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Artists of Toledo

Toledo’s broken promise to the Cezanne Exhibition in Chicago

Cezanne Exhibition, Art Institute of Chicago
May 15 – September 5, 2022

While the Toledo Museum of Art does nothing — there has been no Art Matters quarterly member magazine since January, no Robert and Sue Savage Community Gallery as promised to us in May 2021, no blockbuster shows in the Canaday or Levis exhibition galleries that mostly have been empty, except for a couple of uninteresting shows —  the Art Institute of Chicago is having its third blockbuster exhibition since the pandemic began in 2020 — El Greco, Monet, and now the most important Cezanne retrospective in 16 years.

We saw it. It was great. It gave me a renewed understanding as to why Cezanne is called a painter’s painter, why he is considered the father of modern art, and why he is so highly regarded, even among the new generation of artists.

Wondering if the curators had asked to borrow one of our Cezannes for the show, we found the answer in the published catalog – a beautiful definitive book aptly titled Cezanne. There in the book on page 154, reproduced on a full page, was our Avenue at Chantilly, Catalog #83 listed for the Chicago show. On the acknowledgement page, among 70 other museums, the Toledo Museum of Art is thanked for making their work available for display in the exhibition.

But for the past several months since this show has been up, Avenue at Chantilly has been hanging in Gallery 35 at the Toledo Museum of Art, and not in the Art Institute of Chicago’s Cezanne Exhibition! Wondering if I had somehow missed our painting at the Chicago Cezanne show, I called the Toledo Museum of Art to check to see if it is on display in Toledo, and I was assured that it is indeed on display, in Gallery 35.

I wonder if the reason why it is not in Chicago is because the Toledo Museum of Art made an abrupt decision to deaccession our other Cezanne painting, The Glade, after the museum committed our only other Cezanne to the Chicago’s Cezanne retrospective. Weren’t we assured that deaccessioning was a thoughtful, long process? Apparently not in this case, as the book went to press in 2022 (or very late 2021, as the book was dedicated to one of the curators who died in November 2021. )

It seems that our museum felt so much guilt about their rash decision to deaccession the painting that they broke their commitment to their peer museum and pulled it from the exhibition after the book went to press.  As Director Adam Levine informed Toledoans on April 8 when he announced the shocking deaccessions of not only their only other Cezanne painting, but of their other Matisse painting and a Renoir bather, the museum’s only other Cezanne painting and Renoir painting and Matisse painting would always be on display on the walls of the Toledo Museum of Art.

What would make the Toledo Museum of Art break a promise to important colleagues and peer institutions — the other museums in the United States that they so much want to make an impression on in their 5-year plan, to be a great example of a museum that all other museums would look towards as an example of how all museums should be?

Quotes from the Toledo Museum of Art’s 5-year plan —

The Toledo Museum of Art will become the model art museum in the United States for its commitment to quality and its culture of belonging. 

By authentically connecting quality with belonging, TMA can become one of the museums in this country from which others learn.

TMA’s transformation will be heralded by the press and will set the bar for museum peers. 

How does that make Toledo trustworthy or how can they ever expect to be a good example to other museums? Will other museums be willing to loan paintings to Toledo in the future after this, if Toledo ever has the wherewithal to put together a traveling show?

World-class exhibitions that speak to 21st century issues will draw Northwest Ohioans and out-of-towners alike, with tourists shocked and delighted to be welcomed by a diverse and empowered staff so clearly loving what they do and the institution they serve. TMA’s exhibitions will depart Toledo to traverse the globe, providing the Museum and its hometown the visibility it once enjoyed.

In Christopher Knight’s May 6, 2022 COMMENTARY: AN OHIO MUSEUM IS HOLDING THE BIGGEST SALE OF ARTWORK YET. IT’S UNCONSCIONABLE, he interviewed Director Adam Levine, who told him that market realities made the difference in pulling the trigger right now on the deaccession of the paintings.  What would the market realities be, I wonder, that would make the Toledo Museum of Art renege on a commitment as important as lending Avenue at Chantilly to Chicago’s seminal exhibition on Cezanne?

Strangely, two of the paintings that were suddenly deaccessioned – the most valuable ones – were bought by the same buyer at the auction on May 17, as reported in Barron’s the evening of the auction. Could it be that there was a collector who told the museum they would buy the paintings, now or never, and the museum didn’t care about anyone – the public or their peers?

It is a gross thought that Toledo Museum of Art might be cannibalizing itself. They have tarnished their reputation among peers by reneging on a promise while lying to the public about the reason for the deaccessions. Edward Drummond Libbey did not advocate that the museum have only one example of a great artist’s paintings. The paintings were not “mediocre.” Adam Levine invoked a Libbey quote to support the sale: “Let the multitudinous array of the mediocre be relegated to the past and in its place be found the highest quality, the best examples and the recognition of only those thoughts which will stand for all time.”

That so-called mediocre painting brought $41.7 million at the auction proving its greatness. What’s more, our Toledo museum did not need the money! Chicago owns 9 Cezanne oil paintings, Detroit owns 5 Cezanne oil paintings, Cleveland owns 3 Cezanne oil paintings, now we own only 1, and that painting was supposed to have been in Chicago’s Cezanne Exhibition, but it wasn’t, after it was promised and after that promise was memorialized in a book. Our museum let down a national community from seeing it! The museum let Toledo down, because Toledoans would have felt proud to see our painting hanging in the show, but instead this makes us feel shame and embarrassment for living in Toledo. 

Just another lie when Toledo gets credit in the book for being in the show.

Perhaps Adam Levine doesn’t mind breaking promises – he certainly doesn’t mind lying to us – when our museum still gets credit in an important Cezanne book for being in the show – why not pull it out of the show — it was too late to make corrections — the opportunity of selling our other Cezanne painting — was it to a demanding secret buyer who just couldn’t wait four months until the show was over, was that the “market reality” that was just too good to pass up?  One can only speculate, but an investigation needs to be conducted to find out the truth.

Adam Levine had a fiduciary duty to preserve our valuable collection for the future, and he should never have reneged on a commitment to lending our Avenue at Chantilly to an important public show. The Art Institute of Chicago is the true example of what all museums strive for — this show is the third blockbuster they have put on since the pandemic. Our museum, under Adam Levine’s leadership has done nothing but sell off our great French Impressionist paintings, creep out most of Toledo with their burnt American flag acquisition, and make our city a laughing stock of the art world.

We should save our museum and save our city’s reputation by changing course now with new leadership at the museum.

EDITORIAL – TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART SHOULD KEEP ITS TOP TIER

The Blade, Editorial Board, April 25, 2022 

Selling off Paul Cezanne’s Clairière (The Glade); Henri Matisse’s Fleurs ou Fleurs devant un portrait; and Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Nu s’essuyant simply makes no sense. These and other proven lasting works draw people to the museum from near and far.

Every museum director retains the right to pursue their own paths as Adam Levine is doing. Yet the museum is an integral part of Toledo’s art culture. The museum is not in a vacuum. While privately maintained, the museum does represent Toledo to the outside world.

