July 29, 1989 |
Outside, temperatures sizzled in the 90s, but the Capitol's worst heat wave this week occurred in the Senate chamber, where Jesse Helms blasted government funding for an exhibit of photography by the late Robert Mapplethorpe. "Immoral trash," the North Carolina Republican called the pictures. They were, he added, "vulgar," "sick" and "unspeakable portrayals which I cannot describe on the floor of the Senate. " But the more Helms huffed, the more people flocked to a gallery at Seventh and D Streets Northwest, a few blocks from the Capitol, to see the work that caused the congressional ruckus.
August 8, 1989
HELMS' RULES FOR ARTS FUNDING ARE OMINOUS In a country that prides itself on the right to free speech, I wonder what happened to the idea of disagreeing with what one says but defending to the death his or her right to say it, paint it, sing it, dance it or photograph it. Shame on the Senate for approving a measure to ban federal support to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia for organizing and exhibiting the Robert Mapplethorpe show....
April 20, 1990 |
The flier for the Art at the Armory 1990 show at the 103rd Armory next week carries a most tantalizing tagline: "See the art that the Philadelphia Museum dares not show you!" What have we here? Something racier than the Robert Mapplethorpe photos that scandalized Cincinnati (but didn't raise an eyebrow here)? Something even more provocative than the Rocky statue? You'll have to go to find out. Even the organizers don't have a clue. "We don't really know what's going to be in the show until we see the show," said photographer Joan Smith.
October 7, 1990 |
Don't ask artists in Montgomery County if they plan to let the threat of censorship or the proclamations of North Carolina senator Jesse Helms affect their art work. Some may be very insulted by the mere suggestion. But most of the members of the Artists Cultural Exchange (ACX) will answer that question with the triumphant exclamation, "No way," as they did Thursday when they leaped from their chairs in a moment of passion. In fact, just the mention of Helms, greeted with hisses and boos, was enough to incite the 30 members of the ACX who met Thursday in Elkins Park to discuss the ban on obscenity that Helms introduced in the U.S. Senate last year.
August 1, 1990 |
It began quietly in Philadelphia only a year and a half ago. But since then, the life of "Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment" has been less than perfectly harmonious. Last summer, the exhibition of photographs, organized by the University of Pennsylvania's Institute of Contemporary Art, was scuttled by the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington. Then various congressmen, led by Sen. Jesse Helms (R., N.C.), decided that the exhibit was obscene because a handful of the more than 120 photographs contained graphic homoerotic images or showed child nudity.
July 28, 1989
Granted, this is not just a case of a fig leaf over intimate parts or bowdlerizing song lyrics. A lot of Robert Mapplethorpe's photographs are - by most people's standards - gross and offensive. But nobody was forced to see Mapplethorpe's stuff when it was on exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia and the Art Institute of Chicago. Nobody would have been forced to see it if it had been exhibited at Corcoran Gallery in Washington, but the Corcoran canceled the exhibit for fear of endangering funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.
August 20, 1989 |
If you are waiting for the controversial Robert Mapplethorpe traveling photography exhibition to show up at the Chadds Ford Gallery on Routes 1 and 100 in Chadds Ford, don't hold your breath. That's the word from Barbara Moore, director of the gallery, which is dominated by the realistic art (including nudes) of Andrew Wyeth. Photographs of sexual subjects, including homosexuality and sadomasochism, are not the sort of thing that art lovers have come to expect at the famous gallery, she said.
July 31, 1989
Members of Congress have found another small item on which to spend an inordinate amount of time and rhetoric. They have been waxing apoplectic about $30,000 in federal arts funding for an exhibit of photographs by the late Robert Mapplethorpe organized by the University of Pennsylvania's Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA). Their outrage is understandable: One of the photos was of a man urinating into another man's mouth; another of a whip in a man's anus. A $15,000 grant to photographer Andres Serrano, now notorious for his shot of a crucifix in urine, is also getting panned.
September 28, 1990 |
As we all know, there are two great problems facing Humankind today - the federal deficit and dirty pictures in Cincinnati. In order of importance: Dirty Pictures in Cincinnati - The director of a Cincinnati museum, Dennis Barrie, is going to trial this week for "pandering obscenity" in exhibiting the work of the late Robert Mapplethorpe, a photographer whose work begins where whoopee leaves off. The photos in question depict, among other...