A Chicago Treasure Stays Where It Belongs

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When a painting that cost $10,000 in 1995 now is worth an estimated $10 million or more, what owner wouldn’t be tempted to sell? We’re talking about the delightful “Knowledge and Wonder,” by celebrated Bronzeville artist Kerry James Marshall. The fanciful work depicts African-American children and adults peering at books that reveal planets, shooting stars, planets, cells, a bright red cardinal in a scroll-like tree — and other worlds of knowledge that can be explored in books.

The painting hung inconspicuously on an upstairs wall of the Legler Branch of the Chicago Public Library in West Garfield Park for decades — until Marshall’s work started to command big bucks. So Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel put the painting up for auction and promised to use the money to expand Legler into a regional library. But that move angered art aficionados — and the artist himself.

"I am certain they could get more money if they sold the Picasso sculpture in Daley Plaza," he told ARTnews. Marshall also referred to a huge mural he painted on the west side of the Chicago Cultural Center: "Considering that only last year Mayor Emanuel and (city cultural commissioner Mark) Kelly dedicated another mural I designed downtown for which I was asked to accept one dollar, you could say the City of Big Shoulders has wrung every bit of value they could from the fruits of my labor.”

Chicago reverses course on planned auction of Kerry James Marshall painting »

Source : https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-edit-chicago-artwork-emanuel-marshall-20181105-story.html

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A Chicago treasure stays where it belongs
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