Categories
Artists of Toledo

August open letter to the museum

A lot of brave Americans fought and died under the American flag…Toledo is Jeep country, after all. Have some respect.

Open Letter to the Board of Directors of The Toledo Museum of Art:

A burnt flag with a cartoon-like drawing of a black man pasted into it is a terrible insult to this country, to our community, and to me personally. But the Toledo Museum of Art has added such a work to their recent acquisitions. Interestingly, it was previously owned by the family of the curator of modern and contemporary art at the Brooklyn Museum. Adam Levine had to draw upon four endowment funds to pay for it, and three of the deceased benefactors whose art funds he drew upon served our country in World War II. In fact, almost everyone in our community has ancestors, family members, or else they themselves have fought under the American flag. Some people have just moved to our country, to our city, with a desire to live under the ideals of the American flag. For the museum to buy a burnt flag to hang on the museum’s wall, telling us they are collecting art that reflects our community, is disgusting.

There are many reasons why the Toledo Museum of Art should not have bought this “painting” besides the deeply hurt feelings of the community, including that it is stated in the U.S. Code, Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 8, Respect for flag, (g): The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.” And here it is in the Ohio Revised Code Title 29 Section 292 2927.11 – Desecration (A): No person, without privilege to do so, shall purposely deface, damage, pollute, or otherwise physically mistreat any of the following: (1) The flag of the United States or of this state. Yet The Toledo Museum of Art celebrates, with their expensive purchase shaming deceased donors, the disrespect and desecration of the flag.

Here is my blog post about how deeply offensive this acquisition is, and about the deceased donors from whom the funds were pulled to purchase it, whose memory it deeply dishonors: Marvin and Lenore Kobacker, Mr. and Mrs. Robert J. Barber, Mrs. George W. Stevens, and Florence Scott Libbey and her father, Maurice A. Scott — Why a burnt flag painting is wrong.

Here are other important issues I wish to address:

  1. What about the remote stewards (workers) of our museum? Since when are the people who run the Toledo museum too good to live here? Along with the spokesman about the sale of the French Impressionist paintings, John Stanley, a retired temporary consultant without an art degree who came from New York who I am pretty sure does not live in Toledo, I’m referring to the Communications Manager who lives in Lansing, the Brand Director who lives in Boulder, the consulting curator of African Art, Lanisa Kitchiner, who works full time for the Library of Congress in Washington DC (who doesn’t have an art history degree), and the consulting curator of Ancient Art, Carlos Picón, who is the director of the Colnaghi art gallery in New York and an ancient art dealer. I wrote a blog post about it, about our authentic story, and about the museum’s treatment of the local artist community. The Remote Control of Our Museum Culture.
  1. What about the $54 million from the Cézanne and Matisse deaccessions that had been purchased with the Edward Drummond Libbey Endowment Fund? Shouldn’t that have gone back to the Edward Drummond Libbey fund to be used on new acquisitions? Where did that money go? Is it in a new endowment as stated by Adam Levine in his April 8 announcement of the deaccessioning of the three French Impressionist paintings? If so, what is the name of the fund? And if so, why is it not back in the Libbey fund, and what financial institution handles that fund?
  1. Will the museum and/or board members be making an investigation into the sale of the Cézanne and Matisse paintings that sold at auction collectively for $59 million to the SAME buyer, as reported in Barron’s Magazine (but not in The Blade for some reason)? What are the odds? Since this puts a cloud of corruption hanging over the museum in regard to the possibility that the sale was prearranged with the buyer, the museum and board should investigate and make public the buyer to clear the museum’s reputation, if that would be the case, since our museum should be beyond reproach. What valuable paintings will be the next to hit the auction block? These outrageous deaccessions of valuable historic paintings that were literally taken off the museum walls and sent to the auction house, an action rationalized by the museum director’s lies to the public, and the huge amount of money made by the sale – that for us not to know who bought the paintings, or whether or not the sale was prearranged, is unacceptable. Is our collection being used as a catalog for future collectors? It’s a good way to hide backroom deals. It’s a good way for our museum to be robbed of its great artworks.
  1. Why has the radius of the museum’s community outreach and interest shrunk to only 2 miles, when the area that the museum serves is vastly larger? In 2014, the museum claimed that their reach was a 150-mile radius, when they increased the area of the Toledo Area Artists Exhibition to reach out to the major cities such as Detroit, Cleveland and Columbus. Before that, our community was defined by the 95-year old annual show as being 17 counties in Northwest Ohio and two counties in Southeast Michigan. The two-mile outreach defined now is not even 1/6th of the city of Toledo, not to mention the other many counties surrounding Toledo. Why isn’t the community equally represented on the Belonging Committee? In the museum’s latest manifesto about plans for community “belonging” there is nothing at all about the new local artists gallery that was heralded in The Blade in June 2021, for which Robert and Sue Savage donated $200,000 to renovate a gallery space that would have their name on it. A photo was taken with the mayor, director, and Robert and Sue Savage to memorialize the commitment.  The Robert and Sue Savage Gallery for Local Artists.  Are artists not a fundamental part of the art museum? Why aren’t local artists invited to “Belong?”   Museum Shows for Local Artists. 

In summary, there should be a special oversight looking over our museum right now. Our museum does not belong to outsiders, nor to just a fraction of the community, it belongs to ALL of us, the entire Toledo community. The people who run the museum ought to live here! That people who run the museum are “too good” to live here robs our city of culture, progress and money. Our museum is not a vehicle for outsiders to mold into something for their own personal benefits and gains. They are ripping us off! Conflicts of interest should be disclosed on every level, from the purchase to the sale of artworks, to the business relationships of the board members with the museum; from communications involving the museum and the press, to the curation of our community stories. There must be full disclosure for every move the museum makes. The people who run the museum have a fiduciary responsibility to our Toledo institution, and lying to the public is a breach of their fiduciary duty.

Thank you for your time. I hope you are having a good summer.

Sincerely,

Penny Gentieu

Categories
Artists of Toledo

Storytelling at the museums

the compassionate story

Brooklyn Museum



French Impressionist/early modern paintings in Brooklyn Museum’s collection (all of them):

Observation: Not one of the Impressionist paintings in the Brooklyn Museum was even close to being as good as the Cézanne, Matisse, and Renoir that were deaccessioned by The Toledo Museum of Art on May 17, 2022. And to think that museum director Adam Levine told museum supporters that Edward Drummond Libbey would want the Toledo’s Cézanne, Matisse, and Renoir large oil paintings to be deaccessioned, as if they were “mediocre.” 

Model of the Jan Martense Schenck house that was built in Mill Basin, circa 1675-6. The actual house is displayed on the 5th floor of the museum. Duke Riley’s trash art exhibition is incorporated into it.

Seeing myself in the Art. (Which isn’t too difficult, considering that my Dutch immigrant ancestors, Elbert Elbertsen Stoothoff and Aechtji Cornelis Cool, lived within a mile of this house, and had a house just like it back in the seventeenth century. And I don’t think they’d like seeing modern-day garbage art hanging in their old house and being blamed for it. Their son-in-law, Colonel Thomas Willett Jr. was the sheriff of Yorkshire (including Long Island, Westchester and Staten Island) in 1676.

