After COVID Delay, Controversial Philip Guston Exhibit Opens in BostonBreaking News
tags: art, art history, Philip Guston
America’s most controversial art exhibition debuts–again–this time May 1 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Originally planned to open in June of 2020 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., “Philip Guston Now” was initially postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was further shelved in the wake of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police and subsequent nationwide protests for racial equality.
Guston’s later work included blunt images of hooded Ku Klux Klan figures as the artist interrogated his role as a white man–and more broadly all of white America’s complicity–in the nation’s never-ending abuse of minorities. In the hands of all-white curatorial staffs, the exhibition’s organizing institutions decided to shelf the presentation until it could be more thoroughly informed by a greater diversity of expert opinions before going on public display.
Others viewed the postponement as cowardice and censorship; the debate raged well outside the insular halls of art museums.
Boston was originally scheduled to bat cleanup on the exhibition tour which also includes Houston and London in addition to the nation’s capital; instead, it will lead off. Still early in its preparation for the show when tabbed to go first, MFA officials were more easily able to adjust for contemporary sensitivities than had they been deep into their planning for the presentation.
“The exhibition has significantly evolved over the last year with a more diversified approach to interpretation, more historical references, and inclusion of more artists’ perspectives, led by an expanded curatorial team and guided by many voices—all of whom have helped us to create a fuller understanding of this great artist’s work,” Matthew Teitelbaum, Ann and Graham Gund Director at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, said in a statement announcing the exhibition.