I just got off the phone with Chapman Kelley, who confirmed that his letter was hand delivered to the Dallas Museum of Art by a friend this morning. Kelley said he is quite serious about his request: he wants to buy back his painting.
“I can’t take pride being in the collection,” he said.
Kelley described his experience at the Coastlines exhibition. “There was an awful lot of noise and I couldn’t carry on a conversation,” he said. “It had nothing to do with the painting.”
“The main thing is it cheapens the work,” Kelley continued. “It is using our work for someone’s tableau.”
Kelley’s larger concern, he said, was that the style of the show precludes from taking the work in the show seriously, which sets a precedent for how future generations will approach and understand art.
“They’ll never get over that, they’ll ask, ‘where are the dances, where is the noise,’” Kelly said. “We have to teach people to take the work seriously.”
I have made an inquiry with the DMA and am awaiting their their response to Kelley’s letter.