WA’s Big Apple deal gets sliced

Published in artsHub:

The Art Gallery of Western Australia has been forced to abandon a six-exhibition deal with the Museum of Modern Art in New York half way through, due to spiralling costs and poor revenue.


WA's Big Apple deal gets sliced

August Sander, Young Girl in a German Caravan, from Van Gogh, Dalí and Beyond: The World Reimagined

AGWA Director Stefano Carboni has announced the arrangement will finish when Van Gogh, Dalí and Beyond: The World Reimagined closes today.

‘While support from the State Government, sponsors and the community has been significant, I am disappointed to announce that the MoMA series will finish at the end of this current exhibition because it is no longer financially viable.

‘This decision is based on a combination of increased insurance costs and reduced revenue from ticket sales, which although strong, islower than the levels forecast at the project’s outset,’ Carboni said in an open letter released by the Gallery.

Perth audiences have already enjoyed three exclusive MoMA exhibitions in photography (Picturing New York) , modernism (Picasso to Warhol) and the reinvention of still life, portraiture  and landscape (Van Gogh, Dali and Beyond). But they will miss out on exhibitions of contemporary art, design and post-impressionism which had been slotted for 2014 and 2015.

Carboni said while the partnership was ground-breaking in terms of both the quality of works and engagement by the Western Australian public. ‘The three exhibitions have elevated the AGWA brand and enticed many Western Australians through the Gallery’s doors for the first time – an achievement we are all very proud of.’

The six-exhibition deal brokered by Carboni, who came to AGWA from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2008, was regarded as an extraordinary coup for Perth, and the Gallery had hoped it would enable AGWA to compete with the blockbusters run in the major galleries in the Eastern States.

The three initial exhibitions did draw some tourists, with 20% of visitors from either interstate or overseas, but the numbers were not high enough to cover the costs of so many international exhibitions in a small-population state.

They also succeeded in drawing new audiences to the Gallery with 60% of visitors reporting they were either new or had not visited in more than three years.

Both Picasso to Warhol and Van Gogh, Dali and Beyond attracted more visitors than any other paid exhibition in Western Australia, since the gallery’s 2007 exhibitionEgyptian Antiquities from the Louvre. 

But with 230,000 visitors in the initial year and a half, revenues were still not high enough to meet costs.

‘Concluding the series early was an extremely difficult decision to make, but one we feel was best to take when considering the long term interests of the Gallery and the cultural life of the State,’ he wrote in his open letter.

‘The decision is based on a combination of increased insurance costs and reduced revenue from ticket sales, which although strong, is lower than the levels forecast at the project’s outset.’

Exclusive only to Perth and launched in June last year, the six-exhibition series was meant to give viewers privileged access to MoMA’s significant collection of works from iconic artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Pollock, and Warhol.

The series began with Picturing New York, which displayed a collection of photographs exploring the life of the city and its evolution over the years. The second exhibition,Picasso to Warhol: Fourteen Modern Masters, showcased over 120 works including Andy Warhol’s famous painting Campbell’s Soup Cans.  Van Gogh, Dali and Beyond: The World Reimagined included work by Cezanne, Kahlo and Klimt as well as the eponymous artists.

The cancelled exhibitions are:

Stranger than Fiction: Art of our time, which was to run from 1 Feb 2014 to 5 May 2014

Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen, 14 Jun 2014 to 15 Sept 2014

Masterpieces of Post Impressionism, 25 Oct 2014 to 23 Mar 2015

Ticket-holders will be contacted by Ticketek or can visit the Gallery Box Office for refunds.


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