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The week in art news – Brooklyn Museum to sell 12 works at auction

19 September 2020

The Brooklyn Museum has consigned a dozen works from its collections to Christie’s for auction, in the first significant example of a US museum taking advantage of loosened regulations on deaccessioning that were announced by the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) in April. According to the new rules, which were introduced to help combat the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, over the next two years museums will not be penalised for deaccessioning artworks in order to cover ‘expenses associated with the direct care of collections’. The works earmarked for sale at the Brooklyn Museum include an oil panel by Lucas Cranach the Elder (the only work it holds by the artist), which is estimated to fetch $1.2m–$1.8m, as well as paintings by Corot and Courbet. Speaking to the New York Times, the museum’s director Anne Pasternak said it is hoping to raise a $40m fund that can generate $2m a year, and will ensure the ‘longevity and care’ of the rest of its collections.

Five weeks before the fair was scheduled to take place, the organisers of FIAC have cancelled this year’s edition of the event at the Grand Palais, citing the ‘numerous difficulties’ created by the pandemic. The decision has split opinion, with some critics pointing to the successful staging of Art Paris last weekend, and arguing that FIAC could have gone ahead in a similar fashion. A group of dealers set to exhibit at the fair, including Chantal Crousel, Emmanuel Perrotin and Almine Rech, have signed a letter criticising what they describe as ‘the lack of ethics and irresponsible attitude’ of those who objected to its cancellation.

The Royal Academy of Arts in London on Thursday told staff that the organisation will be reducing its workforce by 40 per cent, equivalent to some 150 jobs. A formal redundancy consultation will begin next month, with the aim of cutting annual costs by £8m, in an attempt to counter the ‘severe financial pressure’ placed on the institution by Covid-19. A spokesperson has said that the consultation will ‘affect all areas and levels of the organisation’.

The designer and entrepreneur Terence Conran has died at the age of 88. From the opening of his first Habitat shop on the Fulham Road in 1964, Conran was a towering figure in the British design world. In 1989 he founded the Design Museum, a non-profit institution that in 2016 was relaunched at its new home in South Kensington. For more on Conran’s career, read Gillian Darley’s piece for Apollo here.