Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 6:23 PM ET, 12/13/2010

Warhol foundation demands Smithsonian restore video

By Jacqueline Trescott

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, one of the principal sponsors of "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture," demanded Monday that the Smithsonian restore the David Wojnarowicz video or the foundation would not fund future projects.

The Wojnarowicz work, "A Fire in My Belly," contains 11 seconds of an image of ants crawling on a crucifix and was removed after criticism from Capitol Hill and conservative groups. The

Clockwise from top left: A screengrab from "Fire in My Belly," artist David Wojnarowicz, museum director Martin Sullivan, Rep. John A. Boehner and protesters of Smithsonian's decision.

Smithsonian said the uproar over the video from supporters of the artist's work and from opponents to his images was a distraction from the overall show of many masterpieces.

The Warhol Foundation is the first major funder to publicly voice outrage. "We strongly condemn the decision to remove David Wojnarowicz's video 'A Fire in My Belly' from the exhibition. Such blatant censorship is unconscionable. It is inimical to everything the Smithsonian Institution should stand for, and everything the Andy Warhol Foundation does stand for," Joel Wachs, the foundation's president, said in a letter Monday to Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough.

The fund's board voted unanimously Friday to condemn the Smithsonian action, Wachs said. The fund gave $100,000 to "Hide/Seek," one of the early donations that provided a catalyst for other fundraising. That donation is part of a total $375,000 given to the Smithsonian for recent shows.

"We cannot stand by and watch the Smithsonian bow to the demands of bigots who have attacked the exhibition out of ignorance, hatred and fear," said the letter.

Reached by telephone, Wachs said, "We felt serious about taking this action and decided to fight fire with fire." Clough responded Monday in a statement: "While we regret the Foundation's action, the Smithsonian's decision to remove the video was a difficult one and we stand by it. The 104 works of the 'Hide/Seek' exhibition will remain on view at the National Portrait Gallery."

The exhibit is set to close Feb. 13.

Wachs, who attended the opening of the show in late October, said he found the exhibition, the largest in the gallery's history, to be "extraordinary."

"From a curatorial standpoint it was brilliant, revelatory and educational, I learned a lot from it.

"I went away wishing we had given them $200,000. To see it trivialized, it is really disheartening."
A forum on the controversy surrounding the show, including the removal of Wojnarowicz's video, will be the focus of a panel Wednesday night at the New York Public Library."

More on this story:

Full coverage: Smithsonian controversy

By Jacqueline Trescott  | December 13, 2010; 6:23 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Georgetown native inks pilot deal for CBS
Next: 'The King's Speech' leads Golden Globe movie nominations

No comments have been posted to this entry.

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge'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