National Gallery of Art Postpones Chuck Close Exhibition Over Misconduct Allegations, Debate Ensues

Chuck Close self-portrait, 86th St.  Station, NYC
Chuck Close self-portrait, 86th St. Station, NYC

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. has postponed an upcoming exhibition of works by artist Chuck Close after allegations of sexual misconduct emerged. 

Close told the New York Times that the allegations are "lies." He says, "I've done nothing wrong and I'm being crucified."

In a follow-up report, the Times touches on the public debate over museum reactions to artists' misdeeds and the rising tide of the #MeToo movement that has spotlighted sexual harassment.

Notes Kim Sajet, director of the Portrait Gallery, "You can't talk about portraiture in America without talking about Chuck Close." She adds, "There are lots of amazing artists who have been less than admirable people."

“In the Tower: Chuck Close” was scheduled to open May 13, and another exhibition of photographer Thomas Roma was to debut in September. Both exhibits were postponed after several women spoke of unwanted, lewd sexual comments from the artists, among other alleged offenses, to the New York Times, Hyperallergic and HuffPost

Seattle University has removed a self-portrait by Close in the wake of the allegations.

“Chuck Close Photographs,” the traveling exhibition now on view at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, will continue through April 8. Soon to follow, PAFA is planning a new exhibition in response to the Close controversy. A selection of works from its permanent collection "will address issues of gender, power, the politics of the workplace in the art world, and, most specifically, the artist in the studio." 

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