Beau Stanton's mural of Ava Gardner adorns the Robert F. Kennedy Community School in LA's Koreatown. The mural is an homage to the famed Cocoanut Grove nightclub which stood nearby, and depicts the Old Hollywood film star in profile, palm trees and
moorish architecture overlaid on her face. Behind her head, alternating rays of blue and orange in a sunburst pattern.
Last month, the Wilshire Community Coalition sent a letter to the Los Angeles Unified School District requesting that the mural be censored. The group ludicrously claimed that the pattern was too similar to the Rising Sun Flag of Imperial Japan, a symbol
loaded with pain and trauma for the Korean-American community that they likened it to the Swastika of German Nazism. The group wrote:
This work is extremely offensive and threatening to many survivors, descendants and
community stakeholders who stand in absolute opposition of the Japanese Imperialism, Racism, ethnic hatred and crimes against humanity committed by the military aggression during the World War II
Let's hope these easily offended Koreans never going shopping in the UK
In response to their request, the LAUSD agreed to paint over the mural during winter break.
Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight issued a scathing rebuke to the decision calling it deplorable. An innocent artist is being smeared as a
promoter of hate speech, Knight wrote, his work unfairly attacked for something it is not. He went on to detail the ways in which the mural differed from the Rising Sun Flag, from the number of rays -- 44 vs 32 -- to the colors used, and the myriad
sources in which similar motifs can be found. Deceptive claims have been weaponized to shut down free speech, he concluded. The school mural is not the scandal; LAUSD's imminent censorship is.
The Los Angeles
Unified School District (LAUSD) has postponed its controversial decision to paint over a mural -- which depicts American actress Ava Gardner s profile against a backdrop of blue and orange stripes emanating from her like sunbeams204in Los Angeles's
Koreatown after it sparked a contentious debate over censorship, the Los Angeles Times reports.
In December, when LAUSD agreed to remove the mural, it started to face backlash. Christopher Knight of the Los Angeles Times penned a piece titled,
LAUSD Caves to Claims of Racism on a School Mural. It's Deplorable. In the article, he argued that an innocent artist is being smeared as a promoter of hate speech, his work unfairly attacked for something it is not.
LAUSD's Monday announcement
that it would put off making a decision about the mural until a later date prompted Gyopo -- a group of Korean American artists and arts professionals204to send a letter to the district that acknowledges Stanton did not intend to evoke the imperial
Japanese flag and expresses that the group is troubled by the lack of community involvement in the mural's selection process, the mural's imagery itself and its memorialization of a whites-only club, and the ways in which the media has directed these
LACMA's Kim, a Gyopo cofounder, whinged to the Los Angeles Times:
It's been framed as 'censorship versus artistic integrity' in the press. It's a framing that may grab headlines or attention, but it
dismisses cultural and individual pain and trauma that's very real that's elicited from an artwork that's displayed in a very public manner, in a place where there are thousands of students, young people and community members who see it every day.
The National Trust has organised an art exhibition to promote the role of women and celebrate the life of Margaret Armstrong, the wife of a 19th-century industrialist. But instead of filling her grand country hall with artefacts about her life, the
National Trust decided to cover up artworks that were created by or featured men.
Visitors described the project as ridiculous after paintings were covered with sheets and statues wrapped in bags. It was reported that staff at Cragside in
Northumberland had to empty the comments box several times a day due to the volume of complaints.
Now the National Trust has admitted the idea backfired. It claimed the project was not about censoring art or being politically correct but was
designed to encourage visitors to look at the collection differently and stimulate debate. The trust said:
Sometimes it doesn't work as we intended and we accept the feedback we have received, We've had a mix of
positive and negative comments. We're going to look at it closely and it will be reviewed thoroughly.
A new sculptural work, Coralarium, created by artist and environmentalist Jason deCaires Taylor, was demolished last week after it was deemed anti-Islamic. The semi-submerged artwork was criticised by religious leaders and scholars in the Maldives, where
Islam is the official religion. The depiction of human figures in art is discouraged under Islamic law.
The government ordered the destruction of the artwork, after a court ruled it to be a threat to Islamic unity and the peace and interests of the
Maldivian state, despite the authorities previously granting permission.
The project by DeCaires Taylor features a large steel frame with cutouts aiming to mimic the marine world was intended to allow sea life to explore freely within, acting as a
new habitat for coral and other species. Thirty human figures were positioned on top and inside the frame at tidal level, with others submerged beneath. The sculptures were based on life-casts of people, around half of them Maldivian, with some
reimagined as hybrid forms including coral or root-like elements.
Nine months in the making, its creation involved a large team of marine engineers, steel fabricators, divers and mould-makers. However, on 21 September the work was destroyed under
court order with pickaxes, saws and ropes. The Coralarium structure and underwater trees remains intact but the human figures have been hacked out.
