Through Art Market & You, Art From Us provides you Analysis, Opinion and Factual Reports regarding the current on-goings of the Global Art Market. In this article, we explore Warren Kanders’ exit from the Whitney Museum.
The Whitney Biennale is just around the corner. But there is a petition doing to rounds, demanding the removal of Warren Kanders as vice chairman of the Museum’s board. The petition has already been signed by various groups of artists, critics, staff members and scholars.
Accountability in the Art World : Warren Kanders
Kanders is the owner of Safariland, a company that manufactures defense weapons. Controversially, tear gas produced by the company was used in December 2018 by American immigration officers. This was following a clash at the US-Mexico border.
In his defense, Kanders wrote an open letter in 2018. He explained that the two enterprises in question are independent of one another. He said:
“While my company and the museum have distinct missions, both are important
contributors to our society. This is why I believe that the politicization of every aspect of public life, including commercial organizations and cultural institutions, is not productive or healthy.”
This isn’t the first time in the recent past that people have taken it upon themselves to keep art ‘clean’. Protests against Warren Kanders take place in the wake of the recent ostracisation of members from the Sackler Trust. The Sacklers have been accused of fueling the opioid epidemic in America. Also, last year several New York based museums refused to accept money linked to the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. This was due to his alleged involvement in the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
As museums, artists and collectors wake up and begin to ask pertinent questions about leadership and funding, we wonder what other dirt may be discovered beneath the surface.
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