Neue Galerie

Standing in front of the portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer by Gustav Klimt at the Neue Galerie.

Jewish Museum

Kandinsky and Vicuña at the Guggenheim

Impressionist paintings at the Guggenheim:

Observation: none of these paintings are as good as the three paintings by Cézanne, Matisse, and Renoir that were recently deaccessioned by The Toledo Museum of Art.

Cézanne and Matisse sold to the same buyer. Who was it? Was it prearranged?

Art on the street

Categories
Artists of Toledo

Questions for the Board of Directors of The Toledo Museum of Art

The Toledo Museum of Art has never sought to have multiple examples by the same artist,” Adam Levine told museum supporters as to why the museum deaccessioned three paintings by Cézanne, Matisse and Renoir in April 2022. Above are two examples of what the Museum has two of: two Rembrandts and two Van Goghs.*

Questions about the deaccession of our Cézanne, Matisse, and Renoir paintings from the museum’s collection

To rationalize the deaccession of the paintings by Cézanne, Matisse and Renoir, Adam Levine told museum supporters that the paintings were inferior, and that the museum never sought to have more than one example of any given artist. He said that the Libbeys would want them to rid the museum of these paintings because they were mediocre, quoting Edward Drummond Libbey himself: “Let the multitudinous array of the mediocre be relegated to the past and in its place be found the highest quality, the best examples and the recognition of only those thoughts which will stand for all time.”

Those were lies. The paintings were not mediocre, and Libbey’s quote was taken out of context. The museum has always intended to have multiple examples of certain important artists. The Toledo Museum of Art is a teaching museum. These paintings were a big part of a small but strong collection of French Impressionist art, historically significant as marking the beginning of modern art, and the Toledo Museum of Art and the people of Toledo were so lucky to have them. Seems like it was for the money, and an eager buyer who wanted to buy our famous French Impressionist paintings from our collection, that made our museum officers want to sell them.

Many people objected to the deaccession, including Pulitzer Prize winning art critic Christopher Knight of the Los Angeles Times who wrote this May 6, 2022 article: COMMENTARY: AN OHIO MUSEUM IS HOLDING THE BIGGEST SALE OF ARTWORK YET. IT’S UNCONSCIONABLE.

The Blade wrote three articles prior to the sale, including an April 25, 2022 editorial written by the editorial board, TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART SHOULD KEEP ITS TOP TIER.

I published on this website an Open Letter to the Toledo Museum of Art Trustees that I sent to board members by email.

The day before the sale, The Blade ran an article by Jason Webber, CONTROVERSY SURROUNDS TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART SALE OF THREE PAINTINGS. In the article, the Toledo Museum of Art’s 2019-2020 interim director, John Stanley, who is retired now, spoke for the museum, saying he thought the deaccession was a “brilliant idea,” saying something to the effect of, what do those people who object to it know about art anyway, and “this is the world we live in.”

Then the night of the auction, we find out that the Cézanne and the Matisse were sold to the same buyer for a total of $57 million. What are the odds?

If that is not weird enough, to top it off, we discover John Stanley’s connection to a Las Vegas casino regarding French Impressionist paintings, and the owner of the casino, who collects them. John Stanley was COO of the Institute of Fine Arts, Boston when the museum rented 21 Monet paintings to the Bellagio. The owner of the casino, Steve Wynn is well-known as a collector of French Impressionist paintings. (This Vanity Fair article, Steve Wynn, the Uncrowned King of Las Vegas, mentions his masterpieces by van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso and Renoir.)

Meanwhile, Adam Levine is going overboard to make up for his 2020 George Floyd memo mistake, in which he published a memo he wrote to his staff advising that the museum was remaining neutral. Now, two years later, it seems he still can’t do enough to make up for it, but is the Toledo community being played, perhaps as a convenient distraction?

So we have to ask…

Who bought the paintings the museum deaccessioned last month? Did the buyer have any contact with anyone working at or associated with the museum before the decision was made to deaccession them or before they were sold?

What were the “market realities” that made Adam Levine “pull the trigger,” as described in Christopher Knight’s May 6, 2022 L.A. Times article, Commentary: An Ohio museum is holding the biggest sale of artwork yet. It’s unconscionable.?

Why is John Stanley on the “Art Committee,” when he is not a curator, and his educational background is in business and finance and not in art? Who else is on the “Art Committee?” Isn’t John Stanley retired, as reported in The Blade’s September 8, 2021 article about his 1.5 million gift to the museum? Is he a paid consultant, and if so, what for? Does he live in Toledo or New York, or somewhere else?

Our famous French Impressionist paintings thrown out the door.

How did the museum decide to deaccession exactly those three paintings out of all the 30,000+ artworks that the museum has on display in our museum and in storage? Is selling artwork for the money an approved ethical reason to deaccession? How did all three deaccessions happen to be French Impressionist oil paintings exclusively? Was someone interested in the paintings before the museum put them up for sale?

Will the new museum officers be determining the one best painting of every artist that the museum has in its collection, and deaccession all others? Will it depend on outside interest of the possible sales of culled artworks? Will the museum curators be doing the same kind of collection culling with our collections of prints, drawings, photographs, books, sculptures, furniture, and ceramics?

Why did they decide to keep the late period big bronze figure sculpture of Renoir’s, but get rid of the late period Renoir painting of the nude white woman? Because they were so similar, or was it for some other reason?

Will the new Robert and Sue Savage Community Gallery be curated by outside curators? Will it be for serious professional local artists, or will it be for neighborhood outreach projects? Will it only be for people who live in the two-mile outreach radius that the museum is concentrating on, as outlined according to the museum’s strategic plan, Program 3 listed under Objective 1? (Toledo Museum of Art Strategic Plan, /OBJECTIVE 1: Transition to Active Community Outreach and Engagement –  “TMA will maintain a focus on the two-mile radius immediately around the Museum.” /Program 3: Engage Local Artists.)

The New York Philharmonic requires musicians to audition behind a curtain, so that the reviewers or judges don’t know the race or the sex of the performer; the musicians are chosen on their artistic merits. Can the museum share with us the results of the survey they made of the classifications and rating systems of the artwork in our collection? How do they determine the sexual orientation of the artist? Will they be requiring that information about local artists who want to show at the Robert and Sue Savage Community Gallery?

Are the new acquisitions going to be based on a quota system?

Will they be leveling up the museum’s collection of paintings to have an equal number of paintings by women artists, since the museum has been so male-centric, and if so, will the percentages match the population’s racial, poverty-level, and zip-code demographics of Toledo? Will they be buying, or selling, paintings to make it equitable?

According to Adam Levine in his April 8 letter to museum supporters, Important announcement from The Toledo Museum of Art, “We will use these proceeds to create a new acquisition endowment.” Does that mean they are creating a new acquisition endowment with the approximate $54 million they took from the paintings? For the two paintings that were originally purchased from the Edward Drummond Libbey Endowment, why isn’t the money being returned to the Edward Drummond Libbey Endowment until such time that it is used to by new art, as is required?  Did they talk to the family of Mrs. C. Lockhart McKelvy about the deaccession of her gift of the Renoir?

