After eight years—and seemingly countless court hearings—art that Georgia O’Keeffe donated to Fisk University is now on display in Arkansas.
Crystal Bridges Museum paid $30 million dollars to share custody of the 101-piece Stieglitz Collection with Fisk. The deal helped shore up finances at the cash-strapped university. Tennessee’s Attorney General challenged the arrangement on the basis that Georgia O’Keefe had intended the art to serve as an educational tool.
Crystal Bridges is bankrolled by Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton and located near the retail chain’s headquarters in the Ozark mountains. In the audio tour for the museum’s first Stieglitz exhibit Walton seems to continue making the case for the deal:
“It just made sense to me that Fisk’s goal of serving a traditionally underserved community in Nashville and in the region matched very well with our goal of making art available in a very underserved region.”
The Crystal Bridges partnership was plan B for Fisk. Its first attempt involved the outright sale of the jazz-age painting “Radiator Building, Night, New York.” Ultimately, the collection remained intact, and that O’Keeffe painting is a centerpiece of the new exhibit.