Not to mention religion.

Below is an excerpt from the New York Times Arts Beat Blog, a response to the Smithsonian’s recent excision of the late David Wojnarowicz’s (pictured above) work from their current exhibition, after harassment from the head of the Catholic League and a few bullying Republican Congressmen.  Bravo to Wachs and his board–we cannot allow politics to dictate what people can, and can’t see. And shame on the Smithsonian for such cowardice.

DECEMBER 13, 2010, 3:18 PM

Warhol Foundation Threatens to End Financing of Smithsonian Exhibitions


The Andy Warhol Foundation is threatening to stop its financing of Smithsonian Institution exhibitions if the institution does not restore a work of art that was removed from an exhibition after it drew attacks by the head of the Catholic League and some Republican members of Congress. The Warhol Foundation gave $100,000 to the Smithsonian for the exhibition, “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture,” at the National Portrait Gallery, from which the work was removed.

In a letter sent on Monday to the head of the Smithsonian, G. Wayne Clough, Joel Wachs, the president of the Warhol Foundation, said that the foundation’s board voted unanimously on Friday to demand that the Smithsonian restore the work, an excerpt of a video by the artist David Wojnarowicz, to the exhibition or the foundation would reject any future grant requests.

“I regret that you have put us in this position, but there is no other course we can take,” Mr. Wachs wrote in the letter, which the foundation also sent to news organizations. “For the arts to flourish the arts must be free, and the decision to censor this important work is in stark opposition to our mission to defend freedom of expression wherever and whenever it is under attack.”

A spokeswoman for the Smithsonian, Linda St. Thomas, said that she did not know if Mr. Clough had seen the letter yet, but “as far as I know we are not putting the video back and we are not changing anything else in the exhibition.”

The video by Mr. Wojnarowicz, “A Fire in My Belly,” was pulled from the exhibition two weeks ago on Mr. Clough’s orders after the head of the Catholic League, Bill Donohue, described it as hateful to Catholics because it includes an image of ants crawling over a crucifix. House Republicans condemned the exhibition as an “outrageous use of taxpayer money.”

In the last three years the Warhol Foundation has given a total of $375,000 for various Smithsonian exhibitions including, in addition to “Hide/Seek,” the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s Yves Klein and Anne Truitt exhibitions, and an exhibition of the art of William T. Wiley at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

“We felt it was really necessary to take this strong step, and we are going to back it,” Mr. Wachs said in a telephone interview. “I’m hopeful that others will follow suit.”