A few days after President Trump signed an executive order barring citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States, the Museum of Modern Art in New York responded by hanging work by artists from those countries. Now the Davis Museum at Wellesley College in Massachusetts is staging a protest of its own, saying that, from February 16 to 21, it will remove works created by, or given to the museum by, immigrants to the U.S.
The Davis has termed the initiative Art-Less, and it will result in about 120 works—around 20 percent of the collection on view, according to the museum—being either deinstalled or shrouded for those six days. A full list of works, which includes paintings by Willem de Kooning and Hans Hoffman, as well as a portrait of President George Washington by the Swedish artist Adolf Ulrik Wertmüller, is embedded below.
“We decided we needed to do something and we needed to do something quickly, to respond to the anxieties and concerns that everyone is feeling,” the museum’s director, Lisa Fischman, said in a telephone interview this morning. The initiative, she continued, aims to highlight “what immigrants have brought to us.”
The works temporarily off view will be labeled with a note that they were either given by an immigrant or made by an immigrant, Fischman said, and that the Boston firm Stoltze Design had created that signage pro bono.
The museum said a news release that the move is in support of a statement issued by the Association of Art Museum Directors on January 30 that read, in part, “We are deeply concerned that with the current executive order, artistic and scholarly collaborations could now be in jeopardy, just at the moment when cultural exchange and understanding are more important than ever.” That order is, for the moment, not in effect, as the result of court action, though the White House has said it is mulling a new executive order.