Kalamazoo College's Student Newspaper
By Emily Guzman Features Editor
The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts’ latest exhibition is proof that the art world is resisting our country’s overall economic downturn.
KIA’s “Legacy for Kalamazoo: Works Acquired Through the Elisabeth Claire Lahti Fund, 1998-2012,” will showcase the Fund’s 60-piece collection by prominent American and European artists in one exhibition. It includes both familiar and lesser-known paintings, sculptures, ceramics, prints, drawings and photographs.
Special labels will designate items purchased through the Fund already on display in other galleries, such as Andy Warhol’s painting of Gerald Ford and Tiffany glass vases. Museum visitors can expect to see works by Donald Sultan, Mary Cassatt, Christo, Jasper Johns, Walker Evans, Helen Frankenthaler and Jim Dine.
“The existence of this fund has been critical for the KIA, in that it enables the museum to purchase works in a timely fashion, either at auction or from a dealer, without engaging in the time-consuming process of securing a private funder for each individual work,” said Director of Collections and Exhibitions Vicki Wright in an email.
Because of market volatility in recent years, explained Wright, the Fund has not always been able to support the purchase of new pieces. But the art market has remained active despite fluctuations in the economy. Still, it has not been without struggles; art owners looking to liquidate their assets continue to take their works to auction, and some of these works do not sell for their maximum value.
The current trend in the nation’s art market suggests, however, that prices for famed artworks are soaring and breaking record prices despite the economic downturn at large. The KIA is one of many committed players in the art world staying active and expanding its collection.
The Fund was established in 1998 by an individual donor in honor of long-time Kalamazoo resident Elisabeth Claire Lahti. It is the only KIA fund devoted specifically to the acquisition of art and it is used exclusively for that purpose.
The Executive Director and collections staff members, in conjunction with an advisory committee, determine what works the Fund will support based on a variety of criteria including condition, quality and how a piece enhances the collection in relation to existing holdings, said Wright.
The exhibition runs from Sept. 29 through Jan. 20. It is free and open to the general public.