When the director says that they are going to draw less from the Libbey Endowment, does he mean that they are going to sell two of its most valuable paintings and create a whole new endowment, free of any of the restraints or ties to the past?

On January 17, 2022 this year, why couldn’t the museum figure out how to celebrate its own 110th anniversary on the same day that you opened the museum on a Monday for MLK Day?  If the leaders of the museum cannot feel comfortable honoring the museum’s own history while at the same time wanting to honor Black history, then shouldn’t we have better leaders? Shouldn’t the least we expect from Adam Levine or any director is that they show respect for The Toledo Museum of Art’s own history? And shouldn’t we also expect them at the very least to be good stewards of our best artwork and not to sell it off for the money, since it is a museum we are so lucky to have as Toledoans, and we want to keep our best artwork safe for future generations?

What percentage of the museum’s expenditures on new artwork in the past 10 years went to buy “diverse” artwork?

According to probate court records, the museum has been taking upwards of $500,000 out of the Libbey Endowments ($300,000 from Edward’s, and estimating that it is around $200,000 from Florence’s) over the past two years, granted for June 30, 2020 to June 30, 2022, on account of Covid, taking from the part of the endowment funds that are are meant to be used only to buy art. They filed and received a temporary variance on the Endowments’ rules, so they could use the money not to buy new art, but instead for expenses on “the direct care of art,” since the museum is somehow suffering financially. How is it that the museum is deserving of that variance to use the Endowments’ art acquisition money for expenses, when they have been hiring more employees, giving raises to employees, adding employee benefits, and sending employees off into the field to do things like to set up “art-making stations” in housing revitalization projects with developers? Why didn’t they want to buy diverse art with that money?

Considering that the museum didn’t use that variance money on art purchases as the museum expands “outside of its walls,” (indicating that the museum has plenty of money), but they got the money for “direct care” of the artwork in their collection, but instead of caring for the artwork, they sold the museum’s three great paintings out of a collection they are expected to care for, according to the fiduciary duty as the director and the officers of the museum, to set up a new endowment to buy new art, but why didn’t they buy new art with the $500,000 in the first place, without selling our three great paintings?

Don’t they care about how it appears that they could be buying museum board members’ votes, when there is a conflict of interest and ethical considerations regarding the museum doing business with board members? For example, buying insurance, accounting, managing investments, and other kinds of deals with various organizations, when the officers of the various organizations are directors on the board – how could the directors possibly vote no against any deaccession proposal, or anything that is recommended by the director, when financially, their businesses are so entangled with the museum? To be put in such a position, how are they are expected to be loyal to both interests at once, if one interest is the organization they work for, and the other interest is the public interest, say if they thought in their heart that the paintings should not be deaccessioned, but then they don’t want to rock the boat or interfere with the business relationships of their organizations doing business with the museum?

We should not tolerate the director and officers lying to us and selling our best art. They had a fiduciary duty first and foremost to care for these particularly important paintings that were a major part of our French Impressionist collection and our collection as a whole and keep them safe for future generations. That’s what museums do.


*Other artists of which there are two or more paintings in the Toledo Museum of Art collection include: Jean-Siméon Chardin (two bought at the same time in 2006 by esteemed curator emeritus Larry Nichols, a big deal was made by the museum about these two paintings being added to the collection), François Boucher, Thomas Couture, Charles Courtney Curran, Edgar Degas, Wilder M. Darling, Eugène Delacroix, Thornton Dial Jr., Gustave Doré, Thomas Doughty, Henri Fantin-Latour, Beverly Fishman, August Franzen, Gajin Fujita, Carl Frederick Gaertner, Luther Emerson van Gorder, Francesco Guardi, Childe Hassam, Martin Johnson Heade, Yoshida Hiroshi, Carl Robert Holty, Manuel Hughes, Roberto Humeres S., William Holman Hunt, Jozef Israëls, Karl N. Kahl, Gabriel Liston, Jacob Maris, Anton Mauve, Jean-Francois Millet, Joan Miró, Claude Monet, Edmund Henry Osthaus, Giovanni Paolo Panini, Camille Pissarro, Henry Ward Ranger, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Niklaus Rüegg, Sebastiano Ricci, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Frank Stella, Yves Tanguy, Anne Vallayer-Coster, Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun, Benjamin West, Alexander Helwig Wyant, Jacques Blanchard, Charles Loring Elliott, Thomas Gainsborough, Giovanni Paolo Panini, Gustave Courbet, Nicolas Poussin, Aert van der Neer, and Joos van Cleve. But now the museum only has one painting by Cézanne, and only one painting by Matisse, because they sold the other two for $57 million.

Categories
Artists of Toledo

Edward and Florence’s Wills

What reputable museum sells valuable paintings from their great French Impressionist collection to “broaden the narrative of art history?”

Selling off Paul Cezanne’s Clairière (The Glade); Henri Matisse’s Fleurs ou Fleurs devant un portrait; and Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Nu s’essuyant simply makes no sense. These and other proven lasting works draw people to the museum from near and far. EDITORIAL – TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART SHOULD KEEP ITS TOP TIER   The Blade, Editorial Board, April 25, 2022 

Diversity is achieved through addition, not through subtraction. Removal of the works from the collection does nothing for diversity. There are ethical guidelines in the field that concern reasons for deaccession and increasing diversity is not among them. One could say that it’s performative rather than substantive. It looks like you’re doing something, when the question remains are you really doing something by taking great works of art out of a collection. – Christopher Knight, Pulitzer prize winning art critic and author of COMMENTARY: AN OHIO MUSEUM IS HOLDING THE BIGGEST SALE OF ARTWORK YET. IT’S UNCONSCIONABLE (Los Angeles Times, May 6, 2022), as quoted in the The Blade, Jason Webber, May 16, 2022CONTROVERSY SURROUNDS TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART SALE OF THREE PAINTINGS

The Edward Drummond and Florence Scott Libbey President, Director and CEO of the Toledo Museum of Art, Adam Levine, portrayed the Matisse, Cézanne, and Renoir paintings as being mediocre, disingenuously invoking Edward Drummond Libbey’s approval in a Libbey quote, as if Libbey would approve of the deaccessions of these valuable, famous and popular paintings. Mr. Levine wrote this in his April 8 deaccession justification letter to members: 

As Edward Drummond Libbey put it in 1912: “Let the multitudinous array of the mediocre be relegated to the past and in its place be found the highest quality, the best examples and the recognition of only those thoughts which will stand for all time.”

Mr. Levine said that deaccessions, such as that of these three masterpiece paintings, are written “by design” in the wills of Edward Drummond and Florence Scott Libbey.

