“Although these works have been exhibited in museums in Asia, Europe and the United States, the Guggenheim regrets that explicit and repeated threats of violence have made our decision necessary,” it said in a statement posted on its website. “As an arts institution committed to presenting a multiplicity of voices, we are dismayed that we must withhold works of art. Freedom of expression has always been and will remain a paramount value of the Guggenheim.”
Criticism of the show grew quickly online, on social media and on animal-rights websites, with the initial focus on “Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other.” The museum tried to quell the backlash last Thursday, releasing a statement acknowledging that the work was difficult to view but encouraging patrons to consider what the piece “may be saying about the social conditions of globalization and the complex nature of the world we share.”
A spokeswoman for the museum said Thursday that “it was not a question that it would stay in the exhibition.”
But the criticism only grew over the weekend. On Monday, the president of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said that only “sick individuals” could enjoy watching “Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other,” and the American Kennel Club said that dogfighting “should not be displayed in any manner and certainly not as art.”
Two works removed by the Guggenheim have come under previous criticism.
Huang Yong Ping, who created “Theater of the World,” withdrew it from a show in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2007 rather than comply with a request from an animal rights group to remove scorpions and tarantulas from it.
Mr. Huang said by telephone from Paris that he had no comment on the Guggenheim’s action. He said the museum had not informed him about the decision to withdraw his piece.
“I am hearing about this for the first time,” he said.
Peng Yu, who created “Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other” with her husband, Sun Yuan, denied her art was animal cruelty.
“These dogs are naturally pugnacious,” Ms. Peng said in an interview last year.
Reached in Beijing on Tuesday, Ms. Peng blamed the controversy on a recent article about the exhibition. “I don’t want to talk about this anymore,” she said, adding that the dogs were examined by veterinarians before and after they were used in the performance.
The Guggenheim originally agreed to include the third piece, “A Case Study of Transference,” but only as a video of a Beijing performance. The boar and sow are stamped with gibberish composed of nonsensical English words and invented Chinese characters — intended to make patrons consider the relationship between the West and China.