Looking back at the journey Masterworks has taken over the past 25 years, it’s hard not to wonder what the next 25 and beyond may have in store for us.
Both Tom Butterfield and Elise Outerbridge are 63-years-old now but neither of them appear even close to wanting to step away.
Tom put it this way: “One of the great British artists, David Hockney, has a major show on at the Royal Academy right now and he is 72-years-old. This guy is working at a pace that most people of 25 would die for — that energy and intellect and output. He is just so prolific right now. Limitation is in the self, so maybe they will be taking me out of here in a box. I’ve got a feeling that yeah, we are here a little while yet.”
Despite this sense of confidence, the thought of who may continue the Masterworks legacy is never far from their minds.
“Whoever the individual is, needs to be someone who has inbred caring and passion not just for the art work but for the people around them from the volunteers, the staff to the boards that they work with to the people they meet. They have to be a people person, not a director that can be removed from the face of it — and a lot of directors are more going towards a businessman style of management.”
As for future acquisitions, there is one painting that Tom would do just about anything to get his hands on. During his days as a volunteer for the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, Tom borrowed an Andrew Wyeth painting called Royal Palms. Wyeth was an icon of 20th century landscapes and the painting attracted thousands of visitors. It was then that he realised the potential for an extensive collection of Bermuda art from around the world and the idea for Masterworks was born.
As Tom looks to the future of the museum on the milestone of its 25th anniversary, the Wyeth has come full circle in his mind. If there was one more acquisition he could get his hands on – it would be that same painting.
“It’s the only one right now that I would really, like to just…get the owner out of the way,” he says somewhat frustratedly.
“That painting was the catalyst and that’s the only one in private hands but museums don’t really let paintings go unless they are trying to raise a substantial amount of money.”
In terms of exhibitions, Tom says he would love to pull together a centenary show of Demuth, Hartley and Gleizes marking 100 years since they visited Bermuda in 1917.
Brimstone Media is currently working on a coffee table-style book featuring selected artwork from Masterworks.
Both Tom and Elise would love for this to one day be followed up with an academic account of the Masterwork’s legacy to inspire generations to come.