MOMA as Manipulator By Boris Lurie (Part 1): The Museum of Modern Art is not just another "museum," not just another showplace for supposedly "great" artworks. Because it is a museum of MODERN art, because it is concerned with current artistic ideas and emerging art movements, and, most importantly, because it deals to a great extent with living artists, the museum enjoys a unique position in the making or breaking of emerging artists. It is important to realize the true function ot the Museum of Modern Art in the manipulation and promotion of market-place art, that is, all modern art by masters, for the benefit of collectors, investors and dealers. Key members of such promotional groups often sit on decision-making Museum committees, and together with the Museum promote acceptable artists and art movements, always at the expense of the mass of artists consisting of both the acceptable and unacceptable varieties. The by-product of these activities will further the general art education of people in acceptable art only, however, the ensueing popularization inevitably leads to a widening of the market for art products,such as art objects, reproductions, and art books.The Museum becomes a country club, serving as a meeting place for the cementing and furthering of business and social relations between trustees, members, staff and outside business people, accepted artists, and other professionals. The Museum enjoys a regular tax-exempt status as all charitable and cultural foundations do. Gifts are tax deductible.Owners of works of art can donate them, benefit from tax deductions, and still retain such works on a loan basic. Museum-owned works are loaned out to enhance the prestige of business firms and members. The staff of the Museum basically functions in an advisory capacity to the trustees, it has no policy-making powers power by advising and directing the trustees, staff members are "art experts" while the trustees are basically businessmen, and it is only natural that they will take the advice of these "experts". Unless a new art movement is totally unacceptable to trustees and influential members, on social, psychological or on investment grounds, the staff, in cooperation with interested parties, is in a very good position to promote, and indeed does promote, such art movements. Examples of such art movements are then included in Museum collections and exhibited, which constitutes a clear sign to other collector-investors of excellent sponsorship and an open invitation to join the bandwagon. Exhibits are arranged all over this country and also abroad, and a wide promotional campaign is thus mounted. In some cases the staff itself will acquire works of upcoming artists simultaneously or even before acquisitions are made by trustees and members for their own and for the Museum accounts (such as in the case of Jasper Johns).
© by Dietmar Kirves
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