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Albright-Knox to Sell Works, Buy Others

November 10, 2006

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) _ The Albright-Knox Art Gallery will sell about 200 older pieces with the goal of raising $15 million to acquire modern and contemporary works that better fit in with the gallery’s collection.

Among the pieces to be sold is a prized bronze figure _ Artemis and the Stag _ from around the first century B.C. or first century A.D. that is expected to sell for as much as $7 million, the galley said Friday.

The works will be auctioned at Sotheby’s in New York City beginning in March.

By selling off antiquities and other historic works, the gallery hopes to enhance its collection of contemporary art, targeting works by emerging and mid-career artists and those that fill gaps in the 20th century collection, Albright-Knox Director Louis Grachos said.

``No collection of contemporary art can remain great without ongoing acquisitions of significant works,″ Grachos said. ``The steps we take today will allow us to pursue this course more aggressively and with great focus.″

In parting with valuable older pieces, the 144-year-old gallery has found a way to increase its acquisitions endowment at a time of limited state and local resources. The museum also has been challenged by Buffalo’s struggling economy and small philanthropic community.

The plan was approved unanimously by the gallery’s board of directors, which then approved the list of works to be sold based on advice from staff and outside experts. The list includes Classical, Roman, Egyptian, Indian, Southeast Asian and Chinese antiquities, as well as African, Pre-Columbian and European works of art and Old Master paintings.

In their place will come works more in line with Jackson Pollock’s 1952 ``Convergence″ and Andy Warhol’s 1962 ``100 Cans,″ both of which the Albright-Knox acquired soon after their execution.

First up on the auction block will be Chinese and Indian antiquities, including a rare bronze Chinese wine vessel and cover from the late Shang Dynasty during the 13th-11th centuries B.C. It is expected to sell for $2 million to $3 million.

A life-size sculpture of the Ascetic God Shiva dating to the 10th or 11th century is expected to bring another $3 million.

``This work is without question the most important Indian sculpture ever to appear on the market,″ said Anu Ghosh-Mazumdar, a specialist in Sotheby’s Indian and Southeast Asian Art Department.

``Three other examples of this deity belonging to the same period presently reside in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Detroit Institute of Arts, but the present work is arguably the best example of its kind.″

African, Oceanic, Pre-Columbian and American Indian Art, as well as Old Master paintings and European art, will be offered in May. Antiquities, including the Artemis bronze, will be auctioned in June.


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