Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 9:18 AM ET, 12/16/2010

Artist asks to withdraw work from 'Hide/Seek' exhibit to protest video removal

By Blake Gopnik

art
Clockwise from top left: A scene from "Fire in My Belly," artist David Wojnarowicz, museum director Martin Sullivan, Rep. John A. Boehner and protesters. | FULL COVERAGE

bronson
Bronson. (Ari Marcopoulos)

In protest of the removal of a controversial video, Canadian artist AA Bronson, one of the pioneers of gay-themed contemporary art, on Wednesday asked for a major work of his to be withdrawn from the Smithsonian exhibition, "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture," which explores imagery by and about homosexuals.

The exhibition, at the National Portrait Gallery through Feb. 13, has been the source of controversy since Nov. 30, when Christian activists and members of Congress pressured the museum into removing one of its pieces, a 1987 video by the late artist David Wojnarowicz that included 11 seconds of footage of a Crucifix crawling with ants.

(Related: At N.Y. event, curators can't avoid culture war)

The piece that Bronson has asked to be removed is a mural-size color photograph titled "Felix, June 5, 1994", showing the corpse of the artist's partner Felix Partz, lying in bed only minutes or hours after his death caused by AIDS. The photo is one of the exhibition's linchpin works, and praised as a "harrowing, almost unbearable image" in my rave review of "Hide/Seek."

"I do this out of solidarity with David Wojnarowicz," Bronson said by phone from New York Thursday morning. "I feel I have no choice but to withdraw the work."

He said his decision came after the Smithsonian refused to reinstate the video, even after the Andy Warhol Foundation had announced its withdrawal of future funding to Smithsonian shows if the reinstatement didn't happen. "As far as I'm concerned, everybody in the show should withdraw their work," Bronson said. He said he has received an email from a Portrait Gallery curator asking him to reverse his decision, but that he plans to forge ahead with the removal of his work.

Smithsonian controversy

USER POLL: Do you agree with the Smithsonian?

TIMELINE: Notable art controversies



Bronson's request for withdrawal, which he sent around 6 p.m. Wednesday, took the form of an email to Martin Sullivan, director of the National Portrait Gallery, in which the artist writes that he has asked the National Gallery of Canada, the work's owner, to take back the photo. "I had resisted taking this step, hoping that some reconciliation could be reached regarding the censorship of the David Wojnarowicz video, but it is clear that this is not coming any time soon."

(Video: Martin Sullivan discusses 'sacrilege' at the gallery)

If the Canadian museum chooses not to withdraw the work, it is not yet clear whether Bronson has the authority, either legal or moral, to force them to do so. "I don't think I need to compel them. I think they'll be quite supportive," Bronson said. He said that he has corresponded with a curator at the National Gallery of Canada who is in agreement with his position, but had not yet spoken to the museum's director, Marc Mayer.

Bronson also raised the possibility that even Mayer might not have full authority to have the piece withdrawn, if the loan agreement were for a fixed term and the Smithsonian chose to enforce it - which Bronson finds very unlikely.

"I do think that the issue is not an issue of art versus religion," Bronson said, speaking of the controversy over the Wojnarowicz video. Though not a follower of any single creed ("I've never figured out what I am"), Bronson works as a director of The Institute for Art, Religion and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary in New York, which describes itself as "the oldest independent, non-denominational seminary in the nation."

And he said that his peers there find Wojnarowicz's video to be an "entirely appropriate" use of Jesus on the Cross, whose image, they feel, always stands for "universal suffering." Bronson believes there is "a very large contingent of Christians" who would approve of this reading of the video, "but it is less visible than the Christan right."

Though raised as an Anglican Christian (the Canadian equivalent of an Episcopalian), Bronson says he stopped practicing when he was seven because of fury at a hypocritical Sunday school teacher. More recently, he spent 14 years as a practicing Buddhist. "In the end, I seem to have come back in the direction of Christianity," he said.

