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Following Alleged Censorship of Mapplethorpe Show, Collector Seeks Termination of 700-Work Loan to Serralves Museum

Luiz Augusto Teixeira de Freitas.

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At the Vienna Contemporary art fair this past weekend, collector Luiz Augusto Teixeira de Freitas said he is seeking the termination of his loan of 700 drawings to the Serralves Foundation Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto, Portugal. The Portuguese newspaper Publico reported the news on Saturday after collector Alain Servais tweeted about Teixeira de Freitas’s talk at the fair. According to the Publico report, Teixeira de Freitas has loaned works by Gabriel Orozco, Mark Lombardi, Julião Sarmento, and others to the museum.

Reached by ARTnews, Teixeira de Freitas confirmed he had sent a letter to the museum about terminating the loan in response to the ongoing controversy over the museum’s current Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition, “Pictures,” which some have alleged was censored. The collector declined to add further comment, however, because he was awaiting a response to his letter from the Serralves Foundation. The museum also declined to comment.

The museum’s Mapplethorpe show has come under fire because the 159-work exhibition was to have initially been larger—20 more photographs were expected to appear in the show, and they were removed for reasons that remain unclear. One day after the show opened, the museum’s director, João Ribas, resigned, causing some to circulate an open letter that accused the museum of altering the show “against the will” of the director.

Reports in Spanish and Portuguese publications have attributed Ribas’s resignation to a disclaimer that the museum’s board allegedly ordered to be placed in galleries where some of the exhibition’s more sexually explicit works appear. Ahead of the show, Ribas said in interviews that he wanted these works—some of which feature S&M imagery—to be interspersed throughout the exhibition. Ana Pinho, the foundation’s president, has denied that the museum censored the show and that a disclaimer had always been planned.

Teixeira de Freitas is a lawyer based in Portugal. His collection of more than 1,000 works focuses on art of the 1960s and ’70s as well as emerging artists. His Lisbon-based law firm has helped back the exhibition program of the Kunsthalle Lisbon since 2012.

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