Tate Breaks Ties With Art Dealer Anthony d’Offay After Racist Selfies Appear On Social Media

Tate and the art dealer Anthony d’Offay have agreed to end their relationship. The announcement came today in a joint statement by Tate and Anthony d’Offay.

Recently photos have emerged of racist selfies of the dealer with Gollywogs

“This involves the return of works on loan to Tate from Anthony d’Offay and Anthony d’Offay Limited and the removal of public signage at Tate. The Artist Rooms Collection, which is jointly owned by Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland, will not be affected by these changes. Neither Tate nor Anthony d’Offay will be commenting further on this matter.” – Tate Statement

The art dealer/philanthropist Anthony d’Offay gave his £200m art collection to the nation and created Artist Rooms a touring exhibition that has had an audience of over 30 million. The dealer was the subject of a police investigation over allegations of sending malicious emails to a former employee. No further action was taken. The incident also raised concerns about inappropriate behavior towards two other women in the 1990s -2004. Some were also former employees. Trustees at the Tate renewed links with d’Offay in April 2019. As a result 35 artists and curators signed an open letter, questioning the decision to continue ties with the dealer. They asked if the gallery had carried out an internal investigation into d’Offay’s behaviour. The gallery did not comment at the time.

Recently photos have emerged of racist selfies of the dealer with Gollywogs. Earlier this year when the Tate expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement on social media, the statement backfired when a selfie image showing D’Offay posing in a mirror with a Golliwog emerged.

We Industrious stated on instagram, ‘In 2017, a Black woman artist came forward as a whistleblower, making public a mirror selfie of Anthony d’Offay holding a racist doll which was sent to her as part of a long term pattern of abuse.

The removal of his name is a welcome development that has come after three years of continued pressure from a number of working groups. However, this statement fails to address in any way the trauma compounded by the institution through the excuses they have continued to make around their relationship with d’Offay during that time. Until now, Tate had continued to insist publicly that there was no ongoing formal relationship with him.

Whilst we welcome this first step, this is not what accountability looks like. This statement does not account for the continued racial bias in the Artist Rooms collection, something which the removal of his name will not remedy. It also maintains a silence around institutional racism that runs deep within Tate and will not end with d’Offay’s removal. The mass redundancies we are seeing now are a symptom of the same major ethical failings which sustain this structural racism.

The next action, as suggested in the dossier compiled and sent to Tate by Industria and a wider working group in February 2020, must be to institute a robust and truly independent ethics committee and policy capable of holding the institution to account. It is time for the structure of Tate to be entirely overhauled so they can be truly accountable to we, the public, artists, and workers.’

Born in Sheffield to a French father, Anthony d’Offay was only 25 when he opened his first tiny gallery near Piccadilly. Within a year he had sold a drawing by Jean Cocteau to Paul McCartney, and he launched a new gallery near Bond Street in 1969. He helped revive the reputations of Wyndham Lewis and Stanley Spencer, and in the year his gallery closed it hosted exhibitions of Ron Mueck, Anselm Kiefer and Bill Viola. For 15 years he organised mostly historical exhibitions of early 20th-century British art including Abstract Art in England 1913-1915 (1969) which critically reassessed the importance of the Vorticist movement in the UK. In the 1970s, he started to show contemporary art, exhibiting Lucian Freud, Michael Andrews, Eduardo Paolozzi, Frank Auerbach and William Coldstream. The gallery in London made many distinguished exhibitions by some of the greatest artists of our time including Willem de Kooning, Carl Andre, Maurizio Cattelan, Lawrence Weiner, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Gerhard Richter, Jannis Kounellis, Anselm Kiefer, Richard Long, Bruce Nauman, Gilbert & George, Richard Hamilton, Brice Marden, James Turrell, Rachel Whiteread, Sigmar Polke, Cy Twombly, Ron Mueck and Andy Warhol, who he commissioned to make the celebrated ‘Fright Wig’ Self Portraits.

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