In the email, which the artist forwarded to the Washington Post, he says:

Dear Martin Sullivan

I have sent an email to the National Gallery of Canada requesting that they remove my work "Felix, June 5, 1994" from the "Hide/Seek" exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. I had resisted taking this step, hoping that some reconciliation could be reached regarding the censorship of the David Wojnarowicz video, but it is clear that this is not coming any time soon. As an artist who saw first hand the tremendous agony and pain that so many of my generation lived through, and died with, I cannot take the decision of the Smithsonian lightly. To edit queer history in this way is hurtful and disrespectful.

yours truly,
AA Bronson
Artistic Director
Institute of Art, Religion, and Social Justice
at Union Theological Seminary


User poll:


More on this story:

Curators try to keep art on agenda, but can't avoid culture war
Smithsonian removes controversial art (analysis, videos, photos)

By Blake Gopnik  | December 16, 2010; 9:18 AM ET
Categories:  Blake Gopnik, Museums, News Features  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Smithsonian names Pierre Huyghe 2010 Contemporary Artist
Next: 2010 Pop Quiz: The Year in Arts

Comments

so?

Posted by: 12thgenamerican | December 16, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Right on.

Posted by: citigreg | December 16, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Right on.

Posted by: citigreg | December 16, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

I am so sorry that I don't give a hoot.

On the other hand, check out the U.S. Botanic Gardens and see nature's true art.

Posted by: mellwood1 | December 16, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

This is a mistake in judgment by the artist that I cannot agree with. To respond to censorship and suppression by silencing yourself as well is a surrender and a disservice to the general public.

I have been really heartened at the very different media response to this controversy, as opposed to similar faked-up anti-art, anti-gay controversies in the past.

This time, mainstream voices ranging from Stephen Colbert to (more seriously!) the Washington Post have made it clear to me as an occasional museum-goer who goes to a few exhibitions every year that Hide/Seek may be a crucial moment in the public display and acknowledgment of art on gay themes.

I want to see everything that is still there and would never have even heard about the show at all (again, I'm part of the bigger public not the art world) if it were not for the moronic decision re the video.

So, until I read this, it seemed that those advocating openness and the display of such works as part of the public dialogue were actually fighting back by publicizing this exhibition and soldiering on. If all the artists on display follow this man's cue, much will have been lost that is currently important and available for the first time in this way to the broader world of museum-goers (this is the Smithsonian -- huge numbers of visitors), a group he has pretty much disregarded with this decision.

I sympathize with his message but believe he is 100 percent wrong on this one. I hope he will reconsider. Maybe the work could remain but with something beside it like a large, angry statement from the artist, a still from the banned video, or the like?

Posted by: fairfaxvoter1 | December 16, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

If the Smithsonian needs help in removing the artwork, I am willing to volunteer.

Anyone that calls imagery of their dead gay lover art is twisted. Anyone that displays said 'art' lacks common sense.

In closing - one thing I don't understand: If I call something queer, 'they' consider me a bigot - while at the same time, wish to draw attention to 'queer history'. I just don't understnad the double standards that society has accepted.

I seems to me that you want only want people to acknowledge your perspective of being queer, its history and struggles you faced. It also seems to me that at the same time, you refuse to acknowledge the negative side it has had on others or understand why some people find it offensive. Talk about closed minded.

Posted by: Disbelief | December 16, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Art shouldn't be politically correct. There are lots of artists who would gladly be exhibited in the Smith.

Posted by: blarsen1 | December 16, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

I wish one of these "brave" artists would be really true to your own principle's and do a "Dung on the Koran" or "Piss Allah" to express the pain the artist felt watching 3000 of his/her fellow Americans incinerated on 9/11. I wonder if the Post and the art community would be as supportive of this "art". Didnt think so......

Posted by: j751 | December 16, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Bravo, AA Bronson; one of my cousins died of
AIDS, and I think that only art has the ability to convey the tragedy of such a death.

Mourning, outrage and finally courage - demonstrated through art - can be a final gift, if only others would pause and try to understand.

Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | December 16, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

To "Disbelief":

You wrote:
Anyone that calls imagery of their dead gay lover art is twisted. Anyone that displays said 'art' lacks common sense.

-------

Remember that the works in question are from a time when AIDS was deliberately ignored by the media, political leaders, all the voices with megaphones, so to speak -- President Reagan deliberately avoided even the name of the disease for years -- while these artists saw death stalk through their communities month after month and the society looked away. Times were different then.

I would compare this display of the dead lover (though I have not seen the photograph) at a deliberately large scale to a different act of protest. After Emmett Till, a kid from Chicago, was murdered in the Deep South for whistling at a white woman, his mother famously insisted on an open casket at the funeral, even though he had been strapped to a cotton gin and thrown in the river after being beaten up (possibly to death). She said she wanted the world to know what they had done to her boy. Equally famously, Jet Magazine ran a photo of the body in the casket. Sometimes a photograph is worth a thousand words. In that case, the murderers were found innocent by a jury that took about half an hour to deliberate (they spent the time drinking cold sodas) but the memory and the message were not forgotten and helped shape the later civil rights movement. I see this as in the same spirit.

