Art: One Way to Sell Books

The sales-minded new management of the Encyclopaedia Britannica has been busy for years on direct and indirect schemes to spruce up its volumes of knowledge ($198 and up). This week, the latest indirect scheme—some $200,000 worth of contemporary American art— was on display at Chicago's Art Institute. The show made news on its own.

The Britannica's new status as a U.S. art patron was no overnight achievement. When Sears, Roebuck & Co. gave its famed, unprofitable stepchild to the University of Chicago in 1943, along went Sears's Elkin ("Buck") Powell as the Britannica's...

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