Will Museo Jumex Lose Director Over Canceled Herman Nitsch Show?

The Museo Jumex, in Mexico CityPhoto via: WGSN
The Museo Jumex, in Mexico City
Photo via: WGSN

Patrick Charpenel has resigned from the directorship of Mexico City’s Museo Jumex over a canceled exhibition of the work of artist Hermann Nitsch, an anonymous source has told the New York Times, which adds that he will leave in March.

Charpenel responded to a question about his plans with a classic non-denial denial: “Mr. Charpenel said on Tuesday that he was ‘still working as director of the Jumex Foundation,’” says the article.

The museum is reported to have canceled the show by the Viennese Actionist artist in response to protests by animal rights activists over the artist’s controversial slaughtering of animals in his work, though the artist says that the last time he did so was in 1998 (see Museo Jumex Cancels Hermann Nitsch Show Over Animal Rights Protest).

Now Charpenel says that the Jumex canceled the show, including blood-spattered canvases and works involving mock crucifixions, for fear of being insensitive to the “political and social times Mexico is going through.” The country has been torn in recent years by increasingly brutally violent drug gangs, which are reportedly supported by corrupt police forces (see Naked Youths Take to Mexican Streets to Protest Student Killings Documented by Édgar Olguín).

Experts told the Times that the move by the Jumex (the paper helpfully points out that it’s pronounced WHO-mex) damages the museum’s credibility and that its excuse doesn’t hold up.

The excuse is “ridiculous,” according to founding director and curator Patricia Martín, writes the Times.

“There’s a lack of seriousness in an institution that—just because it has private funding—forgets that it has a responsibility to the public,” Mexican curator and art critic Cuauhtémoc Medina tells the Times.

The Colección Jumex was founded by Eugenio López Alonso, the son of Eugenio López Rodea, president of the fruit juice company Grupo Jumex. The collection is considered the region’s most substantial collection of contemporary art and is reportedly worth “at least $80 million.” Designed by David Chipperfield Architects, the Jumex Museum opened in November 2013.


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