The Easel

Art in conversation

De Montebello presents the optimists’ case for museums. They are “vessels of culture” that facilitate “conversations that we have with works of art”. Reasonable people can disagree. Robert Hughes, for example, mourned the impact of money on museums. An expensive painting is “imposed on us as an authoritative object … and withdrawn as a communicative one. [Art and treasure] have fused to a disconcerting degree.”