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Purchase of painting by Australian National Gallery

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The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in the Arts, Mr Tony Staley, said in response to reports that the Australian National Gallery was to purchase a painting by Georges Braque, that the Government had not approved

a purchase and that some reports of price and other matters were inaccurate. - -

He said that the Government and the Gallery were , establishing procedures which would ensure that there would be no repeat of the Blue Poles furore. He said that the Gallery was interested in the Braque painting

and had been successful in having the asking price substantially reduced. ·

The Minister said he would not ask the Government to consider approval of the purchase unless the price was reduced further and full documentation provided as to the quality of.the work.

The Minister said that he believed it was important to get politics out of art purchasing.

He saic that he personally did not believe that politicians should presume to make artistic judgements

about whether particular works should be purchased by the Gallery. Artistic judgements are matters for the Director and the Council. It is the role of the Government to establish the right structures and financial

arrangements, to select the right people to direct the affairs of the Gallery and then to let them get on with their important work within the limits of available finance.

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The Government has appointed a distinguished Council and a Director of world renown. The Secretary/Manager to

attairs of the

Council will soon be appointed. The Government has also aksed the Gallery to establish acquisition procedures which would ensure full financial and administrative


The Government has also asked the Gallery to produce a statement of acquisition policy to which the purchase of particular works would be related. This statement would be ready for presentation to Parliament in the next session

The Minister said that when the new arrangements had been finalised then he would ask the Government to consider freeing the Gallery to make its own artistic judgements provided it establishes that proper arrangements over price, administration and quality of the works have been made. ' /


22 June 1977