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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Embarrassment by Riches

I've stood up for Malcolm Rogers's shenanigans before, thinking that while renting paintings to a commercial gallery in Las Vegas was questionable it didn't cross the line into unethical practice.

Today, though, The Boston Globe has changed my opinion of Rogers's aggressive fundraising tactics with a piece on the MFA's newest exhibition--a vanity show (including yachts!) of money-man William Koch's unfocused collection.

By currying favor with a prominent collector in this way, Rogers has seriously damaged the institution's credibility--essentially turning it into a gallery space for rent. (Ralph Lauren last month. Koch this month. Who's next?) Rogers must know he's on shaky ground here. In the piece he defends the show by comparing it to what the Guggenheim has done lately. Trying to pass off the Guggenheim as the paradigm of integrity? Please.

Neither Rogers nor Koch seems to realize how transparent the driver is behind Rogers's decision to mount the exhibition. Can't either of them see that the courtesan position the MFA has assumed by hosting this show creates a situation that is an embarrassment to both of them personally and to the MFA as an institution?

I wonder if anyone on the MFA's board can see it. I sure hope so. And I hope board members decide to take action. Things have gone too far off course in Boston. It's time for a correction burn. I wasn't convinced of that earlier, but I am now.

Related: Modern Art Notes on this "giant slurp job."

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