For Art: the works will be leaving Fisk, but instead of going to Museum A, they will be going to Museum B, which is much better. Obviously.

  1. Erik Schelzig, Proposal made for art donated by O’Keeffe » Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2010/sep/13/proposal-made-for-art-donated-by-okeeffe/ (last visited Sep 13, 2010).
Questions or Comments? Email me at derek.fincham@gmail.com

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