A censorship row has blown up about a retrospective exhibition of Robert Mapplethorpe's photographic work at Serralves museum, in Oporto, Portugal
Although the institution's creative director João Ribas had previously stated to Público newspaper that there would be no
censorship, partially-covered pieces, special rooms, or any sort of restriction to visitors motivated by age, adding that only a disclaimer would be placed at the exhibition's entry to warn the public that certain content might hurt some visitors'
But a few days before the inauguration Ribas unexpectedly resigned from his position, arguing that not only there were areas with limited access to minors against his will but also that he had been asked to remove twenty photos
from it altogether -- declarations to which the museum's administration has since then responded to, saying this had resulted from Ribas' own decision.
The Flemish Tourism Board has responded to Facebook's relentless censorship of nudity in classical paintings by Peter Paul Rubens
In the satirical video, a team of Social Media Inspectors block gallery goers from seeing paintings at the Rubens
House in Antwerp. Facebook-branded security--called fbi--redirect unwitting crowds away from paintings that depict nude figures. We need to direct you away from nudity, even if artistic in nature, says one Social Media Inspector.
video, as well as a cheeky open letter from the tourism board and a group of Belgian museums, asks Facebook to roll back its censorship standards so that they can promote Rubens. "Breasts, buttocks and Peter Paul Rubens cherubs are all considered
indecent. Not by us, but by you, the letter, addressed to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, says. Even though we secretly have to laugh about it, your cultural censorship is making life rather difficult for us.
The Guardian reported that Facebook is
planning to have talks with the Flemish tourist board.
Esplanade in Singapore has censored a drawing by artist Vincent Leow after concerns about bestiality'
A moralist group named Singaporeans Defending Marriage and Family flagged the painting in a Facebook post, accusing the Esplanade of promoting
bestiality and expressing concerns that the artwork could likely be seen by children during the school holidays.
Ms Yvonne Tham, Esplanade chief executive-designate, said that after discussing with Mr Leow:
have agreed to not continue displaying the drawing, given that the public space at Esplanade's Community Wall does not allow opportunity for an advisory and is visited by a wide range of visitors, including families.
We wish to
assure the public that in presenting the exhibition, we had no intent to promote or advocate for any stance. As is often the case with art, viewers are free to draw their own interpretations of a drawing that is not a realistic rendering.
In this case, in view of the strong feedback we have received from some members of the public, the Community Wall may not be the most appropriate space to present this drawing, as it is a public thoroughfare with no opportunity for an
advisory. This is solely Esplanade's error of judgement.
A Russian gallery is considering removing a notable painting from display after it was vandalised by someone who took issue with the artist's take on a historical event.
'Alexander III receiving rural district elders in the yard of Petrovsky Palace in Moscow (1886)' by Illya Repin
Ilya Repin's 1986 portrayal of a highly contested historical scene depicts Tsar Ivan IV Vasilyevich allegedly getting into a fight with his son. As the tale goes, the Tsar's son died during the course of the alleged confrontation.
questioned the historical veracity of this tale and even one of Repin's biggest supporters, Tsar Alexander III loathed the painting because of its apparent vulgar distortion of Russian history.
Last week, a homeless man called Igor Podporin
visited the Tretyakov Gallery where the painting is displayed. According to an interview he gave to police, he looked at the painting before going to the gallery's canteen where he then drank copious amounts of alcohol before returning to the painting
and striking it. The attack has caused severe damage to the painting and its frame
This was not the first time the work was vandalised. In 1913, a gallery visitor slashed the painting with a knife while shouting no more blood. The incident led to
the gallery's' curator committing suicide while the still living Repin was asked to help restore his work.
A commentator from eurasiafuture.com called for the painting to be removed from public view saying:
Russian history being insultingly distorted by racist regimes and bigoted media outlets throughout the world, the least a Russian gallery could do is not add fuel to this racially insensitive fire. .
Not a bad wind-up value for for a
19th century painting.
The University of Southern Maine has censored three works by a highly regarded oil painter after learning that the artist served six months in jail after being convicted of unlawful sexual contact nearly 20 years ago.
The censorship has prompted
objections from the show's curator and the Union of Maine Visual Artists.
The paintings are by Bruce Habowski. The show's curator, Janice L. Moore, said they were removed when a relative of a victim in the sex crime called the university to
complain. Where the paintings once hung are now empty hooks and open white wall space with a signed note from Moore that says, This painting has been removed by order of the USM president. Moore added:
He was convicted
for his crime and he paid his debt The act of making art, to me, it seems is a very positive thing. You are contributing to society in a positive way. I don't understand how that should be punished.
The university's communications
department issued a statement about the censorship which said:
USM received a complaint from a member of the public. The complaint was not about the content of the art, but about the artist. After careful review, USM
decided to remove his works from the exhibit.
A teacher wins a rather symbolic court victory in France over Facebook, who banned Gustave Courbet's 1866 painting L'Origine du monde (The Origin of the World).
After a seven year legal battle, a French court has ruled that Facebook was wrong
to close the social media account of educator Frédéric Durand without warning after he posted an image of Gustave Courbet 's 1866 painting The Origin of the World .
While the court agreed that Facebook was at fault, the social media giant does not
have to pay damages. The court ruled that there was no damage because Durand was able to open another account.
