Who should art belong to in times of economic crisis?
This weekend El País has published a series of articles about the challenges to the Spanish art world in this time of economic crisis. How do public institutions continue to acquire relevant and important works when their budgets are being scaled back? How do museums prevent a gaping hole – to paraphrase one of the authors – in their collections when wealthy inventors can easily speed away with a choice painting or sculpture? These questions and more are addressed.
In his article entitled “Atención: riesgo de amnesia” (Attention: Risk of Amnesia), Manuel Borja-Villel, Director of the Reina Sofía, states that the crisis will have irreversible consequences in the Spanish art world. He states, “To understand that culture is a right is essential; therefore it is necessary to set forth the opportunity for new management models” so that public art spaces gain just as much support as the private arena. He goes on to say that “if museums are repositories of memory, (Spain) runs the risk of amnesia.” (Translations are mine.)
Miguel Zaragoza, Director of the Prado, discusses the culture of art going to the highest bidder. In “Al mejor postor” (To the Highest Bidder), he points out that he wants Spain to hold on to what it has; now other emerging countries perhaps have the resources to acquire works that he feels “belong” to the Spanish people and culture, thus leaving a gaping hole in collections.
Is there a moral imperative to ensure that a Picasso, say, stays in Spain – rather than being swept up by the highest bidder and hung in a private home in Russia? How do museums and other public institutions ensure stability and a ripe future in a time when there is a huge potential for private acquisition? These questions are not solely Spain’s but are being asked throughout the world’s art institutions, both large and small.
To read more about this issue, visit the series of articles from El País.