Harry Philbrick, Edna S. Tuttleman Director of the Museum of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), today announced that the 208-year-old institution will create a new endowment for the purchase of artworks, greatly increasing an aspect of the acquisitions program that has long been critical to building the renowned collection of PAFA’s Museum. The deaccession and sale of one of the Museum’s paintings by Edward Hopper, East Wind over Weehawken (1934), will provide funds for the endowment, which will be used both to acquire contemporary artworks and to fill gaps in the collection of historic art.
East Wind over Weehawken (1934, 34 1/8 x 50 3/16 inches) will be auctioned in December 2013 at Christie’s New York, with a pre-sale estimate of $22–28 million. PAFA purchased the painting in 1952 from the artist’s dealer, Frank K. M. Rehn. In keeping with PAFA’s collections policy and standard practice in the museum field, all proceeds from the sale will go into the new acquisitions endowment, quintupling the funds generated annually for the purchase of art.
The 1934 work, East Wind Over Weehawken, is a characteristically bleak streetscape, this one in North Jersey, of angular Victorian houses, tilted telephone and light poles, and almost insignificant figures; a prominent sign stands in the foreground, “For Sale” scrawled in vivid red across its face.
Now it’s selling a major Hopper, a decision Philbrick called “difficult” but necessary to pursue what officials contend is a core museum mission – “to be actively engaged in buying the art of our time.”
The Hopper was chosen for a few simple reasons, Philbrick said. First, Hopper prices are rising fast in the marketplace. Also, the academy acquired the painting with its own money; no donor restrictions govern its disposition.