Twisting the intent of Edward and Florence’s wills, who by the way have paid for about 85% (just my BFA college-educated guess from looking at the museum’s online catalog) of all the art in the Toledo Museum of Art, as well as having paid for the building itself, their wills which stated that the proceeds of anything sold from the collection has to be spent on artwork only, is a basic ethical principle regarding the deaccessioning of artwork in any museum collection. But Adam Levine, 11th Director of the Toledo Museum of Art, made it seem as if Libbey intended for the art in the collection to be traded as if it was a stock portfolio! Indeed, Adam Levine told Christopher Knight in regard to selling the Cézanne, it was time to pull the trigger.

Adam Levine pulled the trigger on our famous Impressionist paintings and shot them out the door.
The rules in the wills

From the Edward Drummond Libbey Will:

All paintings, other pictures and works of art by me bequeathed said The Toledo Museum of Art, its successor and successors, by this my Will, or by any codicil thereto, and all paintings, pictures and other works of art by it or them acquired by expenditures from said income, shall at all times be properly and appropriately housed in one or more rooms of The Toledo Museum of Art in said City of Toledo, each of which rooms shall at all times be designated and plainly marked “The Edward Drummond Libbey Gallery”; each and every of said painting, other pictures and works of art shall at all times be plainly marked “Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey”, and shall be kept adequately insured against loss from fire, theft and other causes. Said The Toledo Museum of Art, its successor and successors, may temporarily loan for the purposes of public exhibition elsewhere any such painting or other picture or work of art, upon taking proper security for its safe return; and it and they may, from time to time and at its and their discretion, sell or exchange any painting or other picture or work of art purchased by expenditures from said income, and from the proceeds thereof may acquire some other or others.

From the Florence Scott Libbey Will:

One-half (1/2) thereof in the purchase of paintings, statuary, furniture and other works of art, each of which, when so acquired, shall have designated thereon, or near thereto, the following words: “Florence Scott Libbey Bequest in Memory of her Father, Maurice A. Scott”, and shall be permanently installed in one or more rooms of the building or buildings of said Museum of Art, each of which shall be designated and known as the “Maurice A. Scott Memorial Gallery” and the other one-half (1/2), thereof to be used and expended by said The Toledo Museum of Art, its successor and successors, for any of its corporate purposes. Any articles, so purchased, if deemed advisable or desirable, may be sold or exchanged, and the proceeds of every such sale used as income in the purchase of some other work of art.

Building the museum’s fine collection took many years, and much effort went into it. French Impressionism is popular and valuable work; it is very accessible; it is considered to be the starting point of modern art. The Matisse (purchased in 1935) and Cezanne (purchased in 1942) were purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey.

Adam Levine wrote in his April 8 letter to museum supporters:

The Toledo Museum of Art has never sought to have multiple examples by the same artist—fewer than 11% of the artists in our collection are represented by two or more paintings;  

We will use these proceeds to create a new acquisition endowment.

YIKES!

using the sales of the Cézanne, Matisse, and Renoir to create a new acquisition endowment!! But doesn’t the Libbey will specify that proceeds from any sale be used for art, right now, not to be used to create a new entity of a new endowment — the money is not even going back to the Libbey Endowment to be used on art soon enough? What about the Libbey name and attribution to the gift of the artwork that will be purchased? What about Mrs. McKelvy? What the heck! What’s the set-up cost going to be for this “new endowment” and how many hands are in that pot?

Gee Wiz!

If only Adam Levine had been fired on the spot after he came out with his crude George Floyd memo that stated how the staff should stay neutral. Instead, the museum trustees went along with his rationalization that there was something fundamentally wrong with our museum, as if it reflects bias and discrimination against the black community. Nothing could be further from the truth, except for the hiring of Adam Levine and keeping him on after he published his thoughtless memo.

A field day

The Toledo Black Artist Coalition had a field day.

November 18, 2020, five months before she was hired by the museum to be the first “Director of Belonging and Community Engagement,” Rhonda Sewell’s heart emoji on a Toledo Black Artist Coalition Facebook post, implying that the Toledo Museum of Art is elitist and racist. It is important to note that the painting by Philip Guston in this post does not have anything to do with the Toledo Museum of Art. 
“On Monday, January 17th the Toledo Museum of Art is open as a gathering place to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Come enjoy a full day of programs and exhibits that celebrate African-American artists and culture. Feel the united spirit of our diverse Toledo community.”

This year, the museum opened its doors on a Monday for the first time in 110 years to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It just happened to be the 110th anniversary of the day the museum opened the doors for the very first time, ever. But there was no mention of that at the museum. Mum was the word. I was there, and I asked several employees, including a trustee who was going around introducing herself, and none of them knew. The museum historian knew though — they called and asked her! Couldn’t the museum figure out how Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the 110th anniversary of the opening of the new museum could be celebrated together? How pathetic that they had to sell out the museum’s history in order to honor black history.

“Belonging and Community Engagement” Director Rhonda Sewell’s January 19, 2022 tweet – a selfie with one of her favorite pieces of art – the Renoir sculpture of a nude woman in bronze that was deemed to be so similar and so much better than the Renoir painting of the nude white woman, that the painting had to go.
The two so-called “similar” late-period Renoirs. A painting that is too similar to a sculpture! Guess which on the Toledo Museum of Art chose to keep. What is the museum telling us? Its value on the open market was merely 5% of the total of the three, and this painting was a valuable part of Mrs. McKelvy’s female-eye-curated collection bequest. Was it thrown in as a symbolic sacrifice, or as a distraction? Will details be revealed that make it even more sinister than we can imagine? Read on….
April 26, 2022: What will next year bring? A museum without its venerable French Impressionist collection. A divisive museum. If that is Rhonda Sewell’s idea of progress, then congratulations.
The “brand” of “belonging”

Is it good stewardship for the Director of The Toledo Museum of Art, Adam Levine, to add two new departments — “Branding” and “Belonging” – erasing and re-writing the museum for the black community (some would call it pandering), while at the same time dismantling the museum’s wonderful French Impressionism collection for $50+ million? Adam Levine has ridded us of a good third or more of our valuable, popular, historically significant French Impressionist paintings, calling it in the name of “diversity.” One thing is for sure, he is getting a lot of negative publicity.

And then there’s this.

To sell our Renoir, Matisse and Cézanne out from under our valuable public collection, into secret, private hands, only for us to find out that the two most expensive paintings were sold to the same buyer, sales that are shrouded by the convenient secrecy of a Sotheby’s auction, then to discover a casino connection to our former “interim” director, John Stanley… who strangely became the museum spokesman for The Blade’s article on May 16, 2022CONTROVERSY SURROUNDS TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART SALE OF THREE PAINTINGS saying that, basically, what do those people who object to the deaccessions know about art anyway, and “this is the world we live in….” It’s outrageous!

Hired to oversee the business aspects of the 2018 plans for the museum building renovation, then used as the interim director when Brian Kennedy suddenly left the museum one year before the end of his contract, John Stanley isn’t on the board of museum trustees, but for some reason, he is on the so-called “Art Committee” that recommended the deaccession (even though he has no degree in art – only in business and finance, and was hired by the museum to work on the new construction – so what does he know about art?) But when the going got tough with the public outcry against the auction, John Stanley was the spokesman the art museum put out front to deal with it.

