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Reckoning with the Past: A Forum

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François Boucher, "Companions of Diana," 1745

François Boucher, "Companions of Diana," 1745. Oil on canvas, 46 1/8 x 36 1/8 (117.2 x 91.8 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Roscoe and Margaret Oakes Collection, 75.2.3 

John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Theater

In this present moment of increased reckoning around issues of abuses of power and predatory behavior, many arts institutions are grappling with questions raised in relation to both the subjects of artworks as well as the lives of particular artists, opening up space for critically rethinking how the art historical canon is interpreted and how we view cultural production through different lenses, both past and present. 

On the occasion of the Casanova exhibition, the museum is convening a forum to consider questions of exhibition practice and the historical framing of artworks from the past in light of contemporary discussions around gender equity and behavioral accountability. How can museums more thoughtfully address these urgent issues in their roles of preserving, presenting, and interpreting artworks, and how can they develop new strategies for addressing the historical imbalances of power that has most often positioned women as objects and subjects rather than creators? Do museums have a responsibility to remove artworks or revise the interpretations of those that sexualize or objectify women to acknowledge these complex issues? These questions and more will be addressed in an open forum with Julia Bryan-Wilson, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art and Director of the UC Berkeley Arts Research Center, Sugata Ray, Assistant Professor of South Asian Art at UC Berkeley, Whitney Chadwick, Professor of Art History at San Francisco State University, and Monica Westin, art writer, critic, and adjunct professor in the Graduate Program in Fine Arts at California College of the Arts. 

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