Pollock painting proceeds helping Everson Museum of Art diversify its collection

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The Everson Museum of Art is already moving to diversity its collection after auctioning one of its Jackson Pollock paintings last month.

The museum netted $12 million from the Christie’s Auction House sale in early October.

“Red Composition” Painting by Jackson Pollock

Bidding for “Red Composition”, a 1946 painting by the abstract expressionist, reportedly opened at $9 million before closing at $12 million.

There was a $1 million premium charged by the auction house for administrative expenses, for a total of $13 million. The buyer was not identified.

“I think there was a sigh of relief at the end, that it went a lot quicker than we thought it would,” says Elizabeth Dunbar, Director and CEO of the Everson Museum.

She says the proceeds can only be used for two things, to acquire new works and for the direct care of the collection.

Dunbar tells NewsChannel 9 the museum plans to create a fund with the Pollock proceeds. “So this is an investment in the future and in the museum’s ability to continually acquire new work for the collection and care for it into perpetuity.”

The focus of the museum right now is to add to its collection pieces from artists of color, women, and other marginalized groups not represented there now.

The museum wanted its first round of acquisitions to be special and chose pieces from two local artists.

They include an African mask from Syracuse University Professor Sharif Bey, also nationally known, as well as the quilts of Ellen Blalock of Syracuse. Her quilts tell African American history and culture.

Artwork by Sharif Bey
Artwork by Ellen Blalock

The Everson has also acquired works from nationally-known artist Dawn Boyd Williams, and they plan to continue a mix of local and national artists.

Dunbar adds, “We’ve said before that museums are not neutral, or at least we don’t think museums should be neutral, that we need to be on the right side of history and we need to be inclusive of all the voices of our community.”

She says the museum doesn’t plan to start using the Pollock proceeds until next year after they’ve been able to accrue interest.


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