Met Museum buys back $ 1 million in photos and prints to fill shortfall caused by pandemic



The Metropolitan Museum of Art will sell 219 prints and photographs to help fill a $ 150 million shortfall resulting from the pandemic.

The works, all copies from his collection, will be offered in three auctions at Christie’s, starting next month, the auction house announced today. The group includes pieces by Robert Frank, Roy Lichtenstein and Frank Stella. He is expected to raise between $ 904,600 and $ 1.4 million in total.

Larger works have also been put up for sale, but the museum does not know what they are. Tobias Meyer, a private art dealer and former star auctioneer at Sotheby’s, is among those advising the Met on its divestiture, the museum confirmed.

Robert Frank, Parade, Hoboken, New Jersey, 1955 (1955). Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd.

By selling art, the country’s largest museum takes benefit from a rare two-year window, until April 2022, during which the Association of Art Museum Directors allowed members to sell art in order to raise money for the care of the collection, rather than for the only acquisitions. Most of these sales sparked a public outcry. Last year, the Baltimore Museum of Art ended up removing major works by Andy Warhol, Clyfford Still and Brice Marden from Sotheby’s after revealing that it was not in financial difficulty, but rather wanted to diversify. his collection.

Met director Max Hollein took a different approach. We have significant endowment funds that are reserved for acquisitions only, ”said Hollein. Artnet News earlier this month. “It therefore seems appropriate to use the proceeds of our regular divestiture program to support the salaries of fundraising staff in this exceptional year. And that’s what we do.

The Met’s annual divestiture program is roughly $ 10 million, Hollein said. “The works we use for the assignment are duplicates, multiples, copies of the same thing [we have] in better quality.

Frank Stella, Stella_Star of Persia II, from the Star of Persia series (Axsom 2) (1967). Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd.

The first will be a dedicated online auction of 168 lots of Civil War photographs, to be held from September 24 to October 7, according to Christie’s. A set of 16 lots, including seven images of Frank from his book Americans, will be offered in a live photography auction on October 6. The rest of the works are prints and multiples, which will be featured in the “A Graphic Century: 1875-1975” online sale from November 4-18.

Estimates start at $ 1,000, Christie’s said. A photograph of a George Barnard military bridge is estimated between $ 1,500 and $ 2,500. The most expensive lot is Frank’s photo US 90, en route to Del Rio, Texas, 1955, estimated between $ 150,000 and $ 250,000, according to Christie’s.

Eadweard Muybridge, Animal Locomotion, an electro-photographic investigation of the consecutive phases of animal movements, 1887 (1872-1885). Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd.

The Met holds one of the largest and most famous collections of Civil War photographs of any public institution, most of which was acquired in 1933 from the collection of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion, indicated the auction house.

They are all from the 1860s, and most depict views of static objects, such as military bridges, trains, and hospitals. There may be an image of a battalion posing for a shot, but no battle scenes. This is because a photographer would use a large camera on a tripod, and from start to finish everything was done in the field, so most of the footage is static, rather than combat.

“Nothing happens during the action,” said Darius Himes, international photography manager at Christie’s. “It’s rooted in the landscape tradition.

The category includes a niche market, where works are valued as much as historical documents as for their aesthetic qualities, Himes said.

The 16 works in the live auction include pieces by Brassai, Frank, Andre Kertesz, Eadweard Muybridge and a book of photogravures published by the New York Camera Club in 1900.

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