New York art world bitterly subdivided over cultural appropriation of 1955 photograph of murdered 14 -year-old Emmett Till
It is one of the most powerful images to emerge from the racism that infected the southern governments of America in the 1950 s the photograph of a badly beaten 14 -year-old boy, lynched after being falsely accused of committing flirting with a white female, lying in a funeral casket.
Now demonstrations over a painting based on the photograph, included in a New York museum show, are dividing the citys art world amid claims of racist exploitation and censorship.
At the centre of the duel over cultural appropriation is artist Dana Schutzs expressionist painting Open Casket ( 2016 ), a gruesome depiction of Emmett Till, lynched in Mississippi in 1955.
The painting, on display at the Whitney Biennial exhibition, initially described swift disapproval from critics who claimed Schutz, who is white, was taking advantage of a defining moment in African American history.
Against a backdrop of increasing anxiety over artistic censorship and de-funding of the arts under the Trump administration, Schutzs critics faced a onslaught of allegations of censorship. Marilyn Minter, a leading liberal and feminist voice on the New York artworks scene, posted on Facebook: The art world thinks Dana Schutz is the enemy? The left is feeing its young again. Censorship from the left genuinely sucks!
Painter Kara Walker noted that paintings last longer than the dispute they can make. I say this as a holler[ out] to every artist and artwork that gives rise to vocal outrage. Perhaps it too gives rise to deeper inquiries and better art. It can only do this when it is seen.
Writer Gary Indiana called an open letterfrom Black, signed by more than two dozen other African American artists or art-world workers, cliche-riddled, race-baiting demagoguery.
Schutz, 40, told the website Artnet that she made the painting in response to the police shootings of unarmed black humankinds over the summer of 2016. Its a problematic painting, and I knew that getting into it.