The separate debate about whether photography is art or not was pretty much thrashed out about a century ago--few would say Ansel Adams was not an artist, right?

---------

You also wrote:
If I call something queer, 'they' consider me a bigot - while at the same time, wish to draw attention to 'queer history'. I just don't understnad the double standards that society has accepted.

That's an interesting point. A lot of words started as insults but were "claimed" by the victims as a source of pride (while still being used as hate speech by others at the same time). Apparently "queer" is no different. There are actually now "queer studies" as opposed to "gay studies" at some schools.

Some other examples: Yankee Doodle Dandy was an insult of the country bumpkins in the American colonies, who then adopted "Yankee" as a source of pride. The words "Quaker" and "Puritan" were both establishment sneers and put-downs when they were first used, but again later became sources of great pride to those people. In fact, I think at one time "black" was avoided in polite English, something deliberately reversed by the "black is beautiful" movement.

So if this same pattern of "claiming" an insulting term and making it a point of pride happened as long ago as the Puritans, I don't think what's happened with the word "queer" really reflects anything new about how society works or how the English language evolves. Nothing new under the sun!

Posted by: fairfaxvoter1 | December 16, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

12thgenamerican asked, so?

Answer:

Who cares what YOU think, loser.

Posted by: grantmh | December 16, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Disbelief,

"I seems to me that you want only want people to acknowledge your perspective of being queer, its history and struggles you faced."

Truly, you speak from a position of privilege. Would you also be opposed to the descendants of slaves speaking about their history and struggles? Who is more fit to talk about queer history than the LGBT community themselves? You?

Posted by: BuffaloGal78 | December 16, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

ALL of these artists, along with anyone showing in any national gallery, should pull their work down and refuse to show at these places until they can guarantee that once a show is hung, it stays up regardless of politics. Perhaps a contract, which I will bet there was, but not with the guarantee. Artists, get this written into any agreement for every show. You have rights when you have a contract.
The galleries should not be for artwork for everyone, they should be places where everyone can show artwork. They should defer to the artists, because after all an art gallery without art is just a room.
This should go for all artists. Have a christian art show, have a family art show, but adults of all kinds should be allowed to have art shows without the overhanging threat of offending parents with children for every show.
This was one show in the behemoth that is the Smithsonian, if it offends you, don't go in.

Posted by: ripper368 | December 16, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

A pair of crucifix (crucifices?), placed in a Fisher-Price school bus, pulled mechanically round and round a silver circle to the tune of Waylon Jennings' "Dukes of Hazzard" theme.

Posted by: Meepo | December 16, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I looked it his "art". It is utter cr@p and shouldn't have been hung in the 1st place.

Posted by: illogicbuster | December 16, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Any institution that is paid for by the public has to be held accountable for decency standards. The art world has run wild offending the sensibilities and the religion of a large percentage of Americans for quite a while now. If they want to exhibit this trash in private galleries, fine, but not out there in taxpayer funded museums.

Posted by: katie6 | December 16, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I agree with illogicbuster. Forget his views. His art is just not good.

Posted by: Bob_Dobbs | December 16, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

should i care?

Posted by: perryrants | December 16, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the artist. Maybe the Smithsonian should put up Velvet Elvis, Mickey Mouse and other forms of "art" more in line with the IQ of the American public. Then the curators can sit back and be sure that Congress will let the money keep rolling in, and we can go to Canada or elsewhere if we want to actually see art.

Posted by: garoth | December 16, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Open note to "artist" Bronson:

Did you need help tossing the trash out, or can we assume you are just going to put it in the nearest receptacle???

Posted by: medic2010 | December 16, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

what makes "gay-themed contemporary art" important? does one have to be gay to produce it?

Posted by: perryrants | December 16, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

A crucifix mounted on a rifle spring, sunk into a large green mound of clay, underneath a strobe light with "The Sound of Music" theme playing.

