Famed San Francisco Art Curator Out After Refusing to Ban White Artists

Gary Garrels, a senior curator at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for painting and sculpture, resigned from his post Saturday after backlash from saying that the museum would continue to collect work from white artists.

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Garrels was confronted over the comments during a Zoom meeting after he said that banning white artists would basically be “reverse discrimination.” Breitbart reported that a petition was launched over his “violent language” and called for his job.

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The petition read, “Considering his lengthy tenure at this institution, we ask just how long have his toxic white supremacist beliefs regarding race and equity directed his position curating the content of the museum?”

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Garrels apologized for the “reverse discrimination” comment (which, today, is apparently reverse-reverse discrimination, an even worse offense).

“I do not believe I have ever said that it is important to collect the art of white men,” he said, according to artnet.com. “I have said that it is important that we do not exclude consideration of the art of white men.”

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He said due to the current climate he “can no longer effectively work” there and would resign by the end of the month.

KQED.com reported that Garrels is the fifth staff member at the museum to step down in recent weeks and said the museum has been under some fire over allegations of “racial inequity from both internal and external critics.”

The San Francisco Chronicle reported in 2016 that only six percent of the art displayed at the museum was produced by people of color. The museum, according to KQED, has made an effort to start showcasing more works by minorities and women. Last year, the museum announced 11 acquisitions in an effort to “strategically diversify the collection.”

“This is just the beginning of what we will be able to accomplish with this fund, which allows us to broaden the scope of the stories we are able to tell in our galleries,” said Neal Benezra, Helen and Charles Schwab director of SFMOMA.

Robby Soave, a senior editor at Reason magazine, pointed to Garrels’ apology and said that is “not the language of a white supremacist.”

“Those who say otherwise—that Garrels is guilty of racism—have stripped the word of its potency,” he wrote.

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