In an act of self-censoring condescension, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and three other leading galleries have postponed a major retrospective exhibition of the works of American artist Philip Guston from June 2021 to 2024.
The show, which was to be called “Philip Guston Now”, contained several works that featured hooded figures from the Ku Klux Klan. The curators feared that their audience would not be high enough to perceive and appreciate the obviously anti-racist intent of the artist’s works.
Allegedly in the face of the “movement for racial justice that began in the US and broadcast to countries around the world,” the directors of the four galleries said in a September press release that they would postpone the exhibition until a time we believe it will The strong message of social and racial justice at the center of Philip Guston’s work can be interpreted more clearly. “
The rebound against this decision, which pretended that the suppression of images that remind us of sinister truths can somehow erase historical evils, was immediate. “The people who run our major institutions … fear controversy,” said an open letter signed by 100 prominent artists of various ethnic and racial origins. “They lack confidence in the intelligence of their audience.” Guston’s daughter Musa Mayer also made a statement in which she rightly claimed that “these images hit the moment we are in today. The danger is not looking at Philip Guston’s work, but looking the other way.”