Art isn’t easy, especially when the hallmark for assessing its merit is not its adherence to classical aesthetic principles but the color and/or sex of the artist.
Those are the guidelines being followed by the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA), which is auctioning off artwork by Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg. and other twentieth-century luminaries in order to make more room for creations by minorities and women.
Museum Director Christopher Bedford explains that the goal is to better reflect the demographics of a city that is 63% black. In so doing, he is following the “theory of art” established by aesthetician Michelle Obama, who in 2015 dedicated the opening of a downtown branch of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York with the observation:
You see, there are so many kids in this country who look at places like museums and concert halls and other cultural centers and they think to themselves, well, that’s not a place for me, for someone who looks like me, for someone who comes from my neighborhood. In fact, I guarantee you that right now, there are kids living less than a mile from here who would never in a million years dream that they would be welcome in this museum.
In other words, art, like everything else in the liberal worldview, should operate according to a quota system — everything, that is, except for professional basketball and football, which are meritocracies that heavily favor black athletes.
Bedford calls the decision to divest the museum’s collection of what Artnet terms “blue-chip art” to buy work by underrepresented artists “transformative.” That sounds like an apt word choice considering he is transforming one of the nation’s most respected art museums to a proving ground for, in some cases, refrigerator art.
The seven paintings that are slated for the auction block are expected to net the museum a cool $12 million. With that amount, Bedford can buy up replacement art by the truckload.