Baltimore Museum of Art

10 Art Museum Drive, Baltimore, Maryland 21218-3898

About Auction House

Founded in 1914, The Baltimore Museum of Art is a major cultural destination recognized for engaging diverse audiences through dynamic exhibitions and innovative educational and community outreach programs. The BMA’s internationally renowned collection of 95,000 objects encompasses more than 1,000 works by Henri Matisse anchored by the famed Cone Collection of modern art, as well as one of the nation’s finest holdings of prints, drawings, and photographs. The galleries showcase an exceptional collection of art from Africa; important works by established and emerging contemporary artists; o...Read More
utstanding European and American paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts; ancient Antioch mosaics; and exquisite textiles from around the world.Read Less

Auction Previews & News

5 Results
  • Auction Result
    Around the Auction World: May 2021

    This time last year, the auction industry was at a standstill, hoping to wait out a pandemic. As it became clearer that those efforts were futile, the focus turned to bidding online, adapting to live streams, and building all-digital viewing rooms.  May 2021 offered a sneak peek at how the industry will benefit from this new digital infrastructure even after the pandemic. As vaccines become more plentiful in some parts of the world, auction houses have leveraged both in-person bidding and their online platforms this month. The same proved true for a series of major art fairs. Pablo Picasso, Femme assise près d’une fenêtre (Marie-Thérèse). Image from Anthony Devlin/PA Wire. More good news came from two of the auction industry's major players, Christie's and Sotheby's. Although their 20th-century and contemporary art sales this month were billed as direct competition, both auction houses emerged as winners. The results further signaled the strength at the top of the market.  From Basquiat to online bidding, Auction Daily looks back at the major headlines around the auction world in May 2021. Industry Trends Frieze New York 2021 was the first major art fair in New York City since the start of the pandemic. Its success proved art buyers still have a healthy appetite, a good omen both for art fairs and the auction industry. While much of the focus was on the in-person component of the fair, many galleries benefited from the online viewing rooms. As some collectors look forward to in-person bidding, Bidsquare launched its "Auctions Near Me" tool. The new feature makes it easier for collectors to plan out their bidding strategy online before picking up a paddle. Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988), Versus Medici. Image from Sotheby’s. Sotheby's New York welcomed back in-person bidders with a marathon of evening sales on May 12th. Featured lots included the auction debut of a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting, Versus Medici. The piece achieved USD 50.8 million, beating its pre-sale estimates and becoming one of the highest results for a Basquiat work. The same week, Christie's offered a portrait of Picasso's muse to an empty salesroom. In the…

  • Exhibitions
    Now Is the Time: Baltimore Museum of Art Exhibits New Works Acquired Through 2018 Deaccession

    This month, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) showcases pieces by underrepresented artists, funded by its 2018 deaccession of works by Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol. The exhibition, titled ‘Now Is the Time: Recent Acquisitions to the Contemporary Collection,’ began on May 2nd and will run through July 18th, 2021. In light of the current exhibition, Auction Daily explores the BMA’s history of deaccessioning. Exhibition View. Now Is the Time: Recent Acquisitions to the Contemporary Collection. Image from the Baltimore Museum of Art. What Is Deaccessioning? ‘Deaccessioning' refers to the process of permanently removing an object from a museum’s collection. For decades, deaccessioning has been a key component of museum governance. The practice, however, has recently been a source of controversy and debate.  Traditionally, the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) issues guidelines and rules about deaccessioning artworks. Still, many museums faced disputes in recent years after failing to justify their plans. Among the institutions that met criticism time and again is the Baltimore Museum of Art. Andy Warhol, The Last Supper (1986). Image from the Baltimore Museum of Art. The Failed Deaccession of 2020 In the fall of 2020, the Baltimore Museum of Art announced a plan to raise USD 65,000,000 by selling three important works by Andy Warhol, Clyfford Still, and Brice Marden. The previous April, AAMD decided to loosen its deaccessioning rules due to the economic strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The association announced that for two years, museums could deaccession as they saw fit.  The BMA was quick to take advantage. The museum announced the sale of three paintings as a part of its "Endowment for the Future" financial plan. These included Andy Warhol's The Last Supper, Clyfford Still's 1957-G, and Brice Marden's 3. The museum's director, Christopher Bedford, planned to utilize the funds to pay for salary increases and to diversify the museum’s collection.  The museum canceled the auction at the eleventh hour amid a maelstrom of both internal and external criticism. Defending the original plan to deaccession, Bedford said that "the most important thing a museum can nurture is in fact not its…