Durand was not impressed, he said:
We are refuting this, we are making an appeal, and we will argue
in the court of appeal that, actually, there was damage.
Durand's lawyer, Stéphane Cottineau, explained that when the social network deleted Durand's account in 2011, he lost his entire Facebook history, which he didn't use for social
purposes, but rather to share his love of art, particularly of street art and the work of contemporary living painters.
Cases of art censorship on Facebook continue to surface. The latest work deemed pornographic is the 30,000 year-old nude statue famously known as the Venus of Willendorf, part of the Naturhistorisches Museum (NHM) collection in Vienna. An image of the
work posted on Facebook by Laura Ghianda, a self-described artivist, was removed as inappropriate content despite four attempts to appeal the decision.
The NHM reacted to Ghianda's Facebook post in January, requesting that Facebook allow the Venus to
remain naked. There has never been a complaint by visitors concerning the nakedness of the figurine, says Christian Koeberl, the director general of NHM. There is no reason to cover the Venus of Willendorf and hide her nudity, neither in the museum nor
on social media.
Madrid's International Contemporary Art Fair (ARCO) has pulled a photo exhibition called Political Prisoners in Contemporary Spain amid controversy because it includes images of Catalan politicians that are currently in jail.
The decision to
remove the exhibition within hours of the art fair opening to the press has been attributed to censorship. The exhibition space is government funded so sensitivities have to be observed.
The polemic exhibit contained 24 black and white portraits
by Spanish conceptual artist Santiago Sierra, displayed in the stand assigned to the Helga de Alvear gallery.
Gallery organisers were asked to remove the exhibit on Wednesday just hours after a press preview ahead of the art fair opening to the
Manchester Art Gallery has censored a historic artwork seemingly in response to #MeToo concerns about men gazing on naked women.
John William Waterhouse's painting Hylas and the Nymphs was painted in 1896 and depicts pubescent, naked nymphs
tempting a handsome young man to his doom. It is one of the most recognisable of the pre-Raphaelite paintings.
Although framing the decision as some sort of prompt for a debate, the censorship seems permanent as the gallery has also
announced that will also be erased from the post card selection in the gallery shop.
Clare Gannaway, the gallery's 'curator' of contemporary art, explained the censorship on grounds of political correctness. She spoke about the work, and related
paintings which were exhibited in a room titled In Pursuit of Beauty :
The title was a bad one, as it was male artists pursuing women's bodies, and paintings that presented the female body as a passive
decorative art form or a femme fatale.
For me personally, there is a sense of embarrassment that we haven't dealt with it sooner. Our attention has been elsewhere ... we've collectively forgotten to look at this space and think
about it properly. We want to do something about it now because we have forgotten about it for so long.
She added that the debates around Time's Up and #MeToo had fed into the decision.
She also invented a bizarre take on "I don't believe in censorship...BUT...".
The aim of the removal was to provoke debate, not to censor. It wasn't about denying the existence of particular artworks. [ ...BUT... it was about preventing men from gazing on the
The response so far has been mixed. Some have said it sets a dangerous precedent, while others have called it po-faced and politically correct.
I particularly enjoyed a blunt reader comment on a miserable Guardian
editorial piece supporting the censorship. TheGreatRonRafferty commented:
Nope, it's censorship. The reason it has been removed is because it shows women's breasts, but now we're being fed bunkum, because those who would hide women's breasts aren't willing to say so.
And an the subject
of journalistic accuracy, Andrew Sutton wrote to the Guardian:
Your arts correspondent, Mark Brown, repeatedly refers to Waterhouse as a Pre-Raphaelite. Waterhouse was a prominent Victorian painter contemporary with
the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, but was never a member and to refer to him as such is just plain wrong.
Manchester Art Gallery said the censored painting will be back on display on Saturday, seemingly on council orders. It's been clear that many people feel very strongly about the issues raised, Manchester City Council said.
Critics have been
robustly condemning the curators for being puritanical and politically correct.
The gallery's interim director Amanda Wallace said:
We were hoping the experiment would stimulate discussion, and it's fair
to say we've had that in spades - and not just from local people but from art-lovers around the world.
Throughout the painting's seven day absence, it's been clear that many people feel very strongly about the issues raised, and
we now plan to harness this strength of feeling for some further debate on these wider issues.
Presumably the politically correct curators have been living in their own little Guardian reading filter bubble and simply didn't realise
how few people supported their views on the censorship of art.
Offsite Comment: Perhaps a little sensitivity training for the staff of the gallery might be in order
The gallery is on tricky ground. Was it censoring Waterhouse's painting? Gannaway says no, but how else do you describe the removal of an artwork because someone objects to its subject matter on the grounds of a debate that actually has nothing to do
with it? Perhaps a little sensitivity training for the staff of the gallery might be in order.
The belief that art needs to be contextualised in this way is not only deeply patronising -- it is also opening up a gap between the art world and the public. Mounting their moral high horses, curators and critics see the role of the arts as one of
correcting the way people think about the world -- to make people see the world as it is seen by these elites: riven by gender bias, racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, corporate corruption, environmental irresponsibility, and so forth.