Liberal School Board Votes To Destroy Revolutionary Mural Showing Washington's Slaves For Being 'Racist'

JUST ONE OF 13 PANELS IN VICTOR ARNAUTOFF’S ‘THE LIFE OF WASHINGTON’ SET TO BE DESTROYED BY SAN FRANCISCO SCHOOL BOARD FOR BEING RACIST.

JUST ONE OF 13 PANELS IN VICTOR ARNAUTOFF’S ‘THE LIFE OF WASHINGTON’ SET TO BE DESTROYED BY SAN FRANCISCO SCHOOL BOARD FOR BEING RACIST.

Liberal School Board Votes To Destroy Revolutionary Mural Showing Washington's Slaves For Being 'Racist'

In a decision that has inflamed passions around art censorship — even among liberals — the San Francisco School Board has voted to paint over the 83-year-old mural ‘The Life of Washington’, painted by Victor Arnautoff, a New Deal muralist celebrated for his accurate telling of American history.

In addition to depicting Washington as a storied soldier, surveyor, statesman and signer of the Declaration of Independence, the 13-panel, 1,600-square foot mural at George Washington High School features disruptive images of white men standing over the body of a Native American as well as slaves working at Washington’s Mount Vernon estate in Virginia.

Arnautoff’s refusal to omit the more controversial aspects of Washington’s history were designed to call attention to “uncomfortable facts” about America’s first president.

“We on the left ought to welcome the honest portrayal,” Richard Walker, a professor emeritus of geography at the University of California, Berkeley and director of the history project, Living New Deal said, adding that destroying a piece of art “is the worst way we can deal with historic malfeasance, historic evils.”

Related:

Activists Want a San Francisco High School Mural Removed, Saying Its Impact Today Should Overshadow the Artist’s Intentions

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Activists Want a San Francisco High School Mural Removed, Saying Its Impact Today Should Overshadow the Artist’s Intentions

For nearly a century, a massive mural by painter Victor Arnautoff titled “The Life of Washington” has lined the hallways of San Francisco’s George Washington High School.

It may not be there much longer.

The mural “glorifies slavery, genocide, colonization, manifest destiny, white supremacy [and] oppression.” So said Washington High School’s Reflection and Action Group, an ad-hoc committee formed late last year and made up of Native Americans from the community, students, school employees, local artists and historians.

It identified two panels as especially offensive. One shows Washington pointing westward next to the body of a dead Native American. The other depicts slaves working in the fields of Mount Vernon.

Because the work “traumatizes students and community members,” the group concluded that “the impact of this mural is greater than its intent ever was.” They are campaigning for its removal.

The idea that impact matters more than intention has informed debates about everything from microaggressions to cultural appropriation.

But when it comes to art, should impact matter more than intention?

As historians committed to preserving our cultural heritage – and as citizens invested in the power of art to engage the public – we see the growing chorus of voices favoring impact over intention as a dangerous trend, one that makes art more vulnerable to rejection, censorship or even destruction.

Met Refuses To Bow To Petition Demanding Removal Of Balthus 'Thérèse Dreaming' (1938), Suggesting Dialogue Instead

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Met Refuses To Bow To Petition Demanding Removal Of Balthus 'Thérèse Dreaming' (1938), Suggesting Dialogue Instead

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has no intention of removing a painting of a young girl by Balthus, 'Thérèse Dreaming' (1938), that has been targeted by an online petition. 

The petition, launched by New York City resident Mia Merrill, has garnered more than 8,700 signatures in five days. Headlined “Metropolitan Museum of Art: Remove Balthus’s Suggestive Painting of a Pubescent Girl, Thérèse Dreaming", the petition states that the Met should not “proudly display” an image that “romanticizes the sexualization of a child.”

In response to Merrill's accusation that the Met is, perhaps unintentionally, supporting voyeurism and the objectification of children, a spokesman for the Met called the controversy “an opportunity for a conversation” about the “continuing evolution of existing culture.”

