On Thursday, one of the most complicated and divisive controversies in the art world in recent years came to close, with Warren B. Kanders resigning from his position as vice chair of the board of the Whitney Museum in New York after months of protests about his ownership of Safariland, a defense-manufacturing company.
“The targeted campaign of attacks against me and my company that has been waged these past several months has threatened to undermine the important work of the Whitney,” Kanders wrote in a letter to the board. “I joined this board to help the museum prosper. I do not wish to play a role, however inadvertent, in its demise.”
Protesters had taken issue with Safariland’s production of tear-gas canisters that had been used against protestors around the world, including, most recently, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and his stake in Sierra Bullets, which sells high-velocity ammunitions that have allegedly been used against Palestinian civilian protesters by Israeli soldiers in Gaza.
“Mr. Kanders did what he should’ve done in the beginning,” curator Dan Cameron told ARTnews. “The situation had been untenable for quite a while, and the artists were sending increasingly urgent signals to that effect to the museum. It seemed that the museum was being unresponsive.”
With Kanders now out, artists, activists, and other art figures are wondering what comes next. Which patrons might now become the focus of protests? Will museums will rethink their board membership policies? And how will the answers to those questions affect the funding and operation of museums?
For many who spoke with ARTnews, Kanders’s resignation is a sign of the shifting balance between museum boards and their critics, with protesters scoring a clear victory. Cameron tied the Kanders situation to the ongoing criticism of Sackler family and other controversial arts funders….
Read the full article at http://www.artnews.com/2019/07/26/warren-kanders-whitney-resignation-responses/