*Chuck Close / by Clarissa Gonzalez

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I'm writing in response to the New York Times and Huffington Post articles concern the response of sexual harassment accusations directed towards Chuck Close.

Back in December, HuffPost posted an article stating the sexual harassment accusations against Chuck Close. Since then eight women have spoken up stating that Close told them to get naked during modelling sessions. 

Since then the exhibit of Close's work at the National Portrait Gallery set to open in April has been indefinitely postponed.  His current exhibit at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts has not been taken down, but after the deliberation of the Academy, they have opened an adjacent exhibit concern issues of sexual harassment. 

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The New York Times posed the question of whether an asterisk should be put next to Chuck Close's name when presenting this work.  The article compared it to the asterisk placed next to Floyd Mayweather, Jr's portrait hanging in the National Portrait Gallery. Which states his domestic violence charges on the description card.  The article continues on saying that this is typical when describing the subject matter of an art piece but not necessarily for the artist.

This is beyond just putting an asterisk next to Chuck Close's name.  For centuries artists, such as Picasso and Schiele (both whom are well known for mistreating women) have shown in museums and institutions for a very long time without asterisks next to their names. Do museums and art institutions have the right to state what is right and what is wrong with culture? To put their opinions on the description card? While yes it is easy as a society to say that being a sexual harasser is wrong (and that SHOULD NOT change), I think of Adolf Hitler's Degenerate Art Show, and the xenophobia currently felt by too many Americans. That makes me think, that maybe institutions should not state their opinion on works or artists. 

Many curators also feel that they shouldn't put asterisks on the works. However others feel differently. Performance artist, Emma Sulkowicz (who uses the gender-neutral pronoun, they) is one of these people. Sulkowicz is known for carrying their dormitory mattress across campus until their accused rapist was expelled from Columbia University. They both graduated together in 2015. On January 30th, Sulkowicz silently protested in front of Close's work in New York but standing, in black underwear, high heels, asterisks over their nipples, and asterisks drawn on their body.  The asterisks are in direct response to the New York Times article from a few days before.

 SANGSUK SYLVIA KANG  Performance artist Emma Sulkowicz protests Chuck Close’s artwork in the 86th Street subway station in New York by providing their own asterisks on Jan. 30.  Huffington Post

SANGSUK SYLVIA KANG

Performance artist Emma Sulkowicz protests Chuck Close’s artwork in the 86th Street subway station in New York by providing their own asterisks on Jan. 30. Huffington Post

Sculkowicz speaks on the behalf of the survivors and against the masculinity of the museum space.

Either way, Chuck Close is just the beginning. The #MeToo movement has a potential effect on the museum scene, and I'm interested to see what is too come.