Monday, 22 July 2013

Detroit Art Collection at risk? Bankruptcy in Motown can solve city's problems. Diego Rivera, Bouguereau, Audubon's Eagle and Thomas Hill's Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Detroit Institute of Arts

The shocking news that Detroit has filed for bankruptcy may affect the masterpieces in the Detroit Institute of Arts.  Works of art from the DIA may have to be sold to go towards the city's debt which is estimated at $19 billion. However Kevyn Orr, Detroit's emergency city manager, insists there will be no quick decisions on fate of the valuable collection. 

Detroit Industry by Diego Rivera 1932-1933

Detail of depressed-looking workers 
from the frescoes commissioned by Edsel Ford.
Detroit is also known as Motown.

The museum was founded in 1883 and designed by Paul Philippe Cret on a grand and elegant scale, with white marble inside and out. It is famed for Diego Rivera's frescoes Detroit Industry which celebrated the automobile industry: Rivera (1886–1957) considered it his finest work. 
Detail from one of the twenty-seven fresco panels
painted by Diego Rivera between 1932 and 1933.

The Nut Gatherers 1882 by William Adolphe Bouguereau
 is one of the most popular paintings in the DIA.

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone by Thomas Hill c. 1884
Detroit Institute of Arts 

There are over 65,000 works in the DIA including  a large collection from Africa, Egypt, South Pacific and the indigenous Americas. Old and modern masters range from Brueghel, Holbein, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Dürer and Rubens to Delacroix, Degas, Matisse, Monet, Cézanne, Gauguin, Rodin, Picasso, Franz Marc, Kokoschka, Chaim Soutine, Edvard Munch and Warhol. 
The Bird of Washington or Great American Sea Eagle
by John James Audubon, 1827

Detroit Institute of Arts 
Diggers by Vincent Van Gogh, 1889
Detroit Institute of Arts 

Detroit's population numbering 1.86 million in 1950 when the city was at the height of the automotive boom is now down to about 700,000 inhabitants. Crime and unemployment figures are at an all-time high. Detroit's city services are sadly lacking in many areas with insufficient refuse collections, police force and public transport: emergency response times are notoriously lengthy. .As many as 78,000 buildings have been abandoned causing a blot on the landscape; many of them are unsafe and need to be pulled down. 

Despite all the problems Sandy Baruah, the president of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, reckons the city's bankruptcy "is necessary to solve the long-term structural financial challenges of this historic city....addressing Detroit’s financial instability is the final barrier to robust growth.”