“The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s mission is to ‘…collect, study, conserve, and present significant works of art across all times and cultures in order to connect people to creativity, knowledge, and ideas.’ Moments such as this provide an opportunity for conversation, and visual art is one of the most significant means we have for reflecting on both the past and the present, and encouraging the continuing evolution of existing culture through informed discussion and respect for creative expression.”

Alt-Left Learns From Alt-Right, Demanding Dana Schutz Show In Boston Not Proceed

Dana Schutz, Getting Dressed All at Once, 2012. Oil on canvas, 73 1/2 × 56 1/4 in. (186.7 × 142.9 cm). Private collection, Courtesy Reiss Klein Partners. Courtesy the artist and Petzel, New York. © Dana Schutz

Dana Schutz, Getting Dressed All at Once, 2012. Oil on canvas, 73 1/2 × 56 1/4 in. (186.7 × 142.9 cm). Private collection, Courtesy Reiss Klein Partners. Courtesy the artist and Petzel, New York. © Dana Schutz

Alt-Left Learns From Alt-Right, Demanding Dana Schutz Show In Boston Not Proceed AOC Salon

After all the controversy surrounding Dana Schutz's Emmett Till painting at the Whitney Museum this spring, you might be excited to attend the free talk scheduled at Boston's ICA on Sep 14, 2017 at 6pm.  That is if the Dana Schutz show -- now open at The Institute of Contemporary Art Boston -- continues!

Following the Spring 2017 Dana Schutz controversy, the same activists now seek to shut down her Boston show entirely, making what normally is a right-wing argument justifying censorship.  America's far-left-wing argues that Schutz does not deserve a show because she is harmful to America in some way. She affronts! Schutz doesn't deserve acclaim as an artist, even stronger now because of the Whitney controversy. The demands are positively chilling, as I outline in what is admittedly a visceral response to news that activists are trying to show down the Schutz show. 

Note that in Feb. 2017 Freemuse moved the USA onto their list of Top 10 Censoring Countries in the world, putting us in the company of Russia, Pakistan and Iran. My comments were focused on censorship coming from the alt-right but the growing faction of the Sanders wing underscores the reality that demands for censorship also come from the far-left in this explosive demand that her entire show be closed. Chilling!

Handmaids News: Handmaids Trump Style | Emma Watson Drops 'The Handmaid Tale' Around Paris | Weak Men Like Trump Fear Menstruation

Handmaids News: Handmaids Trump Style | Emma Watson Drops 'The Handmaid Tale' Around Paris | Weak Men Like Trump Fear Menstruation

Many American high schools have also banned the book from its libraries, claiming the content is too sexually graphic. The American Library Association ranked it No. 88 on its list of most frequently challenged books from 2000 to 2009. The association maintains the list to keep track of books that are subject of attempted bans or censorship.

#Pizzagate Trumpsters Track British Artist Maria Marshall At National Museum of Women in the Arts

MARIA MARSHALL, WHEN I GROW UP I WANT TO BE A COOKER (1998). COURTESY OF THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART.

MARIA MARSHALL, WHEN I GROW UP I WANT TO BE A COOKER (1998). COURTESY OF THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART.

#Pizzagate Trumpsters Track British Artist Maria Marshall At National Museum of Women in the Arts

“There are things here I cannot show you, that some of you aren’t going to be happy with,” says the narrator, whose #Pizzagate channel on YouTube has almost 8,000 subscribers. The tone of voice is scandalized, the language vaguely threatening. He suggests that a man seen in a video in which Marshall makes brownies for her family is a pedophile. I “don’t know what you’re going to do about it,” he says, with the implication that his followers should take their anger to the source. And then: “I’m going to make a video on it in hopes that the right person sees it.” (Note that the video may have been removed.)

