Tate Modern Replaces Indecent Brooke Shields Photo, Reopens Gallery

Tate Modern, Pop Life: Art in a Material World, Richard Prince

LONDON -- A nude photograph of a ten-year-old Brooke Shields has been removed from Tate Modern's exhibition entitled Pop Life: Art in a Material World. The Richard Prince photo (Spiritual America, 1983 - detail shown above left) was deemed offensive by some exhibit attendees, prompting a museum visit from officers of the police's obscene publications unit.

A police spokesman “explained the legal position which is clear that anyone convicted of distributing or showing an indecent image of a child would automatically be placed on the sex offenders register.” But is it "indecent" when the image is displayed in a cultural establishment, like the Tate, and in the name of art?

The museum temporarily shut down, but reopened Tuesday - sans the 1983 photo. A later version of the Richard Prince work (Spiritual America IV, 2005 - detail shown above right), was hung in it's place.

Many in the art world believe the authorities' investigation (and threats) went too far. Art lawyer Mark Stephens commented, "With exhibitions in cultural institutions [it] can rarely, if ever, be in the ‘public interest’ to prosecute. It [would not be] in the public interest to prosecute [Tate over] this Richard Prince image, particularly taking account its long history of public exhibition.”

Pop Life: Art in a Material World (Oct. 1 - Jan. 17, 2010)  @ Tate Modern | Website


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