It’s a renter’s (art) market

The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art is leasing famous works for its upcoming exhibition

Beach/bath towel” by Yoshitomo Nara. Works by Nara on display at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art for Figuratively Speaking: A Survey of the Human Form opening through March 27, 2011.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston caused a tizzy of grand proportions six years ago when it leased 21 of its Monets to the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art for an undisclosed price. The art world shrieked with fists of rage while Boston museum director Malcolm Rogers asserted that partnering with a for-profit has its perks: extra money in the public coffers and promotional benefits.

Five years later the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego leased 17 contemporary works to the Bellagio gallery, giving Las Vegas a look at works by Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella, Sol Lewitt, Andy Warhol and others.

Call it a financial boost for public institutions or an ethical slap in the face. Either way, Las Vegas, one of few cities in the United States without a public art institution, is reaping museum-quality works.


Figuratively Speaking: A Survey of the Human Form
May 1 through January 9
Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, 693-7871.
Sunday through Tuesday and Thursday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is $15, $12 for Nevada residents and seniors 65 and older, $10 for students, teachers and military. Children 12 and younger are free.

Now in a one-two punch both institutions are shipping off their works to the Bellagio gallery for Figuratively Speaking: A Survey of the Human Form opening May 1.

The work spans from the 19th century to present day. Artists include Pierre-August Renoir, Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney, Judith Shea and Yoshitomo Nara. Word has it that there will also be a Cindy Sherman coming in from the San Diego museum.

Additionally, the MGM MIRAGE is throwing in pieces from its own collection, including works by Renoir, Picasso, Edgar Degas and Fernand Leger.

We'd call Rogers to get another comment on the partnership, but we'd rather just go with the one he gave us six years ago:

"I think people are extraordinarily priggish and narrow-minded if they don't understand this."

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Kristen Peterson

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