Arts & Culture
3:09 pm
Fri June 7, 2013

Detroit's Van Gogh better off in LA? Freep writer says that's crazy

In a recent piece in Bloomberg, Virginia Postrel (a political and cultural writer) argues that the "cause of art would be better served" if the DIA's major works were in other, 'more deserving' cities.

Her argument:

... great artworks shouldn’t be held hostage by a relatively unpopular museum in a declining region. The cause of art would be better served if they were sold to institutions in growing cities where museum attendance is more substantial and the visual arts are more appreciated than they’ve ever been in Detroit. Art lovers should stop equating the public good with the status quo.

Detroit's not going to take that lying down.

In an opinion piece in the city's largest paper, Nancy Kaffer of the Detroit Free Press calls the argument "as full of arrogance as it is full of crazy."

Now, I am not a self-proclaimed master of “intellectual arbitrage,” as Postrel describes herself, but this argument, frankly, is nutballs.

Postrel has quickly progressed from suggesting that should the DIA be forced to sell art, it might not be the worst thing ever, to seemingly articulating a theory that the DIA shouldn’t get to have any important artwork because Detroit is a provincial backwater.

If population is the only consideration that should determine where art is housed, Postrel should surely be leading the charge to pack up the collection at the Getty and ship it off to New York City. Or, realistically, Mexico City, or Calcutta, or Tokyo, or Kinshasa, or any one of the dozens of non-U.S. cities in which most humans live.