Judge Strikes Down State’s Plan to Take Georgia O’Keeffe Collection Away from Fisk University


Another twist in the ongoing battle at Fisk University over its wanting to sell off its collection of Georgia O’Keeffe paintings. Earlier this week, we reported on the surprise request by Tennessee’s Attorney General that the collection be moved from Fisk and into the custody of the state, who might be better able to care for it, at least until the university had its financial situation in better order. That concept hasn’t lasted long at all, as now the same judge who struck down Fisk’s idea back in August of selling a shared stake in the collection has struck down the Attorney General. The Tennessean reports that Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle said that the state ‘had not come up with a ‘long-term solution to keep the collection in Nashville full-time’,” which was the reason she’d shut down Fisk’s plan to share the paintings with the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas a few weeks back. The night before the judge’s decision, groups of students gathered in front of the gallery where the O’Keeffes are held to protest against the Attorney General’s idea, with the Tennessean getting quotes like “We will save our art. This art was given to us, and now they’re trying to take it away from us,” clearly missing or ignoring the irony that if Fisk had their way, they’d be selling the collection in a heartbeat to help pay off their heavy load of debt. The university now has until early October when they’ll present a new plan to the judge. Will be interesting to see how it continues to pan out.