And speaking for the museum on Facebook was the charming troll-like, aptly-named “Brandi Black.” She appeared on top of every Blade article about the deaccession, and also on my Toledo Now page, posting sarcastic ad hominem and name-calling attacks on everyone who dared to question the sales of the paintings. She used the face of Supreme Court Justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson. Not everyone would recognize the honorable judge’s friendly face. Judges are meant to be behind the scenes, after all. They are not celebrities. “Brandi Black” changed her Facebook moniker picture to Ketanji Brown Jackson (from a white cartoon face) on the day before Adam Levine announced the deaccession. Hmmm…. Did the museum actually hire her, or was she just volunteering? Only the Brand Director knows for sure. Either way, she certainly made the museum look bad!

How strange that Brandi Black’s May 18 comment on The Blade Facebook post for their article, CONTROVERSY SURROUNDS TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART SALE OF THREE PAINTINGS, mentions 12 Monets, John Stanley and the Museum of Fine Arts, and that Brandi Black personally watched the Sotheby’s auction — all at once!
What are the odds?

Check out this article about the rental of 21 Monet paintings to a Las Vegas casino by the Institute of Fine Arts, Boston, during the time that John Stanley was the COO of that museum.

A museum’s stellar Impressionist collection rented out to a casino!!

How interesting to find out that John Stanley was the COO at the Institute of Fine Arts, Boston when they rented out 21 French Impressionist Monet paintings from the museum’s stellar collection to a Las Vegas casino, the Bellagio, for a generous rental fee.

The owner of the Bellagio casino, Steve Wynn, is an avid collector of French Impressionist art; such articles are easy to find on Google.

Is it possible that the sale of our valuable French Impressionist paintings could have been prearranged?


The Libbeys lost a child – a baby boy – in 1895. After that, they poured their hearts into making a great, democratic art museum for all of the people of the city of Toledo – it’s our inheritance. It’s our museum.
It’s our museum!

The trustees are expected to be good stewards of our museum. The least they can do is to take care of our art and heritage and not sell it off. Our museum is not to be used as a catalog of artwork for sale. After this deaccession tragedy, shouldn’t we be seriously safeguarding our multiple Rembrandt and van Gogh oil paintings and other valuable paintings from being casualties of a future corrupt deaccessioning, now that we know that such a travesty is not only possible, but suspiciously probable, considering the circumstances surrounding the loss of our three valuable French Impressionist paintings this month?


P.S.

Why does the museum put flowers on the grave of the Libbeys, three times a year — on Easter Day, Memorial Day, and on November 13?

Because they have to – it’s in Florence Scott Libbey’s will. But I wonder, since Adam Levine and the museum trustees are making such swift and radical changes out from under the original intentions of the founders of our great, progressive museum  — calling our museum out for being somehow socially unjust, when our museum has been the most democratic and forward-thinking museum of them all, selling artwork gifted by the Libbeys to make a new acquisition endowment, just how long will the trustees be keeping those flowers going on that grave?

P.P.S.

And what have they done to the Ward M. Canaday Gallery? There are no exhibitions in it anymore — they’ve had a movie playing in it for the past eight months. Are they going to sell the name of the gallery (their 2018 renovation construction plan illustrations replace the space with a generic name, capitalized, “Center Gallery”) to a philanthropist for a period of time until death puts the patron cold in the grave, at which time the museum will rinse and repeat? Will the Frederic and Mary Wolfe Gallery be at risk, as well? Is this part of Mr. Levine’s big money-making, blood-sucking, self aggrandizing plan to make our museum the envy of every museum in America?

The Toledo Museum of Art used to be the envy of every museum in America before the trustees diminished its great children’s art classes that served the entire Toledo area school system. Over 2,000 children of all ethnicities, chosen by the schools’ principals with recommendations from teachers, choosing children for the program on the merit of the child’s apparent proclivity for artistic creativity, attended art classes every Saturday during the school year, for nearly the entire 20th century. The Libbeys’ wills actually mention more in regard to the importance of education than they speak of art.

Not to mention that the museum killed the 96-year old tradition of the annual Toledo Area Artists Exhibition and got rid of the exhibition’s purchase award collection at the Toledo Museum of Art, banishing it to a closet in a Toledo high school. Included in the collection are works by such diverse local artists as Marvin Vines and Robert Garcia. Maybe the Director of Belonging and Community Engagement ought to look into this closet collection and bring the Toledo Area Artists Exhibition back. The Canaday Gallery seems to be readily available.

All the museum has to do to make itself enviable again is look back on its own history of how it engaged the community – check down in that memory hole and pull it back up.

The bodies are still warm.


A timeline journal of articles and events surrounding the deaccession:

Toledo Museum of Art’s Controversial Unconscionable Tragic High-Profile Deaccessions

Categories
Artists of Toledo

Toledo Museum of Art’s Controversial Unconscionable Tragic High-Profile Deaccessions

“These works of art were clear choices for the Museum to deaccession, due to very similar and/or higher quality works by the same artists represented in TMA’s deep European collection,” a museum representative told Hyperallergic. Hyperallergic.com, Elaine Velie, April 27, 2022

Controversial Unconscionable Deaccessions
by the Toledo Museum of Art

a timeline journal of the unconscionable deaccessions of the French Impressionist paintings, including articles in national publications, Artists of Toledo blog posts, comments and emails 

April 23, 2022

This is the story of the deaccession of three very popular paintings at the Toledo Museum of Art, and Mrs. McKelvy’s legacy. “She had the courage to acquire only works of art she liked and always considered that one day her collection would be the heritage of all of us in this community,” Director Otto Wittmann said in 1964 of the gift to the museum of her valuable French Impressionism collection, which she put together with an educated feminine eye. She was more than a collector, she supported local artists who went on to influence the very fabric of our community. For example, the great artists and teachers, LeMaxie Glover and Diana Attie. But the museum is selling her Renoir, without even a nod to her importance to our community. Maybe because she’s a woman….

Goodbye Matisse Renoir and Cézanne

Subject: The great art heist of 2022
From: penny gentieu
Date: 04/23/2022 12:01PM
To: rdurant@tps.org

Dear Dr. Durant,

Good afternoon! I wrote a new page on the website, Artists of Toledo. I would love for you to read it. It’s about the sale of our masterpieces through the perspective of one of the donors, Mrs. McKelvy, and how she helped to support talented Toledoans. We know how the Board feels, please consider how the community feels.
I would love to hear back from you. Thank you for your time.
Sincerely,
Penny Gentieu

Subject: Re: The great art heist of 2022
From: rdurant@tps.org
Date: 04/23/2022 12:12PM

Hello Mrs. Gentieu,

We appreciate this great testament of Toledo art history. I am sharing this with the TMA Education Committee and our TPS Foundation.

Thank you for sharing,
TPS/ Toledo Proud!
Sent from my iPhone

Subject: Re: The great art heist of 2022
From:Adam Levine <ALevine@toledomuseum.org>
Date: 04/24/2022 10:06AM

Thanks for sharing Dr. Durant.
Penny, as you may recall from our meeting of more than a year ago, I have an open door.  I would have been delighted to discuss our decision-making with you, including the history of Mrs. McKelvy’s collection not included in your narrative, before you published this.
Have a wonderful weekend, all.
Best,
A

April 25, 2022

The Blade’s excellent editorial today about why the Toledo Museum of Art should keep its Cézanne, Matisse, and Renoir. Bravo, Blade!

