The MFA buyeth, and the the MFA selleth away.
BOSTON, MA.- The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), recently acquired three paintings by leading African-American artists of the 20th century at the African-American Fine Art Sale at Swann Auctions (NY): Untitled (about 1960–64) by Norman Lewis; The Juggler #1 (about 1964) by Hughie Lee-Smith; and 715 Washington Street (1947), by Walter Simon. The MFA purchased the Lewis for $312,000—the highest price ever realized at auction for an abstract work by an African American artist, and an auction record for any work by the artist. The Simon, which also set an auction record for the artist, was purchased with Museum funds raised by the MFA’s Heritage Fund for a Diverse Collection—an art acquisition fund established in 2005 for the purpose of diversifying the Museum’s collection of American art. “These recent purchases are in keeping with our commitment to deepen the MFA’s collection of 20th-century African-American art,” said Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. “We are particularly delighted to have acquired works by these three noteworthy artists, which will find a permanent home in the Museum’s new American Wing when it opens in late 2010.”
What went unsaid is that the MFA is selling more than a dozen other African-American artworks from its collection at a Swann Gallery auction in New York next month.
This trade-off is reminiscent of the MFA’s Great Degas Swap ten years ago.
Let’s hope it works out as well.
Meanwhile, look for the MFA’s discards to turn up in a Michael Rosenfeld Gallery exhibit next year.