© 2024 KMUW
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

WAM has sold its Henry Moore sculpture. I'm not a fan of the decision

Henry Moore “Working Model for Three Piece No. 3: Vertebrae”
John Ernatt
Used with permission
Henry Moore “Working Model for Three Piece No. 3: Vertebrae”

The Wichita Art Museum made a decision and has followed through with the deaccession of a very important piece from its collection. They have sold the sculpture by British artist Henry Moore titled “Working Model for Three Piece No. 3: Vertebrae” to a private investor for 10.5 million dollars.

WAM and its board claims in its statement released Monday that “the proceeds from this sale will pave the way for the creation of an American Art Acquisition Fund allowing the museum to significantly increase funds available to purchase, conserve, and exhibit American Art.” Dr. Tera Hedrick, WAM’s curator stated, “With this sale, we have the ability to take British art and turn it into American art in keeping with our founder’s vision.”

I am not a fan of this decision. Henry Moore is dead. There are no more Henry Moores being made. WAM is painting with pretty broad strokes to suggest that only American art is important to the collection. But what of the painting by Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo, “Toast To The Sun”? Is that to be sold?

Whose vision are we going to rely on to buy new art to replace a masterpiece? The same people who recently bought the 3 ton Beth Lipman “Living History” piece which hangs in the foyer? I don’t know anyone who admits to liking that work, and I call it a pricey debacle.

Despite having a vault full of interesting work, we seem to see the same works that have been hanging for years, with very little change. And this recent sale feels like something that took place in the dead of night, with little transparency.

So yes, I am very concerned about the vision at WAM.

I’m waiting to find out if the new art they purchase will be stellar, or just another debacle.

Curt Clonts is a Wichita-born artist who volunteers as KMUW's art reviewer. When Curt isn’t working in his College Hill studio he is usually spending time with his wife, kids, and grandkids. He also spends the spring and summer months kayaking and camping.