A petition calling for the destruction of a white artist’s painting of Emmett Till that is currently on display at the Whitney Biennial has been taken down.
Dana Schutz’s painting of the murdered black teenager, titled "Open Casket", has been caught in the whirlwind of controversy ever since it went on display last week. The painting depicts Till’s damaged face as seen in photographs of his open-casket funeral service. In a statement, Schutz said she painted the picture in August 2016 “after a long, violent summer of mass shootings, rallies filled with hate speech, and an ever-escalating number of camera phone videos of black men being shot execution style by police.”
Calls to take the painting down were swift, with many complaining that the exhibit exploited the black experience for pleasure and profit.
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British artist Hannah Black launched a petition calling on the Whitney to remove and destroy the painting on Monday, saying that it is “not acceptable for a white person to transmute Black suffering into profit and fun.”
The Daily Beast is now reporting that the petition was taken down from Facebook on Thursday. When the publication reached out to Black for comment, she said she would not be offering any statements to the press.
Since the initial controversy, the topic of the painting has been debated in spaces like The View and even garnered comments from prominent black artists like Kara Walker, the Huffington Post reports.
An Instagram post by Walker on Thursday, offered a defense of Schutz’s work. “Painting ― [sic] and a lot of art often lasts longer than the controversies that greet it. I say this as a shout to every artist and artwork that gives rise to vocal outrage. Perhaps it too gives rise to deeper inquiries and better art. It can only do this when it is seen.”