Meeting Halfway

GOK.jpg

The near-impoverished Fisk University, which is attempting to sell its extensive Georgia O’Keeffe art collection to raise money, has a new plan.

According to an article by Jennifer Brooks in The Tennessean, the new plan will make it very difficult for the university to ever sell the art and will result in a schedule in which the art rotates between the historically black university and a gallery in Arkansas:

The deal Fisk hopes to strike with Crystal Bridges would rotate the collection between Nashville and Bentonville, Ark.

The new agreement outlines the first schedule for the art swap: The art would remain at Fisk until 2013, go to Crystal Bridges for two years, then return to Fisk from 2015 to 2017 and continue to rotate every two years.

The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is located in Bentonville, Arkansas. Under the new agreement Fisk could sell $30 million worth of its art collection—including paintings not just by O’Keeffe (right) but also by Pablo Picasso and Paul Cezanne—but that would be it. Crystal Bridges, a gallery supported and controlled by Alice Walton, an heiress to the Wal-Mart fortune, could never buy the rest of the $73 million worth of art, called the Stieglitz collection.

Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper still objects to the agreement. As Cooper explains,

Selling [any part of] the Stieglitz Collection neither solves Fisk’s underlying financial problems nor honors the intent of the donor, Georgia O’Keeffe,” There are alternatives that would ensure the collection remains available to Fisk students and the Nashville public in a way that honors the mission and the history of Fisk.

By the terms of O’Keeffe’s 1949 gift to Fisk, if the school is unable to house and display the art the collection reverts to the Georgia O’Keefe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer