Fluff shows of corporate art collections are generally the lowest of the low. An exception is at the California African American Museum through next June. “The Legacy of the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company: More Than a Business” surveys a storied patron. In 1965 GSM initiated a corporate collection of African-American art at its Los Angeles headquarters. That was three years before the founding of the Studio Museum in Harlem. GSM became a crucial collector when the art market and museums weren’t interested in black art unless it came from Africa.
Then Golden State Mutual fell off a fiscal cliff. In 2007 it sold the cream of its art collection at Swann Auction Galleries, New York. The works at CAAM are mostly second-string, supplemented by a few loans. The quality is wildly uneven, but