A painting of old white men smoking cigars by acclaimed contemporary Dutch painter Rein Dool has been taken down at Leiden University in the Netherlands, reportedly the result of a complaint by a single female grad student.
Dutch News reported that the painting, which depicts university board members from the mid-1970s, “was taken off the wall following a remark by political scientist Elina Zorina on Twitter,” in which she suggested the painting “needed an ‘ironic or critical’ explanatory note.” Zorina is a PhD candidate at the school’s Institute of Political Science, according to the university’s website.
The now 90-year-old artist is still proud of the painting, made in the mid-1970s, which he says is “one of his best works.” The picture shows the then board of Leiden University as Dool observed them at the time, including Dolf Cohen, a former rector who survived World War II by going into hiding.
Dool thinks the removal of the canvas “incredibly narrow-minded” and finds it “very strange” that no one from the university has contacted him.
A Leiden University spokesperson claims that no decision has yet been made about what will happen to the painting going forward. The university claims that there have been several comments and complaints about the painting going back to 2011, and notes that complainants feel “unrepresented” by the work depicting six white men. (And…egads!...cigars.)
Works of art are getting cancelled now because one person—or an immeasurably tiny minority at most—objects to them?
Artist Rein Dool’s painting wouldn’t have irked “political scientist” Elina Zorina if it depicted six Black people smoking pot…or six transgender drag queens ingesting magic mushrooms. Though that could have made me feel “unrepresented” and marginalized. (Okay, not really, but you get my point.)
By this standard, every painting would have to include every race, gender, religion, vice, etc., etc., or it could a priori offend someone or some group. And of course, doing so is impossible. Although, in the hyper-woke environment in which we now live, perhaps a painting of transgender Marxists hosting a drag queen story hour at an abortion clinic might be acceptable.
If we keep going down this road, the writing will be on the wall…but paintings won’t be.
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