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

'Life+of+Washington'+mural+in+San+Francisco.jpg

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

Balthus-painting-Met-censorship-.png

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.