Fury as Tate drops exhibit by anti-racist Jewish artist

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Fury as Tate drops exhibit by anti-racist Jewish artist

Display, which was due to open at Tate Modern in London was pulled because it requires 'additional perspectives and voices 'to frame Philip Guston’s depictions of racism

Philip Guston, and his depiction of the KKK
Philip Guston, and his depiction of the KKK

The indefinite postponement of a major retrospective to honour the Jewish artist Philip Guston has sparked fury in the art world.

The exhibition, which was due to open at Tate Modern in London and tour art galleries in Washington, Houston and Boston, was cancelled because, according to the four galleries, it requires “additional perspectives and voices” to frame Guston’s depictions of racism. 

The paintings, which feature Ku Klux Klan members going about their daily business wearing robes stained by the blood of their victims, were the artist’s way of presenting the banality of evil. Now, according to some critics of the decision, the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement has resulted in galleries postponing the exhibit as they want to wait until the “message of social and racial justice” at the centre of Guston’s work “can be more clearly interpreted”.

Canadian-born Guston, born Goldstein, often created work about racism and antisemitism. He died in 1980. His father, a Russian-Jewish blacksmith, fled the pogroms in Odessa but when he struggled to find enough work in the US to feed his seven children, he hanged himself. Philip, then 10, found his body. 

Guston was traumatised by the antisemitism his father suffered and in his youth was an anti-racism activist, which is why the postponement has angered so many. 

The Tate’s senior curator, Mark Godfrey, voiced his frustration, posting on Instagram that the decision “is actually extremely patronising to viewers, who are assumed not to be able to appreciate the nuance and politics of Guston’s works”.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: