Seattle University recently removed Self-Portrait 2000 by Chuck Close, an estimated (pre-allegation) value of $35,000, from the second floor of its Lemieux Library. In light of the sexual misconduct accusations from women who modeled for him, The National Gallery cancelled Close’s solo exhibition along with an exhibit by photographer Thomas Roma, who also stands accused of misconduct, though The National Gallery gave a statement to the Washington Post that described it, not as cancelled, but postponed:
Given the recent attention on their personal lives, we discussed postponement of the installations with each artist…it is not the appropriate time to present these installations.
When will the appropriate time come around to present these works? How long does Seattle University have to keep Self-Portrait 2000 in storage before it can be hung again? We have a notoriously short attention span when it comes to scandals and misconduct by public figures, giving this removal an inevitable temporality. I say either burn it all or hang it back up—and cannot help but remind you, Degas used to touch the young girls he painted and is often described in history books as "haunting" and "stalking’" them. His work is still displayed everywhere.
The Seattle University administration, who removed the Close work, sent this e-mail to SU's library's staff:
Right before the Break, it was reported in The New York Times, HuffPost, as well as other sources, that accusations of sexual harassment had been levied against Chuck Close. Several women complained that the celebrated artist, known for his outsize portraits, asked them to pose naked and made inappropriate sexual comments. The artist apologized, and further news sources covered that apology.
Given escalating developments regarding sexual harassment and sexual misconduct scandals, Melissa and I discussed our options regarding the Chuck Close self-portrait. The self-portrait hung, as you all know, in a prominent highly trafficked location – the 2nd floor lobby, across from the spiral staircase. We were concerned about potential student, faculty or staff reaction to seeing the self-portrait, and decided that the prudent and proactive course of action would be to replace the self-portrait with another work. We checked in with Fr. Lucas, and as you’ll see today, the self-portrait has been replaced by an oil, mixed media on canvas by Linda Stojak. Fr. Lucas notes that the piece was a gift of Jon Shirley.