Occasional correspondent Bill Marvel, who defends the high holiness of art, sent me the following headline this morning, "DIA's art collection could face sell-off to satisfy Detroit's creditors," along with a personal note: "I know this will warm your heart."
The DIA is the Detroit Institute of Art, their big museum up there. I'm from Detroit. Bill thinks I'm wicked because I didn't take the side of the Nasher Sculpture Center here in Dallas when it said a nearby condo tower was burning up its artwork with light reflected off its windows. My own headline was, "Ain't No Call fer Us to Pick a Side in Them Rich Folks' Museum Feudin'," which ought to give you the flavor.
Are we caught up here? Oh, no: Detroit is bankrupt. It owes billions and billions. Somebody up there floated the idea of selling off artwork in the DIA, which is worth billions and billions, to pay off the debt.
Predictably, billions and billions of Bill Marvels leaped to the fore to denounce the very idea, the very idea! I picture Marlon Brando with snakes on his face in Apocalypse Now, muttering, "The horror, the horror!" Oh yes, heaven forefend that anyone should think of art as money, in spite of the fact that its principal and most important role in modern culture is to serve as a form of currency.
And this thought occurs: You know who might not think it was so totally terrible to force Detroit to sell off some of its paintin's? The guy whose electrical supply warehouse or storm sewer repair contracting shop is in the toilet because he did a bunch of work for Detroit and didn't get paid. He's sitting around right now with snakes on his face muttering, "The money, the money!"More »