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More on Political Art: Botero’s “Abu Ghraib” at Berkeley

The major exception to the general absence from U.S. art shows of works addressing the morass in Iraq is the Abu Ghraib series by Colombian artist Fernando Botero, shown last fall at Marlborough Gallery in New York.
Yesterday the San Francisco Chronicle reported that this series will be shown, beginning Jan. 29, at the Doe Library of the University of California, Berkeley.
According the Marlborough, the series was “first exhibited as part of a larger exhibition at the Palazzo Venezia in Rome in 2005. It then traveled to the Würth Museum in Künzelsau, Germany and to the Pinacoteca in Athens, Greece.” But Berkeley is the first venue, outside of the artist’s own gallery, to exhibit these paintings and drawings in this country.
At the time of the New York show, Marlborough stated:
These works, which come from the artist’s own collection and are not for sale, are strongly personal statements of his reaction and feelings stemming from his reading of news media accounts of the events taking place at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2003.
Can it be that U.S. artists are less interested in creating works that are intensely felt but, due to their sensitive subject matter, “not for sale”? Or are they too isolated in their studios to deeply engage in disturbing, politically charged subject matter?

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