New York’s Lévy Gorvy Dayan said it had been “vandalized” on Wednesday after a statement apologizing for its founders’ stance on an Artforum letter about Gaza appeared on its windows.
That letter, which was signed by thousands of artists, demanded that art institutions speak out on Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza, which have killed thousands in the past two months. Published less than two weeks after the October 7 Hamas attack that killed 1,200 Israelis, it goes on to call for Palestinian liberation and a ceasefire in Gaza. But it did not initially mention the Hamas attack or the militant group’s taking of around 240 hostages, more than 100 of whom have since been released.
In response, dealers Dominique Lévy, Brett Gorvy, and Amalia Dayan wrote a statement of their own that was also published by Artforum. “We are distressed by the open letter recently posted on Artforum, which does not acknowledge the ongoing mass hostage emergency, the historical context, and the atrocities committed in Israel on October 7, 2023—the bloodiest day in Jewish history since the Holocaust,” they wrote.
Shortly afterward, mention of the Hamas attack was added at the top of the Artforum letter, and some signatories’ names started to disappear. Then, after another letter calling for “empathy” in the wake of the Hamas attack was signed by thousands of dealers and artists, Artforum editor David Velasco was fired. The magazine’s publishers said in a statement that the publication of the letter was “not consistent with Artforum’s editorial process” because it had been promoted without the knowledge of certain staff members.
The messages that were pasted to Lévy Gorvy Dayan’s windows on Wednesday appeared to be a mea culpa for the dealers’ Artforum statement.
Pictures of the statement were put on Instagram by the group Writers Against the War on Gaza, which yesterday denounced Velasco’s firing in a post that referred to the “McCarthyism” of Penske Media Corporation, the company that owns Artforum as well as ARTnews and Art in America. (In a statement that appears in the current print edition of Artforum, Jay Penske, the company’s CEO, chairman, and founder, said the circumstances surrounding Velasco’s firing had been “misinterpreted,” noting that the letter was a “meaningful expression of advocacy” that also “lacked critical information about its origin, author, and David’s involvement.”)
“We apologize deeply for our previous letter, which has contributed to the chilling, censorial environment around pro-Palestinian voices,” the message pasted to Lévy Gorvy Dayan’s windows read. “We are learning and welcome the signees of our original letter to learn with us as we raise our voices for clear and unambiguous justice.”
In a statement, the gallery said that the apology pasted to the building’s facade did not reflect the dealers’ views.
“Early this morning, an unknown group vandalized the windows of our gallery with a political message signed by the founding partners,” a gallery spokesperson said in an email. “These individuals targeted Lévy Gorvy Dayan—doctoring and decontextualizing the original language of a letter written on October 20. The views expressed do not reflect those of the gallery. Our priority is the safety of our staff, artists, and patrons.”