Minneapolis Institute of Art Cancels Kehinde Wiley Show amid Allegations of Sexual Assault [Updated]

The Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) has canceled its iteration of a traveling survey dedicated to artist Kehinde Wiley, who is currently facing allegations of sexual assault. The museum’s decision came hours after the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska, reportedly said it would postponed a show featuring Wiley’s work that was set to open in September.

The traveling exhibition, subtitled “An Archaeology of Silence,” debuted at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in March 2023. The exhibition next traveled to the Museum of Fine Art, Houston, where it opened in November 2023 and closed on May 27 of this year.

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According to Wiley’s website and the Art Newspaper, the exhibition would then go to the Pérez Art Museum Miami with run dates between July 2024 and January 2025, meaning it would be on view during Art Basel Miami Beach, and finally to the Minneapolis Institute of Art, where it was to open in February 2025.

In a statement to ARTnews, the Minnesota museum said, “Mia was considering taking the Kehinde Wiley exhibition, but as a result of these unfortunate allegations we will not be proceeding with this presentation.”

A Pérez Art Museum Miami spokesperson said the institution had also put its iteration of the show on hold.

Wiley said in a statement to ARTnews, “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. These allegations are completely false, raising more questions about their credibility and motivation than there are facts supporting their authenticity.”

A Kehinde Wiley show due to open at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska, this September has also been quietly postponed as the artist faces allegations of sexual assault from multiple men.

In the past few weeks, Wiley, a painter widely known for creating Barack Obama’s official portrait, has faced accusations of rape. Those claims have been posted to Instagram by people including artist Joseph Awuah-Darko and activist Derrick Ingram, who have said they plan a class-action lawsuit against Wiley in New York.

Wiley has denied these allegations, saying that he had encounters with Awuah-Darko and Ingram while also claiming that they were consensual. (The artist said he had never met a third accuser, Terrell Armistead.) Wiley called the allegations against him “baseless and defamatory.”

The Joslyn’s Wiley show was to feature a new series of portraits that a release from February described as being “specific to the diverse communities of Omaha.” The exhibition was slated to open in September, when the museum itself will reopen following renovation and expansion. It has been closed since 2022 for that project.

On Wednesday, the Flatwater Free Press reported that the exhibition would no longer open this year, although it was not clear whether the allegations against Wiley played a role in the postponement. A spokesperson for the museum told that publication “we are revisiting our exhibition schedule.”

“We are working with The Joslyn Art Museum to find a new date that works with their revised exhibition schedule,” Georgia Harrell, a spokesperson for Kehinde Wiley, told ARTnews.

A representative for the Joslyn Art Museum did not respond to an ARTnews request for comment.

Update, 6/13/24, 6:10 p.m.: A statement from Wiley has been added to this article.

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