Posted by: Meepo | December 16, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

For those critical of Bronson's choice, consider: his decision makes perfect sense, business-wise. It's crucial in any undertaking to jump on an opportunity the moment you recognize it. Bronson did just that when he snapped a photo of his dead partner, and is doing it now with his principled stand against the Smithsonian. While the art world (his particular market) debates the institution's choice regarding the Wojnarowicz piece, Bronson has turned the focus to himself and his product. Even though he has removed it from the shelf, so to speak, the high-profile press alone is enough to grow demand.

He's created good buzz from the negative press surrounding a rival. It's a shrewd move worthy of any marketing seminar.

Posted by: hugesfan | December 16, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Beat it.

Gopnick, you continue to cite the desecration of a crucifix as 11 seconds, almost as if to say, "it's only 11 seconds."

It's not duration, it's the desecration...and obtuse, intellectually dishonest double standard with which certain people attack Christian imagery but do not extend to the real intolerance in this world. Hint: it's 2 syllables and begins with the letter I.

And it's not censorship either. If the curator of the exhibit never chose to exhibit it in the first place, nothing would prevent its display anywhere else.

Posted by: chambers14 | December 16, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

To all the haters, there is a larger point than your own reaction to art exhibitions. If the Christian church decides what is "appropriate" for EVERYONE to see, then you might as well be living in Iran or in Saudi Arabia; you have lost your right to object because you are doing the same thing. If you are merely acting on your homophobia, then there are many artists you mush avoid. Like Michelangelo, DaVinci--and there's a lot of authors and musicians you should avoid too. And you should especially avoid telling other people what they can and cannot see--but by all means, spare your eyes and ears by Googling to make sure you aren't accidentally seeing something a gay person had something to do with. There might even be a gay subtext or something that you wouldn't even notice until too late.

Posted by: Beckola | December 16, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

If he's not blaspheming, he's not an artist. I like his stuff. Big deal. If nobody else thinks its neat, big deal.

Posted by: Meepo | December 16, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

A crucifix as a crossbow, with a spearhead as Jesus' head.

Posted by: Meepo | December 16, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

There must be a cadre of perverted "experts" who determine what is "art".
True art reflects nature and mankind, not some pervert's sick mind. Dali's images offered unique perspectives on the world, a different way of seeing things, not a "shock value" impact designed to disgust enough to draw attention to substandard quality work.
This is just a publicity stunt designed to get the la-la crowd to jump to his defense and buy his trash.

Posted by: pjohn2 | December 16, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

You know, you gotta love the posturing here. My freedom of speech may include the use of blindfolds and earplugs if I so choose, but it does not necessarily include your right to shove your work up my...

Posted by: tmkelley | December 16, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Some speak as if the desecration of the Christ image is an insult to Christianity rather than a metaphor for the suffering that is still being endured by humanity - in this case by the sufferers of aids.
Having lost a brother to aids and a few friends, I completely understand AA Bronson, and this is about something much larger than a single art exhibit.

The fear and intolerance in people's hearts and minds is tragic. And until we are able to allow one another's honest expression of our individual truth - and open minded venues for their display, where the public can attend or not - until this is a simple and normal reality, we are kidding ourselves when we say we live in freedom...

Posted by: thanksforfish | December 16, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

At least he calls it work and not art. He apparently knows the difference. Interesting.

Posted by: jasonmason | December 16, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

To katie6...this exhibit was ENTIRELY privately funded. None of your taxes were used to put on this exhibit. And even if it was funded by the Smithsonian and taxes, who are you to speak for all taxpayers? I certainly don't want you speaking on my behalf, EVER! I enjoyed the exhibit before the Smithsonian caved to a bunch of religious nutbags.

Posted by: e69ndc | December 16, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

The manure that this buffoon calls art isn't fit to line the walls of an outhouse. Let him dig his trash out of the dumpster. Better to display dogs playing poker.

Posted by: carlbatey | December 16, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

I hope he will self-immolate in protest.

Seriously, there's plenty of great art to fill the galleries.

Posted by: blasmaic | December 16, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Bronson's request for withdrawal, which he sent around 6 p.m. Wednesday, took the form of an email to Martin Sullivan, director of the National Portrait Gallery, in which the artist writes that he has asked the National Gallery of Canada, the work's owner, to take back the photo.
-----------------
The artist has every right to protest, but he doesn't even own the work so it really isn't up to him anymore.

Posted by: sux123 | December 16, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

A lineup of bomb-laden B-25 crucifixes idling on the USS Hornet, awaiting takeoff on the Mission.

