Crystal Bridges Brings Stieglitz Collection to NWA

The $30 million art-sharing agreement reached last year between Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and Fisk University culminated almost six years of legal wrangling.

Perhaps lost in the controversy was what the museum, university and art lovers stood to gain: access for the first time to some of the works; the financial resources needed to conserve the objects, some of them delicate works on paper; and, for Crystal Bridges visitors, views of European art.

The Alfred Stieglitz Collection goes on view at the Bentonville museum on Nov. 9, and Rod Bigelow, executive director of Crystal Bridges, told Whispers the collection allowed the museum for the first time to show European works. “There’s a Renoir and a Toulouse Lautrec and a Cezanne that are wonderful little gems that are works on paper,” he said. “They’re important in showing how European and American artists were connecting and developing their styles.”

The 101-work exhibit, The Artists’ Eye: Georgia O’Keeffe & the Alfred Stieglitz Collection, runs through Feb. 3. The collection will remain at Crystal Bridges for two years and then move back to Fisk, in Nashville.

Bigelow noted the museum was holding a symposium in January bringing together scholars in Stieglitz and modernism and “they’ll have a chance to study and see the works up close, some of them for the first time, because some of the access at Fisk was unfortunately somewhat limited. … Our institution is very much focused on access,” Bigelow said.

Some in the art world have suggested that the Detroit Institute of Arts take advantage of an art-sharing agreement similar to the Crystal Bridges-Fisk arrangement to discharge some of the city’s billions of dollars in debt.

Asked whether Crystal Bridges is seeking to acquire any of the Detroit Institute’s works of art, Bigelow delivered a flat “No. Just a flat no. You can ask me that every day of the week. We’re not part of that activity at all.”