It’s the controversy that just won’t go away, no matter how much the National Gallery of Canada and its director, Marc Mayer, might wish it would.
Reporters attending a news conference about a photo exhibit Wednesday were instructed by gallery staff not to ask questions about the gallery’s aborted attempt to unload a Marc Chagall masterpiece and acquire another painting by Jacques-Louis David, but the questions came nevertheless.
It was Mayer’s first public appearance since last Thursday, when the gallery’s board of trustees reversed its decision to auction off Chagall’s La Tour Eiffel at Christie’s later this month, following three weeks of public outcry.
Nothing to add
In an open letter on April 16 Mayer vigorously defended the decision, and vowed the sale would proceed whether the gallery was able to acquire the David piece or not.
Asked Wednesday when the Chagall would be returned by Christie’s to the gallery, and how much cancelling the auction could cost, Mayer had very little to say.
“We don’t have anything to add that we haven’t said already,” Mayer said. “I’d rather wait until I have something to answer your questions.”
In French, Mayer said those answers could come within a couple days.
Mayer bristled when asked about his ongoing reticence.
“That is exactly how I should do my job. I am a professional, and when I have the information to give you, I will give it to you.”