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National Gallery Cancels Chuck Close Show Following Sexual Harassment Allegations

The National Gallery of Art, in Washington, DC, has canceled solo exhibitions by painter Chuck Close and photographer Thomas Roma due to recent sexual misconduct claims against the artists, according to the Washington Post. The Close exhibition was expected to open on May 13, and the Roma was scheduled for September. Anabeth Guthrie, the museum’s chief of communications, said that this is the first time the National Gallery has called off a show because of public accusations against an artist. “Given the recent attention on their personal lives, we discussed postponement of the installations with each artist. All parties involved acknowledged that it is not the appropriate time to present these installations,” Guthrie said in an email to the Post.

Allegations that Close sexually harassed women in his studio were first reported by Priscilla Frank of the Huffington Post last December. Close’s lawyer, Lance Gotko, denied that any sexual acts took place. Earlier this month, Roma resigned from Columbia University, where he taught photography, after five women who spoke to the New York Times accused him of sexual misconduct.

“In the Tower: Chuck Close” would have included thirty works, mostly from the museum’s collection. The Roma exhibition would have highlighted two dozen recently acquired works. In November, the museum received eighty-seven images from Roma’s series “Come Sunday,” 1991–94, which depicts different religious services in Brooklyn. The National Gallery has not yet decided what will replace these exhibitions.