Editorial – Toledo Museum of Art should keep its top tier

The Blade, Editorial Board, April 25, 2022 

Selling off Paul Cezanne’s Clairière (The Glade); Henri Matisse’s Fleurs ou Fleurs devant un portrait; and Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Nu s’essuyant simply makes no sense. These and other proven lasting works draw people to the museum from near and far.

Every museum director retains the right to pursue their own paths as Adam Levine is doing. Yet the museum is an integral part of Toledo’s art culture. The museum is not in a vacuum. While privately maintained, the museum does represent Toledo to the outside world.

Fund-raising campaigns are a constant in the art world and a campaign to raise funds to diversify the museum’s collection makes more sense than throwing storied works into the market to be lost forever to Toledo.

Building a better, more inclusive future for museums does not need to come at the expense of the top tier of its current collection.


April 27, 2022

Covering the director’s memo mistake. A new blog post on Artists of Toledo. Our brand new woke Toledo Museum of Art. Guess what? Your new branding is old.

Covering the director’s memo mistake


April 28, 2022

A very interesting article just published in Hyperallergic about the Toledo Museum of Art.

I remember that last year, Adam Levine was quoted as saying he wanted to better represent the population of our country, but now apparently he needs to reflect the entire world. “A collections audit indicated the greatest imbalances exist across gender, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, nationality and geography, and material/medium,” reads TMA’s press release. “The newest additions reflect the Museum’s commitment to adding artworks of the highest quality that reflect the diversity of world history.” As if they need to impose the power that they have to influence the public about what kind of art is relatable to who.

We should do what they did when this happened in Baltimore — people made them withdraw the artwork from the auction. See the link in this article.

The Toledo Museum of Art Is Deaccessioning Impressionist Works to Diversify Its Collection The Ohio museum is planning to auction off three paintings by Cézanne, Renoir, and Matisse with the goal of “broadening the narrative of art history.”

Hyperallergic.com, Elaine Velie, April 27, 2022


April 28, 2022

Baltimore Museum of Art uses COVID as cover to sell a Warhol. Floodgates open by art critic Christopher Knight published in the Los Angeles Times nine days before the Baltimore Museum pulled their paintings from the auction block. I have similar thoughts about our deaccession, that our director’s overzealous actions are covering director’s infamous George Floyd memo mistake and I wrote this last night: http://artistsoftoledo.com/…/covering-the-directors…/
But anyway, just one little interesting tidbit from Knight’s article:
“Deaccessioning concerns have been on the rise for many years. Alarmed, the American Alliance of Museums accepted a white paper on the subject last year.
The document is clear: Deciding whether to deaccession an object should be made ‘separate from the process of deciding how to use the proceeds.'”
Toledo Museum of Art decided what they were going to do, then they decided which paintings to deaccession….
Baltimore Museum uses COVID as a cover to sell a Warhol. Floodgates open

Los Angeles Times, Christopher Knight, October 19, 2020


April 29, 2022

The museum should save our famous French Impressionist paintings from the auction block.

Open Letter to the Toledo Museum of Art Trustees

Open letter to the Toledo Museum of Art Trustees


May 1, 2022

Our famous French Impressionist paintings thrown out the door.

They are getting rid of the good art and diminishing our museum.

Here’s a link to a blog page that lists many of their diverse and contemporary acquisitions in the past 10 or so years http://artistsoftoledo.com/…/covering-the-directors…/

I think most of the people running the museum are brand new. It’s like giving the keys to a Maserati to a kid with a learner’s permit. The museum doesn’t even have a curator who is a specialist of  Impressionism. And of course nobody except for the historian really understands the depth of the art education ties to the community that made this museum so special. Nor do they understand the importance of such patrons as Mrs. McKelvy, who meant for her collection (including the Renoir they are selling) to be for the community’s benefit. She gave scholarships to many, including three artists who became beloved teachers — Sister Jane Catherine Lauer, LeMaxie Glover, and Diana Attie. McKelvy’s father was the third president of the museum, and her son Charles was a museum trustee until he died in 1999.

They love their off-site programming so much, they could take these three masterpiece paintings and put them on an art mobile that they should acquire next, from one of the many endowments they have, and they could drive it through the various neighborhoods that they so desperately want to reach out to, perhaps with some music over the loud speaker, and they could give away free ice cream as an enticement to look at the art. And that will promote equality and inclusion. Just a thought. Ha ha. I’m kidding again. P.S. These paintings could very well be lost to some rich billionaire in Russia or China, and we’ll never see them again. Maybe that’s their plan. So sad. And that’s no joke.

Why don’t they just change the name to the Promedica Museum of Mediocre Art and get it over with. Just kidding.

We have two Rembrandts, should we decide which one is better and sell the other one? Same with van Gogh — we are very rich with our two van Goghs, should we let one van Gogh go and buy an object from 12th Century Southeast Asia instead, because it’s “art without bias?” Are we too Miro-rich? I counted over 50 works by Miro.

Who gets to vote? The Cezanne painting is amazing, and the two Matisse oil paintings are equally as beautiful, in my opinion. As for the Renoir, it is important to our collection because it is the only painting we have that is representative of his late period. The removal of this painting breaks apart Mrs. McKelvy’s female-eye-curated collection of art that she gave to our community, (interesting that the Matisse they are keeping is also from her). Mrs. McKelvy was a great patron of Toledo artists, which matters very much, and to break up her collection is to break up her memory. I wonder what Diana Attie thinks, our great drawing teacher who got her start with a scholarship from Mrs. McKelvy. McKelvy’s father was President of the museum, and her son was a trustee until he died in 1999. I think this heritage means quite a lot to us as a community.

These are all highly popular valuable paintings that we should not be getting rid of, for any reason. Toledo Museum of Art is one of the most richly endowed museums in the country. The museum buys new art all of the time. They should just make do! And they should stop with the attention-getting theatrics already!


May 7, 2022

Pulitzer Prize winning art critic Christopher Knight’s commentary in the Los Angeles Times on the deaccessioning of our Matisse, Renoir and Cézanne.

Commentary: An Ohio museum is holding the biggest sale of artwork yet.
It’s unconscionable

Los Angeles Times, Christopher Knight, May 6, 2022

I know those paintings. As a graduate student in the mid-1970s, I was a fellow at the TMA. Back then, it never occurred to me that the word “permanent” in the museum’s stellar permanent collection apparently meant 67 years, max.

The marvelous Cézanne, a nearly abstract spatial structure built from flat, planar brushstrokes of green, blue and ochre, even has an irrevocable bid. An unidentified buyer has a murky financial interest in the sale and, if outbid, gets compensation from the auction house for putting up the irrevocable bid in the first place.