Posted by: Meepo | December 16, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

grantmh, ditto.

Posted by: 12thgenamerican | December 16, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

he seems a little bit late in doing this. Not much impact. maybe he just wants publicity.

Posted by: thebuckguy | December 16, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

We don't need no "gay-themed" art. We need Christian realist art glorifying god and Jesus.

Like paintings of priests buggering little boys. The Catholic League would love that!

Posted by: Garak | December 16, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Though I understand his "staement", I think he should keep his art in the museum to defy censorship. He should not let a bunch of thugs and holier-than-thou types dictate what is in museums. Didn't Stalin do that to the arts (dance, theater, literature, visual,etc.)?

Posted by: jckdoors | December 16, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

OK--you heard the little boy...give him his ball so he can take it home and pout. No big loss. It will just free up some room for a grown-up to display something with less petulance and more thought behind it.

Posted by: PanhandleWilly | December 16, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

We don't need no "gay-themed" art. We need Christian realist art glorifying god and Jesus.

Like paintings of priests buggering little boys. The Catholic League would love that!

Posted by: Garak | December 16, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

--------------

I have to laugh each time I see some moron spell "God" with a lower case "g". When you're referring to your diety then use title case like a proper noun. Elsewhere use a lower case "g." I'm not some god of correct usage, but it would be nice to see people who think they're so smart showing some respect for the language, God dammit.

Posted by: blasmaic | December 16, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I say we do not need any homosexual, promotional, art shows at all. This stuff is bizarre, ugly, and repulsive to normal human beings. American art should be much better than this psycho-homocentric garbage.

A.A. Bronson and all his like should make their living by setting up their displays where they truly belong. In gay bars.

Posted by: battleground51 | December 16, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

I'll respect how brave these artists are when one of them does an exhibit critical of Islam.

Why not?

Because the cartoonist who did "Everybody draw mohammad day" is in witness protection.

Posted by: drjcarlucci | December 16, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Narrow-minded "Christians" and Members of Congress should stay the hell out of critiquing works of art. They would do far better to put their houses in order.

Posted by: washpost16 | December 16, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

katey6: "... decency standards ..."

There is no good, precise, definition of "decency standards", especially when it comes to art. Great art will make you think and feel in ways you haven't before. In other words, outside the standard way.

Posted by: egc52556 | December 16, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Oh those so tolerant homosexuals. That isn't "work" that was requested to be withdrawn, that falls under the category of blasphemey. If the gay agenda is to offend the God fearing, then they should be cursed for eternity. If you are such an artist, why not put something together on mohammed or islam? exactly. You wehom curse the name of the Lord will be cursed, and whether you choose to believe what it true, you will burn in hell for your sins. Christians will eventually tire of their tolerance for the 2% of the populations perverse ideology. You are a disgrace to the human race, and an offensive idiot. I agree with the withdrawal of this moron from society. Fund your offensive trash with your own money turd.

Posted by: Right1 | December 16, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

@blasmaic: The use of lower-case in "god" is quite deliberate. Capitalizing it shows undeserved respect.

Posted by: Garak | December 16, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Please honor his request IMMEDIATELY !!

Posted by: maddogjts | December 16, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

meepo~ I want to see your work! Great Ideas, really, no sarcasm at all.

There are a lot of small minded bigots posting here, yet the poll has 93% agreeing with the artist.

A lot of people didn't think that cubism, pointillism, abstraction or dadaism were art either (until those works were worth a lot of money), but art shouldn't always be safe. Contemporary art even less so. Taste is subjective, you are entitled to like what you like, but not to tell me or anybody else what "art" is or is not.

Posted by: pete1013 | December 16, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

The entire issue is childish. Life is so much easier if you ignore childish people.

Posted by: kchses1 | December 16, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

By all means, remove your "art" and go sell it on the market. No one is censoring you. The day you can't sell it on Ebay or on a street corner or gas station, then yes, you will experience censorship. But the Smithsonian is under absolutely no obligation to show your stuff. That it does so is an immense privilege extended to you, one your politically correct and myopic views cannot seem to comprehend.

Posted by: medogsbstfrnd | December 16, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I still think that withdrawing other works of art as a form of protest is giving too much power to Eric Cantor et al.

What happens when you withdraw them? The public that goes to big museums like the Smithsonian -- most of whom, trust me, will never even have heard of this controversy -- doesn't have the chance to see them at all. Just like the last several centuries.

