Museum Calls Off Kehinde Wiley Show, Citing Assault Allegations


The Minneapolis Institute of Art announced Thursday that it had decided not to move forward with a planned Kehinde Wiley exhibition, citing recent allegations of sexual misconduct against the artist, which he has denied.

The exhibition, called “An Archaeology of Silence,” originated at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and has been traveling around the country.

The Minneapolis museum put plans to stage the exhibition on hold after several men made accusations against Mr. Wiley, all of which he has denied. The first was in May, when an artist accused him of sexual assault in a post on Instagram. Mr. Wiley denied the allegations at the time, saying that “these claims are not true and are an affront to all victims of sexual abuse.”

The Minneapolis Institute of Art said in an email that it “was considering taking the Kehinde Wiley exhibition, but as a result of these unfortunate allegations we will not be proceeding with this presentation.”

It was not the only museum to distance itself from Mr. Wiley, a hugely successful artist who gained fame when he painted the 2018 portrait of President Barack Obama for the National Portrait Gallery in Washington. Shortly after Minneapolis made its announcement, the Pérez Art Museum Miami said that it had “suspended plans” to host the traveling show, but did not offer any reason.

Mr. Wiley once again denied the accusations in a statement on Thursday.

“It is disappointing that this social media-driven fabrication is distracting from the goal of the tour: shedding light on the inequities Black and Brown people face in our society,” he said in an emailed statement. “These allegations are completely false, raising more questions about their credibility and motivation than there are facts supporting their authenticity.”

The furor around Mr. Wiley began last month when Joseph Awuah-Darko, a British-born Ghanaian artist, said in an Instagram post that, in 2021, Mr. Wiley assaulted him twice during and after a dinner in Ghana that was held in the painter’s honor. Mr. Awuah-Darko told The New York Times that he had begun a consensual sexual encounter with Mr. Wiley, but the painter eventually forced himself on Mr. Awuah-Darko.

This week, another man said in an Instagram post that Mr. Wiley had assaulted him.

On Monday, Derrick Ingram, an activist who helped organize New York’s Black Lives Matter protests, said that in September 2021, Mr. Wiley raped and sexually assaulted him. In a telephone interview, Mr. Ingram said that he had a brief relationship with Mr. Wiley during which time the assault occurred. Mr. Ingram said that he could not detail the incidents because he was seeking legal advice.

On Tuesday, Mr. Wiley denied Mr. Ingram’s accusation in his own lengthy Instagram post, saying the pair had a “brief consensual encounter” after which Mr. Ingram sent him texts asking to see him again. “What is motivating these individuals to hurl these disgusting accusations?” Mr. Wiley said. “What is clear is that my accusers wanted far more than I was willing to give them,” he added.

Jennifer Barrett, an attorney representing Mr. Wiley, said in an email that the artist intended to “pursue every avenue available to him, legal and otherwise, to defend his reputation.”

The traveling exhibition was not the only show of Mr. Wiley’s paintings that has been postponed. On Thursday, the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Neb., said it was “revisiting” its schedule and would not open “Kehinde Wiley: Omaha,” a planned exhibition of portraits of the city’s residents. “The Joslyn will announce any updates at a later date,” a spokeswoman said in an email, declining further comment.

A spokesman for Mr. Wiley said in an email that the artist’s team was “working with the Joslyn Art Museum to find a new date that works with their revised exhibition schedule.”

Thomas Campbell, the director and chief executive of the Fine Art Museums of San Francisco, where the bigger Wiley show originated, said in an email: “We are grateful to the many visitors who have engaged with ‘An Archaeology of Silence.’ We respect the decisions of the Pérez Museum and the MIA.”





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