10 June, 2011

WA Museum & MoMA

"The Australian cultural scene has achieved a milestone: the Art Gallery of Western Australia has secured a deal with the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) for a historical exhibition featuring the works of the greatest artists of all time."

"The Modern Masters exhibition will be the first of six exhibitions showcasing MoMA's collection, with subsequent shows drawing works from each of the museum's curatorial departments, including design and photography.

The WA government allocated $6 million in the recent budget to help with underwriting the cost of the exhibition."

Cultural cringe. This would have been acceptable if it included MoMA presenting six US exhibitions of Australian art. Instead we have Australian funds being used to market MoMA's already overexposed collection when we should be spending those monies to market our grossly impoverished  Australian art overseas.

The exhibition entitled Picasso to Warhol: Twelve Modern Masters, is set to open for viewing next week and will feature up to 100 works from MoMa's distinguished collection. ... This  ... exhibition is made possible by the Art Gallery's head Dr. Stefano Carboni, who has previously worked for the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art.   source

If only Mr Carboni had used his contacts to tour six Australian exhibitions overseas. He's missed an opportunity to also make WA's collection "distinguished".
"This is certainly demonstrating Perth and WA is right up there internationally and we're not just seen as being important in relation to economic development and the development of our resource sector," Mr Day told AAP.
This simply re-inforces the insignificance of Australia's presence in the international arts community. WA is perceived as a colonial client whose population can be exploited as consumers.  Were it seen as an equal partner the terms of the agreement would reflect this and the US government would be financing a tour of six exhibitions of Australian Masters. Not disclosed was the cost to MoMA or the amount of sponsorship from Ernst & Young in bringing these works to Perth.

MoMA's collection is not so much "
the works of the greatest artists of all time" as the greatest marketed works of all time, and the Australian population is paying.

Under a deal struck with the MoMA, the WA State gallery will become the only Australian venue to host the exhibitions twice a year, effectively setting up a branch of the famous New York art museum in the Perth Cultural Centre until the end of 2015.  Source

And are we also setting up a branch of WA State Gallery in New York?

The Art Gallery of Western Australia and Ernst & Young today announced Ernst & Young will become the Principal Series Sponsor for the Great Collections of the World series, in a three- year agreement that will run from July 2011 through to June 2014. The new sponsorship agreement elevates the firm’s Gallery sponsorship to sole Principal Series Sponsor for the Great Collections series during the next three years.  .... Ernst & Young Perth Managing Partner, Michael Anghie, said Ernst & Young’s increased sponsorship followed the success of the Peggy Guggenheim: A Collection in Venice exhibition which drew thousands to the Gallery, and was part of the firm’s ongoing commitment to support world-class exhibitions touring Perth.  Source gallery media release

Minister's media release

The question is how much revenue will the gallery earn from ticket sales and what proportion of revenues will be retained in Australia. There is the potential to move tons of gift shop mechandise, all promoting the MoMA collection.

Australia's position as an international art force is largely dependent on its ability to participate equally on the world's stage. Of the dozen or so major art fairs, such as Art Basel next week, there is little, if any, participation by Australian artists and galleries. If you dig deep you may find the odd Australian artist represented by an overseas gallery, or the odd gallery making a one-off appearance. $6million would have gone a long way to address this inadequacy.

Until Australia starts participating on equal footing in all venues, it will continue to be an overlooked non-influential minor player. The monies invested on imported art would be better spent on exports.

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