Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Chagall vs David
There has been much in the news about the National Gallery and the proposed sale of a Marc Chagall painting in order to buy one by Jacques-Louis David. It seems all a tempest in a teapot since the David is going to stay in Quebec anyway. Looking at the two paintings from a purely personal point of view -"What would I want to hang on my wall?"- I would definitely pick the Chagall. I am not a huge Chagall fan but the colours are happier and I am less of a fan of biblical judgement-type paintings such as David's. It could be bit much looking as a skull everyday. However, the bigger question really is why the National Gallery felt they had a right to make a choice and sell off a masterpiece they already owned? As it is, by withdrawing it from auction, they now have to pay a withdrawal fee that is really high. Since the Chagall was either a donation or bought with taxpayer's funds in the first place, would it have been right to sell it? The fact that it has spent a lot of time in basement storage instead of display or loaned out to other Canadian galleries is a judgement call by the curator and should be neither here or there in regards to the selling. The painting sort of belongs to all of us. Now, paying the withdrawal fee means that there is even less money for future purchases. And, once again, all the real big-money action is on long-dead artists.