The Ministry of Artistic Affairs
Monday, December 20, 2010

The National Portrait Gallery in Washington will not comply with an artist’s request that it remove a work of his from the exhibition “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture,” the gallery’s spokeswoman said Monday afternoon. The artist, AA Bronson, asked last week that the gallery remove from the show his photograph “Felix, June 5, 1994,” which shows the body of Mr. Bronson’s partner shortly after he died of AIDS, to protest the removal of another work after it was criticized by members of the religious right and some congressional Republicans.

Mr. Bronson’s photograph is on loan to “Hide/Seek” from the National Gallery of Canada. On Friday Marc Mayer, the director of the Canadian museum, urged the National Portrait Gallery to respect Mr. Bronson’s wishes and remove the work but did not formally demand its return.

Mr. Bronson responded to the gallery’s decision on Monday with a strongly worded e-mail to Martin E. Sullivan, the director of the National Portrait Gallery.

“My lawyer suggests that, according to my moral rights under copyright law in both Canada and the U.S.A., I have the right to withdraw my work from ‘Hide/Seek,’ ” he wrote in the e-mail, which he also sent to journalists. “Please remove my work from the exhibition immediately.”

On Nov. 30 the National Portrait Gallery, acting on the orders of the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, G. Wayne Clough, removed an AIDS-themed video by the artist David Wojnarowicz from “Hide/Seek.” The video includes an image of ants crawling on a crucifix and was criticized by the president of the Catholic League, Bill Donohue, and some House Republicans.

Seen on the NY Times.