Friday, December 11, 2009

No conflict no interests

(Above Damien Hirst in his recent exhibition, Requiem, at the Pinchuk Art Centre in Kiev, Ukraine).

A new art prize to honor artists under 35. Oh, so Mr. Pinchuk "enlists" established names of artists he collects, such as Damien Hirst,  Murakami, Andreas Gursky and Jeff Koons* —to serve as "mentors" who will make themselves available to the finalists and the winner. Pinchuk's board? Star power: Eli Broad (who also runs an art foundation), Ms. Prada, the fashion designer and collector (who runs her own art foundation in Milan); and singer Elton John (coincidentally, Pinchuk Art Center has shown Mr. John's photo collection).

Why does it smell circuitously foul?
Is there a code of ethics for the art market? How about private collection shows? The curator who accepts artworks for including artists in exhibits, or the art patron's holdings being displayed in traveling shows and/or auctions in exchange for connections and political influence? Coincidentally, Pinchuk is son-in-low of Leonid Kuchma, the controversial ex-president of Ukraine. His wife, Elena Franchuk, is believed to have purchased the world's most expensive home in London.
*Á propos of conflict of interest: In March 2010, Koons will be guest curator of his own work at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in Manhattan, showcasing the collection of Dakis Joannou, his most important buyer. By some negotiation behind doors, the famous artist gets to play the curator, simultaneously showing and "arranging" his own work at a museum. As Koons' foremost collector, Joannou vicariously becomes presenter -and presented!
More on conflict of interests:

The trustee's own acquisitions must not compete with his museum's; he is obligated to put the collecting ambitions of his institution before his own. The collections management policy should itemize in detail the collecting interests of the museum so that trustees who collect are put on notice that certain activities related to their personal collecting must be circumscribed while they serve on the board....

The ethical standards that the board adopts for managing potential conflicts of interest for trustees are, in some museums, the same as those applied to the staff. The rules for staff with respect to collecting generally aim to prevent situations in which staff members compete with the museum or profit from their positions or official duties....

The trustee who collects could be liable to the museum for profits he makes as a provable consequence of actions taken by the museum if his participation was a major influence in the institution's decision to take those actions. Such a case might occur, for example, if he persuaded the museum to hold an exhibition of objects represented in his personal collection and then was able to sell those objects at a profit. Whether his objects were exhibited or not, there is a conflict of interest and potential liability to the museum in this situation. (Taken from "Museum Trusteeship" by Alan and Patricia Ullberg, published in 1981 by the American Association of Museums).


Anonymous said...

Very true.

Anonymous said...

Who needs an agency regulating what people sell?

miamibourbaki said...

How about a clear and compelling code of ethics being part of the hiring process?

Anonymous said...

I love art but the business of art sucks!