Coincidentally, a pivotal 1993 Kerry James Marshall painting, “Beauty Examined,” hits the auction block two days after Toledo’s pictures, consigned to Sotheby’s …… Marshall, as a Black American, insists that the legacy of white European painting is as much his as anyone’s. “Beauty Examined” seamlessly — and analytically — melds elements drawn from sources as diverse as Rembrandt, Charles White, Paul Gauguin and Yoruba court art.

Levine asserted that a Cézanne sale had been discussed internally for years, and market realities made the difference in pulling the trigger now.

The for-profit market today leads much of the nonprofit museum world around by the nose. But the core museum mission is collecting, researching and preserving great art, and a conservative strategy of privatizing irreplaceable public assets in the name of liberal progress is backward. The Toledo sale is unconscionable.


May 9, 2022

While the Art Institute of Chicago puts on a major Cézanne exhibition, our museum treats our precious art by Cézanne, Matisse, and Renoir like a stock portfolio, where the market conditions are ripe, and Adam Levine tells us it’s time to “pull the trigger.” Really insensitive considering that so many Toledo children are being murdered with guns.

Time for a new director, from Toledo this time, who cares about art and the people, and not his own personal agenda.

Paul Cézanne, a Painter’s Painter: A major exhibition of the French master explores his role in the invention of modernism

Wall Street Journal, J.S. Marcus, May 9, 2022


May 16, 2022

Thank you Jason Webber for writing about the Toledo Museum of Art deaccession tragedy again, and thank you for interviewing me and including the link to my “Open letter to the Toledo Museum of Art Trustees.” They are running the museum like a big corporate business instead of like an art museum that should be putting the art first. “This is the world we live in,” said John Stanley. It’s money, money money – we sure DO understand how it is in the world we live in – don’t we ever!

Controversy surrounds Toledo Museum of Art sale of three paintings

The Blade, Jason Webber, May 16, 2022

Diversity is achieved through addition, not through subtraction,” Mr. [Christopher] Knight said. “Removal of the works from the collection does nothing for diversity. There are ethical guidelines in the field that concern reasons for deaccession and increasing diversity is not among them. “I am a huge supporter of diversifying collections, but this is just a quick fix. It’s a high-profile fix. One could say that it’s performative rather than substantive. It looks like you’re doing something, when the question remains are you really doing something by taking great works of art out of a collection.”

Toledo artist Penny Gentieu recently posted an open letter to the TMA trustees advising them not to go through with the planned sale. In the letter, Ms. Gentieu stated she believed current museum Director Adam Levine’s emphasis on diversity was a public relations move designed as damage control to stave off criticism when the museum refused to publicly take a stance on the 2020 death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. Ms. Gentieu said she has not received a response from TMA about the letter.

“The Toledo Museum of Art has always been inclusive and diverse and free for all walks of life,” Ms. Gentieu said in an email. “The director, Adam Levine, made a colossal mistake after the George Floyd murder, telling the staff that they are remaining neutral. To cover up for his mistake, he dove headfirst into rebranding the Museum to be inclusive with diversity. So now his big plan to attract attention to himself is to sell off three great world-class paintings from our permanent collection.”

Former TMA director John Stanley, who serves on the art committee of the Museum board of trustees, said he thought the deaccession was “a brilliant idea” when it was presented by current TMA director Adam Levine.

“What’s their understanding of how these three paintings, in particular, relate to other paintings or objects by those artists in our collection,” [John Stanley] said.

“This is the world we live in,” Mr. Stanley said.


May 17, 2022

John Stanley of the Toledo Museum of Art said, to paraphrase, what do those people who oppose the deaccession of the Renoir, Cézanne and Matisse paintings know about art?

Well Mr. Stanley, we know what we like! The Metropolitan Museum in New York has a bunch of oil paintings by Renoir, Cézanne and Matisse. But they are not as cool as the Toledo Museum of Art, who now only has one of each.

And Christopher Knight, mentioned in the article, is a Pulitzer Prize winning art critic who won his prize in 2020 for his excellent criticism of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Google his articles — he’s a great writer with a great mind!

I guess the next thing the Toledo Museum of Art will do is divest itself of all the extra Rembrandts, van Goghs, Miros (of which they have 50 pieces alone!) etc., to make MORE big money.

When John Stanley, who was only an interim director at TMA after Director Brian Kennedy skipped out of his contract and the museum had to go looking for a new director on the quick, which turned out to be Adam Levine, was at the Whitney, how many Edward Hopper and Jasper Johns paintings did he deaccession, since they have so many?

The Tate Museum has how many Turners? They have nine rooms of them!

Saying that the TMA needed to divest themselves of multiple artworks by the same artist is a bunch of hooey! I’d like to see that in their museum guidebook! It’s merely an excuse to make a boatload of money.

“This is the world we live in,” said Mr. Stanley. Not a convincing reason to sell off major artwork. I don’t think these paintings have any bias, either. These paintings are biased, really? They certainly have beauty. But biased? Au contraire!

I just wonder who has them now, since we will probably never see them again.

Mr. Stanley said of the deaccession, what do those people who oppose the sale know about how the painting relates to the sculpture in their collection? It was a brilliant idea! “This is the world we live in.” Did they throw in the Renoir late-period nude oil painting just for show, as a symbolic gesture – the sacrificial painting? A distraction?


May 18, 2022

Wonder how it turned out that the two most valuable paintings were bought by the same buyer? Who was it? And what did they have to do with the museum before the paintings were put up for auction? A fair question. It needs to be investigated, as a matter of public trust.

A Marie-Therese Painting by Picasso Achieves $67.5 million at Sotheby’s

Barron’s, Abby Schultz, May 18, 2022

The Toledo Museum of Art sold three works to fund future acquisitions that realized US$59.7 million, with fees. In addition to the Cézanne, which sold just above a high estimate range, the museum sold Henri Matisse’s Fleurs ou Fleurs devant un portrait, for US$15.3 million, with fees, after a more than seven-minute bidding battle, to the same bidder who purchased the Cézanne—a collector on the phone with Helena Newman, Sotheby’s worldwide head of impressionist and modern art. 

3 Toledo Museum of Art paintings sell for $51.2 million at auction

The Blade, Jason Webber, May 18, 2022


May 25, 2022

A museum’s stellar Impressionism collection rented out to a casino!!

Is it a “brilliant idea,” as TMA John Stanley was quoted in The Blade May 16 article, Controversy surrounds Toledo Museum of Art sale of three paintings regarding the sale of our Cézanne, Matisse and Renoir, for an art museum to rent out 21 French Impressionist paintings from their stellar collection to a casino in Las Vegas? Well yes, apparently John Stanley thought that was a “brilliant idea” as he arranged it as COO at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, in 2003. Wow. Artwork meant for the public used in a Las Vegas casino for a percentage of the admissions revenue.

Now we have the unconscionable sales of popular, valuable and famous paintings from our museum, with the Cézanne and Matisse paintings sold to the same buyer, shrouded by Sotheby’s secrecy, a broken chain of provenance, the public blindfolded as paintings are ripped from the permanent collection. Public trust flies out the window.

How do museum insiders really feel about it?


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