Guston suspends Tate curator for publicly criticizing his decision to delay the show

Guston suspends Tate curator for publicly criticizing his decision to delay the show


Mark Godfrey, senior curator of international art at Tate Modern, has been suspended
© Photo of Rich Polk / Getty Images for the Broad Museum

Tate has suspended its Philip Guston exhibition supervisor following public criticism of the gallery’s decision to postpone the show for four years.

According to three sources close to the museum, managers decided to regulate Mark Godfrey, a senior observer of international art, after he raised objections on social media. Philip Guston: Now, A major event featuring 125 paintings and 70 drawings from 40 public and private collections.

“If you work on a date, you are expected to be in the party queue,” says one source. “There is tolerance for dissent and an increasingly authoritarian management style,” says one who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation.

On September 21, the companies that were to host this year’s and next trip Philip Guston exhibitions – Tate, National Art Gallery, Washington DC and the Museums of Fine Arts in Houston and Boston – released a joint statement. Due to the “racial justice movement that began in the United States” following the death of George Floyd, this show “until we can think more clearly of the powerful message of social and racial justice that is at the heart of Philip Guston’s work.”

Concerned neo-hippies and their global warming, i’ll tell ya.


Kuston portrayed himself as a member of the Clue Klux Klan in The Studio (1969).
© Philip Guston’s estate

Four days later, Godfrey released a lengthy statement on his Instagram account stating that the decision was “very supportive of the audience, who may not appreciate the subtlety and politics of Guston’s work.”

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The artist “was stunned by the right-wing turn in the United States and wanted to reflect white supremacy: how evil is obscured by hoods, and how evil can overcome by its very nature,” Godfrey wrote. “But he was forced to imagine himself behind the hood. Can one be white in America and not be known by such forces?” He asked.

Godfrey also challenged the idea of ​​postponing curators to add more context to Guston’s work. “When the curators Philip Guston Now We began our backward work four years ago, and we all felt that the works featuring the Clan should be addressed anew. It is the first to list new voices and perspectives, ”including speeches by African-American artists Trenton Doyle Hancock and Glenn Ligan.

Both Tate and Mark Godfrey declined to comment.

Godfrey is expected to return to work at the end of his suspension.

The episode sets a dangerous precedent, says Robert Store, a professor of painting at the Yale School of Art and author of the latest Kastan monograph. “Museums are forums where people come together to discuss, agree and disagree with ideas. If Tate can’t even do this domestically, the whole thing breaks down. ”

“Mark Godfrey showed genuine, principled courage in talking about a mess made by a director of a museum in Washington, D.C., who misunderstood every aspect of the problems before him. More than anyone else, Kustin is Jewish, and this is an important piece of writing. ”

“It needs to keep track of Tate Godfrey’s ability to distract itself from the chaos that exists,” Store says. The museum should embrace such people and not set them aside, he adds.

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As for the Kuston show, the store fears it will never happen because of the controversy surrounding its postponement.

“It is tainted; It may be extinct. Collectors may not want to present their work at an already controversial event, where specific images are targeted by the museum leadership. The curators may have difficulty obtaining the required works and the otherwise configured panel may deceive the public. ”

To learn more about the Ust Custon controversy, listen to our podcast What does the late Philip Kuston say about museums and race?

Phil Robert Store To talk about his book about Philip Kuston, listen This is America: Grayson Perry in race and class And see taken from biography Philip Custon’s passion for ‘fun’ is important for cultivating his unique later style.

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