Saturday, 12 July 2014
All too much
But it was all too much for the sheltered folk at the Mall Galleries in London, who took one look at it and decided it was "disgusting" and "pornographic". They removed it from the Society of Women Artists' Annual Exhibition and replaced it with something they thought was more suitable.
They explained that they had had a number of complaints and children who happened to be walking through the gallery on the way to other events might be disturbed by it.
Disturbed by what exactly? The modest patch of pubic hair? The partially-uncovered breasts? The unbuttoned culottes? The self-confident swagger? Is it in any way threatening or violent or deformed or sinister? Why would any child pay any particular attention to it, let alone be disturbed by it?
The artist, Leena McCall, was furious at the removal of the portrait. She said she was baffled as to how a painting with no intimate flesh apart from "the pelvic triangle" could be seen as pornographic.
Art galleries everywhere have copious nude portraits and sculptures of both sexes that attract no complaints whatever. Why the strange over-reaction to this slightly unusual painting?
The journalist Rowan Pelling suggests it's because the subject is not the normal passive, unassuming female but looks assertive and appraising - provocative even.
And she wonders "if the cross-legged Puritans responsible for defenestrating the portrait have ever seen Gustave Courbet's L'Origine du Monde at the Musée d'Orsay, with its splendid sprawl of black-haired vulva." A painting which leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination.
All a bit of a whipped-up storm in a teacup, surely?
Pic: Ms Ruby May, Standing by Leena McCall