Donors warn of art chill

Toronto fam­ily con­fi­dent Lei­bovitz pho­tos will be dis­played in Nova Sco­tia gallery

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ATLANTIC - BY BRETT BUNDALE

A wealthy Toronto fam­ily that do­nated a multi-mil­lion-dol­lar col­lec­tion of An­nie Lei­bovitz pho­to­graphs to a small Hal­i­fax art gallery is con­fi­dent the works will even­tu­ally be dis­played, but warns that a fed­eral board’s re­fusal to rec­og­nize the art’s cul­tural value could harm Cana­dian gal­leries and mu­se­ums.

The Mintz fam­ily said it is “in­cred­i­bly dis­ap­pointed” the Cana­dian Cul­tural Prop­erty Ex­port Re­view Board de­cided not to grant the bulk of the col­lec­tion do­nated to the Art Gallery of Nova Sco­tia a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance, which comes with im­por­tant tax breaks for donors.

“We don’t be­lieve that a bu­reau­cratic panel in Ot­tawa should be re­ject­ing what the mu­se­ums them­selves ac­knowl­edge as im­por­tant gifts,” Bon­nie Jack­son, a spokes­woman for the fam­ily, said in an emailed state­ment Fri­day.

“In Canada, a pro­gram of in­cen­tives en­sures that pub­lic gal­leries can ac­quire great col­lec­tions. With­out it, our mu­se­ums would suf­fer.”

The Mintz fam­ily do­nated more than 2,000 pho­tos by the famed Amer­i­can por­trait artist to the Hal­i­fax gallery four years ago.

The col­lec­tion in­cludes the Rolling Stone cover of Yoko Ono and John Len­non, a naked and preg­nant Demi Moore, a brood­ing im­age of the Queen, Whoopi Gold­berg bathing in milk and im­ages of the Blues Broth­ers.

The gallery has sub­mit­ted four ap­pli­ca­tions to the fed­eral re­view board for cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

“We are sur­prised that, once again, (the board) has re­fused to rec­og­nize An­nie Lei­bovitz’s hand-picked col­lec­tion as be­ing of out­stand­ing sig­nif­i­cance and na­tional im­por­tance,” Jack­son said. “The ra­tio­nale be­hind their de­ci­sion, or how they came to this con­clu­sion at all, is some­thing we do not un­der­stand and do not wish to spec­u­late on.”

Still, Jack­son said the Mintz fam­ily does not see this as the end of the road, and is con­fi­dent a so­lu­tion will be found so that one day the col­lec­tion can be “proudly show­cased.”

The art gallery said that although it owns all the pieces, Lei­bovitz main­tains the copy­right and it’s up to her whether they can be shown pub­licly.

The pho­tog­ra­pher has not yet spo­ken pub­licly on the mat­ter.

Toronto art lawyer Aaron Mil­rad has echoed the fam­ily’s con­cerns about the board’s re­peated re­fusal to cer­tify the Lei­bovitz works, not­ing that it could send a chill over the art world.

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