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National Gallery cancels Chuck Close, Thomas Roma shows; artists accused of sexual harassment

The National Gallery of Art will not open a planned show of works by artist Chuck Close in May. (Dennis Van Tine/Star Max/IPx)

The National Gallery of Art will not present solo exhibitions by painter Chuck Close and photographer Thomas Roma, both of whom have been accused of sexual misconduct.

The Close exhibition was supposed to open May 13, while the Roma show was planned for September. The decision to halt the shows was made earlier this month and marks the first time the gallery has canceled exhibitions because of public allegations against the featured artists, according to Anabeth Guthrie, the museum’s chief of communications.

“Given the recent attention on their personal lives, we discussed postponement of the installations with each artist. All parties involved acknowledged that it is not the appropriate time to present these installations,” Guthrie said in an email.

Close and Roma are part of a tide of sexual harassment accusations against powerful figures that has surged since the downfall of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Prominent figures in media, the performing arts and academia also have been the subject of allegations.

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According to media reports, Close has been accused of sexually harassing women who went to his studio to pose for him, charges he denies. Roma retired from Columbia University this month after five former students came forward with allegations of misconduct, according to reports.

“In the Tower: Chuck Close” was expected to include 30 works, mostly from the museum’s collection. Information about it has been deleted from the National Gallery’s website.

The Roma show was to feature about two dozen works the museum recently acquired. In November, it announced a gift of 87 photographs from Roma’s series “Come Sunday.” The images were created from 1991 to 1994 and depict religious services inside Brooklyn houses of worship.

Roma’s work is in the collections of several museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago.

The National Gallery has not determined what will replace these installations.