As Tyler Green reported at ARTINFO, artist A.A. Bronson has asked that the National Portrait Gallery return his work, Felix, June 5, 1994, on view in the “Hide/Seek” exhibit. This is a notable development because Bronson’s stark, large-scale print occupies a significant place in the exhibition layout. It’s also noteworthy because the National Portrait Gallery said no.
We’re all spared from the prospect of a North American standoff: The National Gallery of Canada will not formally ask the National Portrait Gallery to return Bronson’s work, according to National Gallery of Canada director Marc Meyer.
“I don’t feel that the free exchange of works between public institutions should be politicized. It really has to be an extreme circumstance to pull a loan,” says Meyer. “The work has to be in peril.”
However, Ottawa is “informally” asking the museum to respect Bronson’s wishes, according to the director.
Meyer said that he conveyed to National Portrait Gallery director Martin Sullivan that Bronson feels he is being misrepresented and that he does not want to appear in the show as an accessory to censorship.
In turn, the Smithsonian is “informally” saying “no.”
Smithsonian spokesperson Linda St. Thomas said that the Smithsonian’s Office of the Secretary will not consider reinstating David Wojnarowicz’s A Fire in My Belly because “that decision has already been made.”