Withdrawing even more works means adding to the silence and yielding the public square.

As someone once put it, Silence = Death .

I'm not in favor of silence.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter1 | December 16, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

A mural-size photo of a dead queer is called a major work? Feel sorrowful? Not! I did not help him get AIDS. He caused his own death.

Posted by: MRGB | December 16, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

@blasmaic: The use of lower-case in "god" is quite deliberate. Capitalizing it shows undeserved respect.

Posted by: Garak | December 16, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

------------

Well then why did you capitalize the word "Jesus?" I mean, if you refer to God as in your religion's diety then it should be capitalized, but if you refer to a god, or gods or demigods then it's lower case.

Not capitalizing the "g" when referring to the diety of your religion isn't unduly respectful. It's just plain stupid, God dammit.

Posted by: blasmaic | December 16, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Why do we care if Canadian Art is removed from the Smithsonian? I surely don't. I'm with some of the other posters here. If they need any help removing it, give me a call.

Send it packing back to Canada.

Posted by: ignoranceisbliss | December 16, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

It's sad that our country has a bunch of John Birch Society nutjobs in charge again not only controlling what we watch on the idiot-box but in galleries now as well. As far as removal from the public view goes, they are the ones who are obscene and should be removed. If you stand by and let them run the show in 2012, we will see nothing but more censorship and disgusting comments from bigoted morons who get encouragement from fawning sycophants on the fake news station that they allow to air deliberate misinformation.

This is NOT what democracy looks like. Remember this in 2012.

Posted by: jKO2010 | December 16, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Art should inspire, evoke emotion and, yes, offend some people. You may be disturbed by the image of the artist's dead lover - in fact you should be, if you're normal.

But being offensive is at least part of the point of the work: Aids is an ugly, wasting disease; maybe we need to look it full in the face before we'll finally begin to take it seriously.

Posted by: MidwaySailor76 | December 16, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Conservative Christian should be the ones who decide what is art and what is not. They know better than anyone else. If they don't like it, take it down. It's their country after all!

Posted by: writinron | December 16, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Looking at his "work," this is really no great loss. Plus, more room for American artists who have been excluded to accommodate this person.

Posted by: LaLydia | December 16, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Yes, and in addition to removing Mr. Bronson's art, the National Gallery should also make sure to leave the space that it will have occupied blank/empty, with nothing but an explanation.

It's unfortunate that there are a number of people who, except for the physical destruction, support the Taliban and 1930's Germany. With respect to Al-Qaeda. George W. Bush famously said, "They hate our freedoms." Sadly, there are an awful lot of Americans who don't like them very much, either. (You can tell because they very often are the ones wrapping themselves in the Flag and shrieking "support our troops" when they vote to deny improved health care to our troops, their families, disabled combat veterans, and 9/11 responders because the money is much better spent on tax breaks for millionaires.)

Posted by: edallan | December 16, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

A mural-size photo of a dead queer is called a major work? Feel sorrowful? Not! I did not help him get AIDS. He caused his own death.

Posted by: MRGB
===============================
And one can only hope you receive the same degree of compassion if you get sick.

Posted by: MidwaySailor76 | December 16, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, and if it was a video of some gay being covered with ants I suppose the "artist" would have a big problem with that. Stupid. Oh, and if you are reading this, what you call "art" everyone who is sane calls trash.

Posted by: newsboy3 | December 16, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Art is whatever the artist wants it to be. I may like or dislike a work of art - and I find a lot of modern art disturbing - but what is or isn't art is up to the person who created it.

Posted by: MidwaySailor76 | December 16, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: LaLydia~ "Looking at his "work," this is really no great loss. Plus, more room for American artists who have been excluded to accommodate this person."

Yeah! Like maybe the work of acclaimed American Contemporary Artist David Wojnarowicz he created some vital and thought provoking work on this subject ... oh.

Anything else you guys don't like, Michael Angelo's "David" is kind of homoerotic, I mean you can see his wiener!

Posted by: pete1013 | December 16, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

The problem - this isn't art.

Its simply the petulant whinings of a disturbed homosexual mind.

