Hannah Gadsby discusses provocative Picasso show at The Brooklyn Museum, wading into a row about a certain family….


The Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby is certainly making waves with their forthcoming exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in New York, It’s Pablo-matic: Picasso According to Hannah Gadsby (2 June-24 September), which raises provocative issues around the Spanish master such as misogyny and masculinity. Variety magazine ran an interview with Gadsby, pointing out that the Picasso show is curated by Catherine Morris whose title is “Sackler Senior Curator, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art”. The Sackler moniker prompted Variety to probe Gadsby about the connection to the eponymous dynasty (the name has become indelibly linked to the global opioid crisis that some members of the family profited enormously from—and are accused of fuelling—via their company Purdue Pharma).

“I’m doing a show at the Brooklyn Museum,” Gadsby said in the lively report. “There’s one Sackler on the board. We vetted this. Apparently, they’ve separated their earning streams from the problematic one. I mean, take that with a grain of salt. Doesn’t matter what cultural institution you work with in America, you’re going to be working with billionaires and there’s not a billionaire on this planet that is not fucked up. It is just morally reprehensible.”

The Brooklyn Museum tells us that the report “conflated the fact that the title of one of our curators, Catherine Morris (Sackler Senior Curator, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art), meant that the Sacklers were involved or somehow funding the show. This is not the case. Many curatorial positions are named for the person or organisation who endowed the position. Catherine Morris has curated countless exhibitions for the museum, however, that doesn’t mean there was involvement from the Sackler family in said exhibitions.”

Incidentally, Elizabeth Sackler told ArtForum in 2018: “My father, Arthur M. Sackler, died in 1987, before OxyContin existed and his one-third option in Purdue Frederick was sold by his estate to his brothers [Mortimer and Raymond Sackler] a few months later.”

Gadsby’s 2018 Netflix show Nanette meanwhile “called out the inexcusable behaviour of some of art history’s most towering figures, Picasso in particular”, says an online museum statement (we can’t wait to see the roasting they give Picasso).


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