Stieglitz Collection to Crystal Bridges in fall 2013: UPDATE | Rock Candy

Friday, August 3, 2012

Stieglitz Collection to Crystal Bridges in fall 2013: UPDATE

Posted By on Fri, Aug 3, 2012 at 9:49 AM

OKeeffes Radiator Building, Night, New York
  • O'Keeffe's "Radiator Building, Night, New York"

That's what Culturegrrl, aka Lee Rosenbaum, reported on her blog yesterday. She spoke to Fisk University's lawyer, C. Michael Norton, about the final ruling in the long-running lawsuit over Fisk University's decision to sell a half share of its Alfred Stieglitz Art Collection to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art for $30 million, money Fisk desperately needs to stay in business. Georgia O'Keeffe donated her late husband's collection to Fisk in 1949.

Rosebaum quotes Norton, thusly:

As for the sharing schedule, the joint agreement stipulates that the Collection will remain at Fisk [in Nashville] until the Fall of 2013, then spend two years at Crystal Bridges and then return to Fisk. The contemplation is for a two-year rotation, but the oversight committee can set another schedule, so long as the exhibition time at each location is equal.

The Association of Art Museum Directors is unhappy about the Fisk decision; it issued this statement Dec. 8, 2011:

AAMD believes that art collections owned by colleges and universities are an irreplaceable component of academic and community life and that they should not be treated as disposable financial assets. Art museums and galleries — standing alone or operated as part of a college or university — fundamentally compromise the field’s core principles and negatively impact the entire art museum community when they sell art to support operations.

Here's a question that I'd like someone to answer: If the struggling black university had to close, what would happen to the artwork? Would it go on the auction block? Or would it have gone to the O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe? A Tennessee appeals court ruled in 2009 that the collection was not part of O'Keeffe's estate and the museum had no claims on it. It's impossible to know, of course, what O'Keeffe would have made of the sharing plan. She and
Alice Walton, who created Crystal Bridges, might have hit it off.

The collection includes O'Keeffe's "Radiator Building," which the O'Keeffe museum sought to buy for $7 million, and French impressionist work along with important American paintings, including Marsden Hartley's "Painting No. 3."

For a list of work in the collection, go here.

UPDATE: Crystal Bridges has issued a press release about the art-sharing agreement. (It does not include the "detail" mentioned in paragraph 7 about Fisk's plan to use the money; Crystal Bridges spokesman Dianne Carroll provided me a link to the missing information.

Stieglitz Collection Art-Sharing Agreement Finalized
Arrangement for Half-interest Between Crystal Bridges and Fisk Complete

BENTONVILLE — An important art collection will remain intact and be viewed, appreciated, and studied by a wide public audience now that a long-term collection-sharing relationship is finalized between Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and Fisk University in Nashville.

The agreement for sharing the Stieglitz Art Collection, bequeathed in 1949 by artist Georgia O’Keeffe to Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., was finalized by the Chancery Court and the Tennessee Attorney General on June 13 and filed by the Davidson County Chancery Court on July 31. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and Fisk University each now own a 50 percent interest in the collection, which will be exhibited at both institutions at rotating two-year intervals. The agreement will allow the works to remain on display at Fisk for two uninterrupted years out of every four, thus allowing every Fisk student the opportunity to view or study the artwork for a period during the student’s academic career.

The Stieglitz Collection will be available for view and study by a wide audience at Crystal Bridges during its alternating two-year stay in Bentonville, Ark. Once planning and coordination between Fisk University and Crystal Bridges has been completed, a debut exhibition schedule will be announced. Crystal Bridges has welcomed nearly 500,000 visitors since opening to the public on 11-11-11.

The sharing agreement will enable Crystal Bridges and Fisk to co-administer the ongoing care and maintenance of the works of art, advance the educational scope of the collection for study and public appreciation, and to expand the artistic legacy of the artists whose works are included in the collection.

“We are looking forward to working with Fisk University as we begin this partnership and eventually present the Stieglitz Collection to the very large—and growing—Crystal Bridges audience,” said Don Bacigalupi, executive director, Crystal Bridges.

“It’s been many years and we are grateful for the time, effort and final court decision that will enable Crystal Bridges to enhance public access to this important collection. We’re feeling great about the future of the Stieglitz Collection. The Fisk-Crystal Bridges partnership keeps the collection intact and ensures its long-term preservation and access,” said Alice Walton, Crystal Bridges’ board chair.

In a release issued by Fisk University, Hazel O’Leary, President of Fisk, said, “We are, obviously, very pleased that this case was resolved in a manner that will ensure the future financial security of Fisk with most of the funds being used to strengthen Fisk’s endowment. We are also gratified to have Crystal Bridges as our partner in the ownership and care of the Collection. Crystal Bridges is rapidly becoming one of the finest art museums in the country, if not the world. Our sharing arrangement broadens the access to the collection.” More detail about the use of the funds received by Fisk is set out below.

President O’Leary added, “‘Fisk Forever!’ has been the popular rallying cry of Fisk for decades. Today it has become a reality. Fisk will remain as Nashville’s oldest university, which has and will continue to provide a nationally recognized educational experience for its students and also to make an important contribution to Nashville’s culture and history. The Stieglitz Collection is not lost to Nashville, but is saved to be exhibited here for two of every four years. Fisk will, probably for the first time, have the financial ability and professional expertise available at Crystal Bridges to do everything necessary and appropriate to care for and exhibit the Collection.”

Victor Simmons, Director and Curator of the Fisk University Galleries, said, “Alfred Stieglitz spent much of his life advocating and supporting American art, including the support of American artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove, John Marin and Charles Demuth, among many others. I can think of no better place for the art to be exhibited, while away from Fisk, than in a museum of such quality and as dedicated to American Art as is Crystal Bridges.”

About the Stieglitz Collection
In 1949, Georgia O'Keeffe donated to Fisk University The Alfred Stieglitz Collection of Modern American and European Art. Consisting of 101 objects, 97 of which come from her late husband’s art collection and four that were owned by O'Keeffe, The Stieglitz Collection contains a survey of modern art from the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth century, including those by such masters as Paul Cezanne, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Pablo Picasso, and Diego Rivera, who were revered by modern American artists such as Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove, and Charles Demuth, who are also represented in the collection. Additionally, the collection includes the iconic painting by Georgia O’Keeffe, The Radiator Building.

About Crystal Bridges
The mission of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is to welcome all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of landscape. We explore the unfolding story of America by actively collecting, exhibiting, interpreting, and preserving outstanding works that illuminate our heritage and artistic possibilities.

Opened to the public on 11-11-11, Crystal Bridges was founded in 2005 by Alice Walton, who chairs the Museum's board of directors.

Fisk University

Founded in 1866, Fisk University is Nashville’s first institution of higher education and it currently ranks in the top 10 percent of all liberal arts institutions in the nation, according to Washington Monthly. Fisk is one of six Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) listed in Forbes magazine’s 2011 edition of “America’s Best Colleges” and has been ranked in The Princeton Review’s “Best 373 Colleges” publication for twenty consecutive years. U.S. News and World Report ranks Fisk #144 in the elite Tier One group of 246 liberal arts institutions selected for the distinction among the 1,400 colleges and universities in the nation and Fisk is one of only three HBCUs ranked in Tier One. Fisk has earned three R & D 100 Awards for work in the creation of radiation detectors developed in collaboration with several national laboratories and corporations. No other HBCU has earned an R & D 100 Award. According to the National Science Foundation, Fisk produces more African-Americans who go on to earn doctoral degrees in the natural sciences than any school in the nation. For more information on Fisk University, please visit

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