There’s lots to see at the Pérez Art Museum Miami, but one work in particular caught my eye during a stroll through the glorious Herzog & de Meuron-designed building studded with palm fronds and greenery. It’s by MacArthur “Genius Grant” winner Njideka Akunyili Crosby: a collage featuring fabric from her mother’s campaign for the senate in Nigeria as well a picture of the singer Grace Jones imposed on a television set—all under the title See Through (2016).
It would not be easy to acquire. Crosby completes so few paintings a year, and the demand for her work is so high, that when an auction house manages to secure a consignment, it might sell—as happened last year—for triple its high estimate.
The primary market is just as tightly controlled. When Crosby had her first solo show at London’s Victoria Miro gallery in October 2016, the dealer was said to have placed work only in public museums, not in a single private collection. There were 18 contenders on the waiting list, and, of those, the museums that got lucky were pillars like Tate Modern and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
You can add the Pérez to that list, as See Through was one of the works in that first solo show—and it is now on view, in glorious fashion, in its new home. And the wall text reveals another wrinkle to the acquisition saga: the purchase was made by PAMM’s Collectors Council, in honor of Jack Tilton, the legendary art dealer who passed away in June. It’s a fitting tribute.