Roy Cohn, 1981 © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation
 
Cohn of Silence: Now that Smithsonian chief G. Wayne Clough has publicly defended his decision to remove David Wojnarowicz’s “A Fire in My Belly” from the National Portrait Gallery’s “Hide/Seek,” he’s made it clear he has no intention of reversing it. So as the show’s closing date of February 13 approaches, the problem of how to protest his actions—without penalizing the museum for staging a show on gay identity in the first place—continues to  vex its lenders and supporters. The artist AA Bronson is still engaged in a legal struggle to remove Felix, June 4, 1994, a posthumous portrait of his partner, from the exhibition unless A Fire in My Belly is restored. The Calder Foundation rescinded a promised loan of a sculpture of Josephine Baker from an upcoming show of Calder portraits. The Mapplethorpe Foundation is the latest to make a symbolic gesture. Though it was widely reported that the foundation, like the Warhol Foundation, suspended future funding to the Smithsonian unless the Wojnarowicz went back on view, the reality is more nuanced—it had in fact announced its support of the Warhol Foundation’s position, but kept the question of future funding open. But earlier this month, when the Portrait Gallery requested permission to reproduce Mapplethorpe’s image of Roy Cohn—one of five works by the artist in the show—on a flyer announcing a gallery talk, the foundation declined. “We didn’t want to support any further use of the images that we had loaned in this iteration of the show,” says Foundation Manager Joree Adilman, referring to the banished video. “We’re not taking anything away—we just didn’t want to loan anything further.” 

Roy Cohn, 1981 © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Cohn of Silence: Now that Smithsonian chief G. Wayne Clough has publicly defended his decision to remove David Wojnarowicz’s “A Fire in My Belly” from the National Portrait Gallery’s “Hide/Seek,” he’s made it clear he has no intention of reversing it. So as the show’s closing date of February 13 approaches, the problem of how to protest his actions—without penalizing the museum for staging a show on gay identity in the first place—continues to  vex its lenders and supporters. The artist AA Bronson is still engaged in a legal struggle to remove Felix, June 4, 1994, a posthumous portrait of his partner, from the exhibition unless A Fire in My Belly is restored. The Calder Foundation rescinded a promised loan of a sculpture of Josephine Baker from an upcoming show of Calder portraits. The Mapplethorpe Foundation is the latest to make a symbolic gesture. Though it was widely reported that the foundation, like the Warhol Foundation, suspended future funding to the Smithsonian unless the Wojnarowicz went back on view, the reality is more nuanced—it had in fact announced its support of the Warhol Foundation’s position, but kept the question of future funding open. But earlier this month, when the Portrait Gallery requested permission to reproduce Mapplethorpe’s image of Roy Cohn—one of five works by the artist in the show—on a flyer announcing a gallery talk, the foundation declined. “We didn’t want to support any further use of the images that we had loaned in this iteration of the show,” says Foundation Manager Joree Adilman, referring to the banished video. “We’re not taking anything away—we just didn’t want to loan anything further.” 

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