Posted by: pgr88 | December 16, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

of course they should all remove their works it's like the tail trying to wag the dog.. the artist are the one's who create the museums main job should be to stay out of the way. as a liberal minded artist in Tallahassee Florida i can assure you that censorship is a large problem in some area's artist must stand together or lose their voice to the money of the people who would dilute and silence the voice that is true. I did a one man picket of the mary brogan museum in Tallahassee on the night my favorite long time charity big bend cares a foundation for people with aids chose to have their fund raiser in the republican only mary brogen museum. I broke my heart but i had to make a personal stand and did. This museum has actually made fun of me. i did art work critical of George and jeb bush and i can assure you there is a black list in Tallahassee and censorship. it's no mistake the big corporations are paying big money for big blank works that say nothing.. The truth is their investment in the long run will be worth... nothing artistically or money wise but I assume they see it it as the price to silence questions and true reflections by bright expressive artist and cost effective. If the museums and gallery's become prostitutes to the money they will in the long and maybe the very near future be severing their own heads and will be replaced by true representations of current art and speech. There is a difference between decorations and ...art .. art says something and actually has the right to be wrong thats why people love to see real... ART the people making a lot of these choice of which art to show maybe top out creatively when they take a bowel movement BUTT THEY HAVE A LOT OF MONEY.. mONeY DOES NOT GUARANTEE YOU WILL BE BUYING ...ART... THE TRUE ARTIST IS THE REFLECTION OF THEIR TIMES AND THAT WILL NEVER END OR STOP BECAUSE REALITY AND THE PRESENT Keeps HAPPENING. If every one was allowed their voice publicly then the people not the art critics would more easily make their choices. StOp sin-sore-ship Oh and if all ideas were allowed to be heard we would get better answers and faster.. people who are afraid to let other people express themselves peacefully are admitting they think they might just be wrong or don't want a true accounting. the truth if you look through history is what the art was able to say when other people couldn't or wouldn't for may different reasons. It is the outlet of humanity.

Posted by: artistkvip1 | December 16, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

If the Smithsonian needs help in removing the artwork, I gladly will supply the match - already lit.

Posted by: DoTheRightThing | December 16, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

To the naysayers accusing AA Bronson of opportunism: you are wrong.

1. The opportunists here are the Catholic League and Republicans on the Hill who cried out over this work, without having seen it.

2. AA Bronson is already well-established. He doesn't need desperate marketing tactics. Anyway, this work is already sold and in collections. He can't sell it any more.

To the naysayers condemning him for making artwork from his dead lover: you don't know his story and you can't fathom his intentions. To better prepare yourself before making any future inflammatory statements, you can read his statement here:

http://www.aabronson.com/art/mirrormirror/lookingglass/felix2.htm

Posted by: gomichaelgo | December 16, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

So let me get this straight. Two congressmen get to determine what is in a privately funded show. Sort of conjures up the 1950's. Shame on the Smithsonian. Government approved art smacks of Soviet era controls over citizens lives. I hope this story receives wide distribution. It should make people very afraid.....first it is "them," next it is "you!"

Posted by: tarryh | December 16, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe how many people have posted here, proud to display their homophobia for the world to read.

Posted by: BuffaloGal78 | December 16, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Art? Hardly. Feel free do us all a favor and take your trash with you. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That definitely wasn't art by any stretch of the imagination.

Posted by: Desertdiva1 | December 16, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse


Hello,

Send Christmas Gifts. Buy more to send. On this site==== == http://www.1shopping.us/ ,

good place for shopping, fashion, sexy, personality, maturity, from here to begin. Are you ready?

===== http://www.1shopping.us/ ====

Air jordan(1-24)shoes $33

Handbags(Coach l v f e n d i d&g) $35

Tshirts (Polo ,ed hardy,lacoste) $15

Jean(True Religion,ed hardy,coogi) $30

Sunglasses(Oakey,coach,gucci,A r m a i n i) $15

New era cap $12

accept paypal and free shipping

====== http://www.1shopping.us/ ====

Posted by: shoestrade1930 | December 16, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

I request his art be removed from the Smithsonian too.

Posted by: jhtlag1 | December 16, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Good for him. What kind of lame museum takes down art because one group doesn't like it?

Posted by: catweasel3 | December 16, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Good for him. What kind of lame museum takes down art because one group doesn't like it?

Posted by: catweasel3 | December 16, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

A better question is why did the Smithsonian withdraw a the crucifix clip because a few loud jesus-freaks protested? The creationist sorts never go to cultural destinations anyway, so there's no loss in defying them.

Posted by: omarsidd | December 16, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company