The Whitney to Deaccession a Valuable Edward Hopper Painting

The Whitney Museum of American Art Decided to Deaccession Seven of Their Valuable Possessions, Including Edward Hopper Painting.

Apr 21, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
The Whitney Museum
the Whitney Museum of American Art


The Whitney decided to deaccession seven works from their collection, including a $10 million Edward Hopper painting. The whole process will take place at at Sotheby’s, following month. Overall, the reason for removing the artworks is a need to acquire money for new acquisitions. Edward Hopper painting will appear at Sotheby’s Modern Evening sale (19th May) with an estimate of $8 million–$12 million.


The Whitney to Deaccession Works in Order to Acquire New Ones

The Whitney, Edward Hopper
Edward Hopper, Cobb’s Barns, South Truro (1930–1933). Courtesy of the Whitney Museum of American Art.


The museum offers seven works, and Hopper’s “Cobb’s Barns, South Truro” (1930–1933) painting highlights these valuable artworks. A representative of the Whitney spoke about removing the paintings: “The decision to sell the artworks came after an in-depth multi-year study of [the museum’s] collection”. Money earned from the sale, the museum will use to acquire new works of art.


But, this is not the only Hopper artwork that is up for and auction. There also three more Hopper watercolors. Also, two John Marin artwork and  Maurice Prendergast painting. The auction of those pieces will take place on the 17th of May. Estimates range from $70,000 to $700,000. But why those pieces?  The information lies within the museum’s statement.


Edward Hopper
Edward Hopper Photo: Oscar White/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images


“The works were carefully reviewed and selected by Whitney Museum stakeholders as part of this scholarly examination of the institution’s collections. It was determined that the works were duplicative within the collection. The Whitney looks forward to continuing to build and expand its collection”, the statement said.

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Deaccessioning is Needed for the Collection’s Growth

hopper summer interior painting
Summer Interior by Edward Hopper, 1909, via Whitney Museum of American Art, New York


The Whitney Museum is experimenting with deaccessioning, the institution’s persistent nemesis. The old guard of the art industry often reacts with resentment and venom when there are sell-offs. But for many others, it became a normal aspect of life’s development. Jane Panetta, curator and director of the collection at the Whitney said the goal is to grow the collection.


Panetta also saw deaccession as consistent with Whitney’s guiding ideas as well. The museum works on celebrating new American artists. The change in the collection means the museum acknowledges the development of the American art world, as well as the differences that exist from the previous period. This must lead to the development of the collection.


nighthawks edward hopper
“Nightwalks”, 14 January 1942, by Edward Hopper via Wikimedia Commons


Last year, the Association of Art Museum Directors formalized the rule, making it permanently possible for museums to use money from deaccessioned works of art. This is all for the “direct care” of the artifacts kept in a museum. On the task force that wrote the policy: Bedford, along with Glenn Lowry, director of the Museum of Modern Art.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.