  • Auction Industry
    Representation, Leadership, and Art World Diversity

    The art world is not known for its diversity. Museums, galleries, and auction catalogs overwhelmingly feature white male artists. Boardrooms often lack equity as well. While art world diversity still lags behind, the industry is taking steps toward better representation.  One way to address this issue is to hire diversity specialists. Museums are increasingly recruiting Black and Latinx curators to address inequity. 2020 placed many museums under a critical lens, leading to modest changes in museum management. This could be a genuine attempt to improve art world diversity or an example of tokenism. Some newly-hired diversity officers point out the symbolic nature of their positions. “I’ve been doing this work for over 22 years, and I can honestly tell you that is literally always the question that I ask myself: ‘Is this performative or is this real?’” said Rosa Rodriguez-Williams in The New York Times.  Candice Anderson, Margaret Morton, Tom Finkelpearl, Miguel Luciano, James E. Bartlett, and Nicole Ivy discussing art world diversity in 2016. Photo by Margarita Corporan, courtesy of Cool Culture. Sandhya Jain-Patel, a diversity consultant and former head of Christie’s Indian, Himalayan, and Southeast Asian Art Department in New York, has spoken publicly about racial bias in the art world. “During my studies, while working, even now when interfacing with arts organizations, I am often the only person of color in the room,” she told Artnet. “I am not the first or only one to recognize this, nor the fact that women of any color rarely rise above a certain level in such organizations. And frankly, I’m over it.”  Business sectors in the art world typically face less scrutiny than museums. Some critics attribute this to the public-facing nature of cultural institutions. Many nonprofits receive public funds for their collections. In contrast, art fairs and auction houses exist squarely in the private sector. Artist and writer Debra Hand discussed these differences in Black Art In America: “[Art Basel] is an investment where the products on the shelves happen to reflect culture… The fact is, culture exists entirely on its own, even without the sale of art.” As…

  • Art Industry
    Baltimore Museum of Art Halts Deaccession of Artworks After Controversy

    The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has pushed several art institutions to financial discomfort.  As the pandemic threatens their very existence, some museums have decided to make noted artworks available for sale in an attempt to cover the large drop in revenue. The Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) created a brief window of opportunity for art institutions to deaccession works and protect their collections in early April of 2020. Following the relaxation of these deaccessioning standards, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) planned on putting several coveted works up for auction. Among them was Pop artist Andy Warhol’s 1986 canvas, which was slated for a private Sotheby’s sale on October 28th, 2020. The piece depicting Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper in black ink on a yellow background was offered with a $40 million estimate. Hours before the Warhol was to be sold, the BMA decided to halt the process. An emergency meeting called by the museum’s board of trustees raised fears that the “long-standing community of the BMA support is being irreparably harmed” in the wake of a deaccession controversy. Andy Warhol, The Last Supper (1986). Image courtesy of the Baltimore Museum of Art. The museum’s director, Christopher Bedford, was looking forward to generating a $65 million fund, of which $10 million would be used to add more works by underrepresented artists. $54.5 million would help create a new endowment for the direct care of the collections. In an interview with The Art Newspaper, former board chairman Stiles Colwill raised questions over the director’s actions. Colwill resigned with immediate effect following a disagreement with Bedford’s plan to sell the paintings. In 2014, he had pledged his estate, worth $20 million, to create funds for the museum. “Just over a year ago I quietly changed my estate plans when it became clear to me that under the leadership of Christopher Bedford the BMA was no longer trustworthy to receive this bequest,” he wrote in an email. The former director of the BMA, Arnold Lehman, questioned the ethical implications of the museum arranging a closed-door event to sell one of the most…

  • Exhibitions
    Baltimore Museum of Art Will Deaccession 3 Major Artworks to Support Ambitious Equity Plan

    The Last Supper (1986) by Andy Warhol will be deaccessioned by the BMA and offered by Sotheby’s through private sale. The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) announced Friday details of its Endowment for the Future, an ambitious financial plan that will dedicate funds for the care of the collection and allow the museum to expand its ongoing diversity and equity programmatic initiatives by enacting greater structural change within the institution and increasing access for the community. As part of the plan, the BMA will maintain and increase salaries for staff throughout the museum, establish dedicated funds for DEAI programs, eliminate admission fees for special exhibitions, begin offering evening hours, and enhance its acquisition budget. The specifics for the Endowment for the Future, detailed below, emerged during the BMA’s temporary COVID-related shutdown, in alignment with the ongoing calls for radical thinking and change across the arts and culture sector. The BMA has successfully avoided staff layoffs and furloughs during this challenging period, and the plan reflects the museum’s focus on the future and its ability to continue to fulfill its mission to serve as a truly civic-minded institution. The Endowment for the Future was developed in accordance with the resolutions recently passed by the Association of Art Museum Directors. Brice Marden’s “3” (1987-88) has an estimate from Sotheby’s of $10 million to $15 million. To establish initial funds for the Endowment for the Future, the BMA will deaccession three works in its collection: 3 (1987-88) by Brice Marden, 1957-G (1957) by Clyfford Still, and The Last Supper (1986) by Andy Warhol. The paintings for deaccession were selected following extensive evaluation by the curatorial team to ensure that the narratives essential to the understanding of art history could continue to be told with depth and richness. The BMA has a significant post-war and modern art collection with important examples of Abstract Expressionism, Post-Minimalism, and late works by Warhol thanks to the work of former chief curator Brenda Richardson. The selection was reviewed and approved by the museum’s Board of Trustees on October 1, 2020. The works will be sold by Sotheby’s this fall through public auction and private sale. Together, the three…