The National Gallery of Art in Washington has axed two upcoming solo exhibitions following allegations of sexual misconduct against their artists, Chuck Close and Thomas Roma.
Close, a painter and photographer, is best-known for his close-up portraits of faces — many of them famous, such as Brad Pitt and Kate Moss. Roma, a photographer, taught at Columbia University until recently and focuses his work on scenes in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Both men have been subjects of recent misconduct allegations by multiple women.
Anabeth Guthrie, the National Gallery’s chief of communications, tells The Washington Post that it’s the first time the museum has canceled shows because of “public allegations against the featured artists.”
“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 told the newspaper. She confirmed the accuracy of the report to NPR’s Elizabeth Blair.
Close’s exhibition was scheduled to open in May, and Roma’s was slated for September. Information about the planned shows has been removed from the National Gallery’s website.
Close reportedly sexually harassed women who came to pose for him in his studio, according to reports published in The New York Times and Huffington Post. The allegations detail him unexpectedly asking multiple women to pose nude for him, in some cases asking intimate questions about personal grooming and making lewd comments about a woman’s vagina.
Close himself cast doubt on the accounts. “I never reduced anyone to tears, no one ever ran out of the place. If I embarrassed anyone or made them feel uncomfortable, I am truly sorry, I didn’t mean to. I acknowledge having a dirty mouth, but we’re all adults,” he told the Times.
Roma repeatedly made sexual advances on female students, according to five of his accusers who spoke on the record to the Times. The newspaper writes that a lawyer for Roma “disputes any suggestion that his behavior was ever coercive.”
As Elizabeth reported, “Roma retired from his position at Columbia the day after the Times report was published.”