Giving visitors an easy out is a disturbing move by the MFA
Re “Prepping for art of the provocative” by Malcolm Gay (Page A1, May 1) and “Guston show gives new entry points — and exits” by Murray Whyte (Sunday Arts): I am profoundly disturbed, to the point of outrage, when I read that there is a special exit provided at the Philip Guston exhibit that is opening at the Museum of Fine Arts, for attendees who might not want to enter the specific gallery that contains disturbing images of the KKK and perhaps other such infamous symbols of injustice and violence. Attendees who do not want to be troubled by such things.
As a person who, with my family, was a refugee from the Holocaust, I am saddened that Americans are assumed to be unable to deal with images and knowledge of past outrages. Immense suffering has been visited upon fellow human beings throughout history. To deny is to enable.
I could say more, but it has all been said before. Hasn’t it?
A ‘trauma specialist’? Museum is patronizing its audience
Malcolm Gay’s article highlighting the trauma specialist the MFA enlisted to guide decisions on the visitor experience might help sell tickets to the Philip Guston show, but it’s assisting museums in patronizing their audiences. Here in London, Black, brown, and white museumgoers are eagerly awaiting the ridiculously delayed exhibition because Guston is a fabulous, unique painter. A Guston retrospective was last held at the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 2004, and no one batted an eyelash over the KKK depictions. Nor should Black Lives Matter change that.
The trauma was Guston’s, too: He discovered the body of his father, a suicide, and a victim himself of racism.
Black lives always mattered to Guston, as his mural to raise money for the Scottsboro Boys trial, sadly defaced, and his Mexican mural in Morelia attest.
The writer is the film and arts critic for Bristol-based Highwood House Publishing in Britain.
Critic’s take on the exhibit is an artful introduction
When I was a kid growing up in a working-class family in the old part of Peabody, the writers of the Globe would often transport me to a different world with their insights and voice. Sometimes that other world was the sense of self and my place in our society that was emerging in me. Murray Whyte’s article in the Sunday Globe on the Philip Guston show at the MFA (“Guston show gives entry points — and exits”), with its crisp analysis and engaging writing, reminded me of those times.