The head of the committee, Professor Emeritus of Contemporary Art History Kitty Zijlmans, wants the painting to have a prominent place in the Academy Building, although only when ‘accompanied by relevant information’. This appeared in a report published by news platform Mare last Friday about a symposium on art at the university. The committee also plans to advise that a diverse art committee should from now on monitor such issues and discuss them with students and staff. The advice has yet to be officially released.
The artwork, made by Rein Dool in the 1970s, portrays the Leiden University Executive Board of the time. A PhD student criticised the painting and turned to Twitter to see what others thought. Leiden Law School removed the work following the furore that erupted, only to put it back on the wall once the commotion had died down.
In response to parliamentary questions from the VVD, Education Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf said that he saw few problems in the discussion around the artwork. In his opinion, art can help drive the debate on the representativeness of board members of educational institutions.
That prompted accusations that he was yielding to the activists too easily. However, Dijkgraaf brushed these criticisms aside: the ministry aims to combat discrimination and racism and encourage diversity.