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Art blogs launch 'A Day for Detroit'

August 14, 2013|By Christopher Knight, Times art critic
  • A gallery at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
A gallery at the Detroit Institute of Arts. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

Auction house appraisers have been summoned to Detroit, which is seeking bankruptcy protection, for the gruesome purpose of assessing the market value of the sprawling city-owned art collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts. The museum could sell paintings and sculptures to help pay civic debts.

Although emergency manager Kevyn Orr has said no such plan has been decided yet, a Detroit metropolitan county on Tuesday threatened to stop distributing property tax revenue to the museum if any of the collection is sold.

Adding to the implacable response, nearly 20 art blogs and websites across the country and abroad banded together Wednesday for “A Day for Detroit.”

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The premise is simple and elegant: Use the Internet to a) spread the word to a diverse, international art audience about what could be lost if any sale goes forward; b) suggest that readers expand the process by posting their own links and images to social media sites such as Twitter and Instagram; and c) generate support for the Detroit Institute of Arts by asking readers to click through and buy a museum membership (an individual membership starts at $65).

All day long, roughly every hour, many sites plan to post a new image from the museum's staggering art collection, which is among the half-dozen best in the United States.

The selections won't just be from the handful of familiar and acknowledged masterpieces, such as Diego Rivera's incomparable “Industry” mural or the two great portraits -- one of his postman and one of himself -- by Vincent van Gogh, that tend to be repeated when news stories about the museum's dilemma are written.

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There's also Jan van Eyck's “Saint Jerome in His Study,” circa 1435 (Modern Art Notes from Washington); the tin-glazed earthenware Medici-Orsini Vase, circa 1470 (Italy's Secret Places from Florence); Martin Lewis' dry-point print of toiling workers, “The Arc Welders at Night,” 1937 (Bad at Sports from Chicago), and on and on.

Here's a list of sites that have signed on to the project:

Twitter: @KnightLAT.

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