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21 March 2018 @ 12:54 pm
Since I posted about the removal of Waterhouse's painting before, it's only fair to post a follow-up piece from the Guardian:

‘The vitriol was really unhealthy’: artist Sonia Boyce on the row over taking down Hylas and the Nymphs

The problem here, as I understand it from, y'know, the one article I read about this decision when it first happened, was that the museum was spectacularly unclear about whether the painting was being permanently removed, or whether it would only return if there were enough comments in favor of its reinstatement, or whether it was simply being removed for a certain amount of time. (Taking all the postcards of the painting out of the gift shop also didn't help here: is that part of whatever "artistic act" the removal is meant to be, or has the museum decided that the painting shouldn't be on display at all?)

I went back and reread the Guardian's first article about this*, and they may have a hand in the lack of clarity about the museum's intent, but it also sounds like the curator the reporter spoke to was unhelpfully cagey: while the article does say that "[t]he removal itself is an artistic act and will feature in a solo show by the artist Sonia Boyce which opens in March,"** Clare Gannaway, curator of contemporary art at the Manchester Art Gallery, is quoted as saying that the decision to remove the painting was informed by the #MeToo movement (which makes it sound much more like a rush job than something that had been in the works for some time), and then says of the painting itself, "We think it probably will return, yes, but hopefully contextualised quite differently. It is not just about that one painting, it is the whole context of the ["Pursuit of Beauty"] gallery.” If the plan was always to put the painting back up at a predetermined time, why not just say that - unless you're trying to stoke outrage? Why "probably," if you know you're planning to bring the painting back?

*located here: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2018/jan/31/manchester-art-gallery-removes-waterhouse-naked-nymphs-painting-prompt-conversation?CMP=share_btn_tw

**Even that doesn't help all that much, to be honest, because "the removal is an artistic act" does not equal "the painting will be put back up." In the comments to the later article (I know, I know, don't read the comments), someone posted a picture of the notice that was put up when the Waterhouse was taken down, and it's similarly unclear: there's a lot of talk about "filming an artistic takeover" of the gallery...but still nothing to tell the public whether the painting is ever being put back up, or whether another work will go up in its place.