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An Artistic Investment

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In 1948, when a teacher and part-time art critic encouraged his employer, New Trier Township High School, to buy “Still Life with Flowers” by a then-relatively-unknown artist, it seemed like a good idea. The teacher, Frank Holland, planned to use it in class as a prime example of American modernism. Plus, it was going for just $62.50. Turns out Holland’s was a great idea: Christie’s auction house recently sold the school’s painting for $3.1 million to an anonymous bidder. The art classes at New Trier got a lot of use out of “Still Life” over the years, but, starting in the 1970s, it ended up in storage, then in a bank vault, and was finally loaned to the Art Institute of Chicago, after another art teacher recognized its importance. When New Trier originally acquired the piece, its creator, Stuart Davis, was labeled a “lefty” artist, so his work was easily dismissed. Today it’s highly sought-after. New Trier, however, has never been short on cash. Located in a tony Chicago suburb, the 105-year-old elite high school boasts notable alumni such as Donald Rumsfeld, Charlton Heston, and Ann-Margret. “It’s ironic that’s where the work of a communist painter was found and will enrich the budget of one of the wealthiest school districts in the country,” comments one art historian. It appears, at least, that most of the money will go toward enriching the school’s art department.

6 Comments

What about donating some of the money to a inner city school that gets little or no funding, maybe bumping up or creating an art department for a school that doesn't have one. I think it's absurd that they're just going to keep all that money for themselves when they already have so much. Why can't we learn to give more to those in need instead of being so greedy?

I completely agree with Katrina's comments - it would be a wonderful thing if that money got donated to a school that REALLY needed it! It is a shame that many of the students that attend New Trier do not appreciate what they have, and students that attend poorer, primarily inner-city high schools can do nothing but stand by and watch. Harper High School just redid their pool and computer lab, which had been in disrepair and misuse for 10 years, and that was with fundraising. Why can't New Trier donate their newfound (and unneeded) wealth to a school like Harper, and students who will truly appreciate it!

I disagree!
New Trier should and hopefully will do what they want with the money. What a great investment! I wish I would of thought of it for my district. As far as other schools less fortunate, the state should be held responsible for supplying adequate funding not a school district that is wiser about investments. Kudos to New Trier. I just hope the money goes to support the Fine Arts prgrams!

Just an FYI. It should read "I wish I would have thought of it for my district." It should be have not of.

As a student of Frank Holland's (New Trier class of 1965) I helped Mr. Holland clean his cluttered office. The Stuart Davis painting was in the closet along with an Ivan Albright self-portrait. Besides Mr. Holland, I doubt that anyone knew of the paintings' location. It was not on display, for certain, between 1961-1965.
In the 1980's, I saw the Albright in a show at the Art Institute.
If New Trier uses its windfall for the arts programs; wonderful. Unfortunately, it will more likely be used for the physical plant or to retire bonds.

New Tier used the $$ to build new locker rooms... a total waste, but, thats what they do...

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  • Ashley: New Tier used the $$ to build new locker rooms... read more
  • Alan Moss: As a student of Frank Holland's (New Trier class of read more
  • patsy: Just an FYI. It should read "I wish I would read more
  • Rebecca: I disagree! New Trier should and hopefully will do what read more
  • Danielle: I completely agree with Katrina's comments - it would be read more

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