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Thursday, September 23, 2004

And Now Things Get Really Interesting

In my post yesterday about the collection of drawings that Harvey Shipley Miller is trying to give to MoMA, I wondered what had happened in the last two months to cause Miller to seemingly change his stance about requiring MoMA to take either all of the works or none of them.

Well, as usual, Tyler Green at Modern Art Notes comes through with the dish. Miller has offered the collection to the Tate Modern, Green reports, and they've agreed to take it whole.

If this is true, it forces a whole new reading of the quote Miller gave to the Times about the terms of the gift. Let me reprint it here:
"The collection is not being presented to them as an all-or-nothing gift," Mr. Miller said. "If they want to accept some and not all of it, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. But knowing the views of the museum staff, I don't believe it will come to that."
Is he saying that MoMA can choose to take only part of the collection, but that if MoMA does make this choice there will be a bridge to be crossed (i.e., that the whole collection could be sent over the proverbial bridge across the pond to London)? And is he also implying that he's so sure that MoMA's staff won't have the guts to call his bluff that they will offer to take the whole collection whether or not they want it all?

If that's the case (and this might just be me over-reading a short quote), it seriously underscores one of the concerns I voiced about this gift in my previous post.

Miller used MoMA's name, his position on the board, and MoMA's drawings curator's reputation to assemble this collection. If he's now threatening to send it to another institution to pressure MoMA into taking the collection whole in order to maintain its reputation with artists and dealers around the world, that's nothing short of blackmail. A strange, reverse sort of blackmail, granted, but blackmail nonetheless.

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