Ocula Magazine   |   News   |   Artists   |   Kehinde Wiley Follow

The National Coalition Against Censorship said the artist's work should be shown, despite multiple accusations of sexual misconduct against him.

Anti-Censorship Group Alarmed by Kehinde Wiley Cancellations

Exhibition view: Kehinde Wiley, An Archeology of Silence, de Young, San Francisco (18 March–15 October 2023). Photo: Gary Sexton.

The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), a New York-based nonprofit supporting free speech, has released a statement in defence of American artist Kehinde Wiley, who had three museum exhibitions cancelled or postponed after recent accusations of sexual assault.

Last month on Instagram, Ghanaian artist and curator Joseph Awuah-Darko claimed Wiley assaulted him twice in 2021. Wiley responded on the platform, sharing private messages between the two and portraying the accusations as a 'reckless smear campaign' by a jilted lover.

Shortly after, activist Derrick Ingram accused Wiley of raping him at his New York apartment in 2021, and writer Nathaniel Lloyd Richards told Hyperallergic the artist groped his knee and thigh on a 2019 dinner date.

NCAC acknowledged that the allegations against the artist are 'serious and concerning' and should not be excused by Wiley's stature, but said they are 'alarmed' by the decision of museums to abandon his shows.

'Museums are not equipped or mandated to be enforcers of moral orthodoxy,' the organisation said, urging the three institutions—Pérez Art Museum Miami, Minneapolis Museum of Art (Mia), and Joslyn Art Museum—to reconsider their decision.

According to the NCAC, such a response not only disservices audiences wanting 'to experience the work of one of the nation's most well-recognised artists', but establishes an implied practice of 'scrutinising the personal conduct of all exhibiting artists' that goes beyond museum policy.

Kehinde Wiley. Exhibition view: Kehinde Wiley, An Archeology of Silence, de Young, San Francisco (18 March–15 October 2023). Photo: Gary Sexton.

Kehinde Wiley. Exhibition view: Kehinde Wiley, An Archeology of Silence, de Young, San Francisco (18 March–15 October 2023). Photo: Gary Sexton.

Wiley's travelling survey, An Archeology of Silence—a collateral event at last year's Venice Biennale that later showed at Musée d'Orsay in Paris—opened at de Young museum in San Francisco last March, supported by a U.S. $1 million grant from Google.org.

The exhibition, a meditation on police violence and state control on Black and Brown bodies, was to conclude at Minneapolis Institute of Art in March 2025 after showing at Perez Museum of Art in Miami this July.

'Mia was considering taking the Kehinde Wiley exhibition, but as a result of these unfortunate allegations we will not be proceeding with this presentation,' a museum representative told Ocula. The institution claims the exhibition dates (found on the artist's website) had yet to be set. Perez Museum of Art and Joslyn Art Museum did not provide comments.

'Museums risk a dramatic reduction in the complexity and quantity of art eligible for exhibition when they apply a moral litmus test to artists,' the NCAC said.

Backing Wiley's right to exhibit, the organisation cited artists across time who had shown moral flaws, including Caravaggio ('a murderer'), Picasso ('emotionally and sexually abusive'), T.S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf ('antisemites'), and David Bowie ('allegedly had sex with minors').

The association urged museums 'to adopt clear free speech guidelines for future exhibitions'.

'Any such guidelines should align with their institutional missions, uphold artistic freedom, and demonstrate respect for the critical capacities of the audiences they serve,' they said.

Awuah-Darko, meanwhile, has accused Wiley of 'victim shaming' and said he stands by the accusations against him. —[O]

Ocula discover the best in contemporary art icon.
Ocula discover the best in contemporary art icon.
Follow Kehinde Wiley
Stay ahead.
Receive updates on new artworks,
exhibitions and articles.
Your personal data is held in accordance with our privacy policy.
Follow
Do you have an Ocula account?
Ocula discover the best in contemporary art icon.
Get Access
Join Ocula to request price and availability of artworks, exhibition price lists and build a collection of favourite artists, galleries and artworks.
Do you have an Ocula account? Login
What best describes your interest in art?

Subscribe to our newsletter for upcoming exhibitions, available works, events and more.
By clicking Sign Up or Continue with Facebook or Google, you agree to Ocula's Terms & Conditions. Your personal data is held in accordance with our Privacy Policy.
Thank you for joining us. Just one more thing...
Soon you will receive an email asking you to complete registration. If you do not receive it then you can check and edit the email address you entered.
Close
Thank you for joining us.
You can now request price and availability of artworks, exhibition price lists and build a collection of favourite artists, galleries and artworks.
Close
Welcome back to Ocula
Enter your email address and password below to login.
Reset Password
Enter your email address to receive a password reset link.
Reset Link Sent
We have sent you an email containing a link to reset your password. Simply click the link and enter your new password to complete this process.
Login