The National Gallery of Art is set to lose a legend of a director in the relatively near future, one who has set the tone for the rest of the industrialized world (no kidding) with respect to the current state of the world of art.
As the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board noted recently,
Under [Earl] Powell the National Gallery has taken a refreshingly adult approach to the vexed question of contemporary art, hewing to the traditional approach that works must pass the test of time before entering a museum, rather than chasing fads and fashions. Last year it acquired a soap-and-chocolate sculpture by Janine Antoni, nearly a quarter century after it had caused a sensation at the 1993 Whitney Biennial. Above all under Mr. Powell, the Gallery has remained a determinedly art-for-art’s-sake institution at a time when museums have been increasingly positioning themselves as political actors.
As the politicization of art (not to mention everything else) has inflamed the art world, The National Gallery of Art has done an outstanding job of seeking to withstand the unfortunate and oftentimes raging current.
Let us hope the new director is as stable and as farsighted.