British Bobbies Prudish on Richard Prince’s Portrait of Pre-Teen Nude

10/01/2009 3:27 PM |

Brooke Shields by Gary Gross, Richaard Prince

Before London’s Tate Modern museum had a chance to open its epic new exhibition, Pop Life, Art in a Material World, officers from Scotland Yard paid museum officials a visit to inform them that a work in the show, a Richard Prince piece that incorporates Gary Gross‘s photograph of a 10 year-old Brooke Shields naked (pictured in part at right, in full here—NSFW, obvs), may violate obscenity laws if not removed from the exhibition.

The Guardian reports that the piece was taken down before Pop Life opened to members yesterday and to the public today, and the exhibition catalog that features a reproduction of the piece has been withdrawn from sale.

The cops issued the warning after seeing media coverage of the exhibition and without receiving any complaints from visitors, which makes this sound more like censorship than anything. After all, the photograph was going to be hanging with a warning label in a public museum, not a porn shop. Isn’t the very act of prohibiting museum visitors from seeing a difficult and troubling work of art that features a sexualized child basically tantamount to treating them like children? Let people decide for themselves what’s obscene and what isn’t. (Artforum)