#Pizzagate is not gone from America's national scene. The false-flag operation that targeted presidential candidate Hillary Clinton with a debunked conspiracy theory that Clinton joined John Podesta in running a human trafficking and child-sex ring out of a DC pizza restaurant has now swept British artist Maria Marshall into its garbage dump. 

In fact, Marshall's art will be considered 'evidence' of #Pizzagate truth by die-hard Trumpsters. 

Marshall is among the artists collected by Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's brother Tony who, with his ex-wife Heather, donated many of the most substantial works that appear in 'Revival', an exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. The show celebrates the institution’s 30th anniversary and will be on view through September 10.

2017 Whitney Biennial Curators Lew & Lockshave Stand Firm On 'Open Casket' Controversy

2017 Whitney Biennial Curators Lew & Lockshave Stand Firm On 'Open Casket' Controversy

2017 Whitney Biennial Co-Curator Responds To 'Open Casket' Controversy

Not in recent memory has a single painting caused such controversy and furor in the contemporary art world as Dana Schutz's 'Open Casket' (2016), part of New York's current Whitney Biennial. The portrait focuses on the disfigured corpse of Emmett Till, murdered in 1955 at age 14 by a Mississippi lynch mob after conflicting stories about whistling -- or 'worse' according to suggestive innuendos in court testimony -- at a white woman. 

The two Biennial creators  Christopher Lew and Mia Lockshave also become the target of criticism, and Artnet New's editor-in-chief Andrew Goldstein spoke to Lew about the controversy.

It's easy to forget that there are 62 other artists in the Whitney Biennial with all the controversy around 'Open Casket'. Referencing the dynamic playing out in the summer of 2016, when final curatorial decisions were being made for the Biennial, Goldstein summarizes America's mindset: Read on.

Fake Letter Requesting Removal Of Dana Schutz' 'Open Casket' Emmett Till Painting Dials Up Protest Temperature

The controversy around artist Dana Schutz' controversial painting 'Open Casket' and the horrific death of Emmett Till continues at the Whitney Biennial. This shocking image above appeared in Google Images and is from former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos' website

The debated work is based on a photograph from the funeral of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black American who was murdered in Mississippi for flirting with a white woman. 

Schutz shared her perspective about the painting with ArtNet News, saying:

You’ve said in the Times that you approached the painting as a mother, and as a way to explore a mother’s pain. Would there have been no way to address the subject without, as your critics would have it, appropriating black experience?

It was the feeling of understanding and sharing the pain, the horror. I could never, ever know her experience, but I know what it is to love your child. I don’t know if there would be a way to address the subject without some way of approaching it on a personal level.

Could you have foreseen that you were stepping on a third rail by treating this explosive subject? If so, what made it necessary to paint Emmett Till specifically?
Yes, for many reasons. The anger surrounding this painting is real and I understand that. It’s a problematic painting and I knew that getting into it. I do think that it is better to try to engage something extremely uncomfortable, maybe impossible, and fail, than to not respond at all.

Will the reaction to the painting change anything about your practice in the future?
I’m sure it has to.

On Thursday morning several new outlets including Artsy, Frieze, and Out Magazine published parts or all of an open letter alleged to have been written by the artist Dana Schutz, requesting that the painting be removed from the exhibition. Shortly after, the letter addressed to Whitney Biennial 2017 co-curators Christopher Y. Lew and Mia Locks was declared to be a fake by  Stephen Soba, the Whitney Museum’s director of communications.

Queer artist Parker Bright has maintained a vigil in front of the painting, blocking its view. Bright met with Lew and Locks to express his views, and he was assured that Schutz would not sell the painting or profit from it in any way, writes Out.

Artist Hannah Black sent a letter earlier in the week to the curators, requesting that the painting be moved and destroyed. AOC will revisit this story after digesting a number of essays and thoughtful pieces about the controversy.

Read AOC's original story, including the full text of Black's letter to the Whitney and new details around Emmett Till's death: Dana Schutz' Painting Of Emmett Till Creates Controversy At Whitney Biennial 2017 AOC Salon