- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Guggenheim Museum in New York City says it’s pulling three artworks that depict animals from an upcoming exhibit due to “explicit and repeated threats of violence.”

The museum said Monday that it was “dismayed” the artworks had to be censored from the exhibit “Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World,” to open Oct. 6, but said the intensifying backlash over the works posed a significant safety threat.

A petition launched last week claiming that the artworks — “Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other” (2003), “Theater of the World” (1993), and “A Case Study of Transference” (1994) — depict animal cruelty and that such an injustice has no place in the art world.

“This assault on animals in the name of art will not be tolerated or supported,” reads the petition that gathered more than 714,000 signatures as of Wednesday morning.

Protesters gathered outside the museum Saturday, holding signs that said “suffering animals is not art,” NPR reported.

The Guggenheim initially defended exhibiting the most controversial of the three works, “Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other,” which features pit bulls being trained to fight on treadmills, saying it’s “an intentionally challenging and provocative artwork that seeks to examine and critique systems of power and control.”

“We recognize that the work may be upsetting,” the museum said Thursday. “The curators of the exhibition hope that viewers will consider why the artists produced it and what they may be saying about the social conditions of globalization and the complex nature of the world we share.”

But the Guggenheim caved Monday to mounting pressure, albeit grudgingly, saying all three artworks would be pulled from the upcoming exhibit.

“Although these works have been exhibited in museums in Asia, Europe, and the United States, the Guggenheim regrets that explicit and repeated threats of violence have made our decision necessary,” the museum said in a statement. “As an arts institution committed to presenting a multiplicity of voices, we are dismayed that we must withhold works of art. Freedom of expression has always been and will remain a paramount value of the Guggenheim.”

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