BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors

Off the Wall

How museums contribute to the worth of artworks

Visitors in the Museum of Modern Art
Visitors in the Museum of Modern Art

That the public largely generates the cultural value of an artwork is what we have recently reviewed in the post A private matter. But not only does the cultural worth depend on public accessibility, but also the monetary value of an artwork can drastically increase if it is included in an important museum’s exhibition.

Journalist Melanie Gerlis has recently discussed concerns about this dependence in The Art Newspaper. She mentions that privately owned works that have been part of a significant show are shortly after likely to be to sell off by the collector at a much higher price.

As one of Christie’s specialists states: "Once something is off the wall, it is easier to think about parting with it." This was the case in a recent auction of the René Magritte painting "Les Chasseurs au Bord de la Nuit" (1928) that was sold for nearly 10 million dollars after it was shown in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City.

The show had undoubtedly increased the work’s value as it achieved a remarkably high price. A similar course of action occurred with two privately owned paintings that were included in a show at the Tate Britain and London’s National Portrait Gallery.

But why be concerned? Is this not merely "common business" in a highly unregulated art market? To a certain extent this may be true, but one should not forget that quickly sold-off works are often meant to be part of a travelling exhibition. At times they do not make it to more than one venue and instead venture back into the private realm. 
Some museums follow this public-private relationship with concern. Is it time for more regulation?

Image by Ingfbruno via Wikimedia Commons (CC Licence Info)

More Information on The Art Newspaper

Insiders (54)

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Barbara Moore

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Alix Dana

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When Collectors are Able to Commission

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Juliet Kothe and Julia Rust

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Marie-Anne McQuay

Curator of Wales in Venice, 58th Venice Biennale 2019

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Two extraordinary art collectors

Heather Hubbs

Director at NADA

Every Art Collection Needs Space

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

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A Common Ground

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Touria El Glaoui

Founding Director of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair

Caroline Vos

Director at Amsterdam Art Weekend

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by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Daniel Hug

Fair Director at Art Cologne

The Role of the Art Fair

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Nicole Berry

Executive Director of The Armory Show

Peter Bläuer

Director at LISTE

A Brush Against Nature

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Ilaria Bonacossa

Director of Artissima

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by Independent Collectors

Jo Stella-Sawicka

Artistic Director at Frieze

Florence Bourgeois

Director at Paris Photo

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by Christiane Meixner

Specifically Commissioned

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Manuela Mozo

Executive Director of UNTITLED, ART Miami and San Francisco

Important Museums and Private Collections

by Christiane Meixner

Susanna Corchia

Director of the Barcelona Gallery Weekend

Emilia van Lynden

Artistic Director at Unseen, Amsterdam

Carlos Urroz

Director at ARCOmadrid

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by Christiane Meixner

Amanda Coulson

Director at VOLTA Basel

Douwe Cramer

Director at Singapore Contemporary

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by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Jo Baring

Curator of Sculpture Series, Masterpiece London

Bidders and Buyers

by Christiane Meixner

Anne Vierstraete

Managing Director at Art Brussels

Nanna Hjortenberg

Director at CHART

The Crucial Role of the New

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Makers and Believers

On Art History’s Most Famous Patrons

The Past is Back

And collectors are buying it up

Are Artists the Better Curators?

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The Digital Museum

On the importance of the museum’s web presence

The Man in the Middle

On the curator’s private and public engagements

A Private Matter?

On the importance of physical space for the value of art

Where to Go Next?

The fragmentation of Manhattan’s gallery scene

To Buy or Not to Buy

Collectors on their experiences of letting an artwork slip away

How to Pass On a Passion

On long-term challenges for new private museums