$52 Million Ruscha Sold Off Huntington's Walls
Ed Ruscha's Hurting the Word Radio #2, a 1964 painting on loan to the Huntington's Virginia Steele Scott Galleries from 2013 through this September, was auctioned yesterday at Christie's New York for $52 million, a record for the artist. The painting had been owned by Beverly Hills collectors Jack and Joan Quinn.
Ruscha's small series of "c-clamp" word paintings haven't gotten much critical attention. The early date, Ferus Gallery provenance, and rarity seem to have contributed to the high price. (Hurting the Word Radio #1 is in the Menil Collection.)
Announced the same day was the Huntington Library's acquisition of an Underground Railroad ledger book kept by Michigan abolitionist Zachariah Taylor Shugart (1805-1881). Such documentation is rare, as assisting runaway slaves was a Federal crime. Part of the Shugart family papers, the ledger was auctioned by Swann this past September. The Huntington also acquired an archive relating to slavery at the Dickinson & Shrewsbury saltworks in what is now West Virginia.
Let them eat cake.
As for the political angle of most (if not all) of the people wheeling and dealing in the world of high-ticket artworks? I imagine most of them see themselves as the perfect hip, trendy progressive. The ideal liberals both culturally and politically.