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Museums

Then & Now: "Modern art is destroying itself," warned our first issue

Museums have since devoted sizeable resources

The Art Newspaper

The very first issue of The Art Newspaper, published in October 1990, contained an article with the headline: “Collectors beware: Modern art is destroying itself”. It expressed the fears of those who had noticed pits and blotches on their paintings by Rothko (who was an early adopter of modern paints) or that their László Moholy Nagy oil paintings on plastic had begun to warp. Their concerns were heard. Museums tasked with caring for Modern and contemporary works have devoted sizeable resources in this area over the past three decades. The Getty in Los Angeles and the Tate in London, among others, are leading the way in research into modern paints, plastics and time-based media. The writer ended the article by asking if collectors will continue to buy “endangered” works. Judging by the astronomical prices paid for paintings by the Abstract Expressionists—a group that often used modern, untested materials—the answer appears to be a resounding yes.