Pre-Raphaelite painting removed from Manchester art gallery for depicting nude nymphs

The Pecksniffs have descended on the town of Matthew Cobb; yes, the termites have dined their way to Manchester. For a lovely and famous pre-Raphaelite painting, “Hylas and the nymphs“, created in 1898 by John William Waterhouse, has been removed from display at the Manchester Art Gallery.

First, the story behind the painting (from Artble):

Taken from the story of Jason and the Argonauts, Hylas was an Argonaut warrior and the assistant and lover of Herlkas. He was also known to be a very handsome youth.

When Jason’s boat landed on an island during his search for the Golden Fleece, Hylas was sent to fetch water for the camp. Finding a pool in a clearing, he reached down and put his pitcher into the water. Before he could lift his pitcher he looked up to discover water nymphs encircling him. Drawn by his beauty, one of the nymphs reached up to kiss Hylas.

The tale stops there and Hylas disappeared without trace from that moment, it was said that Herlkas searched the island for his beloved, in fact such a time passed that the boat left without him.

It’s a lovely painting; I have a weakness for the pre-Raphaelites and their descendant Maxfield Parrish.

You can guess why it was removed. The Guardian reports:

It is a painting that shows pubescent, naked nymphs tempting a handsome young man to his doom, but is it an erotic Victorian fantasy too far, and one which, in the current climate, is unsuitable and offensive to modern audiences?

Manchester Art Gallery has asked the question after removing John William Waterhouse’s Hylas and the Nymphs, one of the most recognisable of the pre-Raphaelite paintings, from its walls. Postcards of the painting will be removed from sale in the shop.

The painting was taken down on Friday and replaced with a notice explaining that a temporary space had been left “to prompt conversations about how we display and interpret artworks in Manchester’s public collection”. Members of the public have stuck Post-it notes around the notice giving their reaction.

Apparently its removal is an unfortunate byproduct of the recent (and laudable) movements against sexual harassment and predation:

Clare Gannaway, the gallery’s curator of contemporary art, said the aim of the removal was to provoke debate, not to censor. “It wasn’t about denying the existence of particular artworks.”

The work usually hangs in a room titled In Pursuit of Beauty, which contains late 19th century paintings showing lots of female flesh.

Gannaway said 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.”

Gannaway said the debates around Time’s Up and #MeToo had fed into the decision.

It’s dangerous to say that the influence of these movements have gone too far, as distinctions between various types of badness seem to have been effaced. And the censorship of paintings was not an aim of these movements: it’s collateral damage. But there’s nothing good about this kind of censorship, which I predict will spread.  If we need to deep-six every painting in which a male artist “pursues” a woman’s body, then get ready for the censorship of many of the world’s great artworks—not only the pre-Raphaelites, but Titian, Rubens, Picasso, Rembrandt, Manet, and, well, the list goes on forever. Here are a few example of ideologically incorrect paintings.

Of course curator Gannoway denies that this is censorship, even though it clearly is:

Clare Gannaway, the gallery’s curator of contemporary art, said the aim of the removal was to provoke debate, not to censor. “It wasn’t about denying the existence of particular artworks.”

. . . Gannaway said the removal was not about censorship.

“We think it probably will return, yes, but hopefully contextualised quite differently. It is not just about that one painting, it is the whole context of the gallery.”

Excuse me, but this is what comes out of the south end of a bull facing north. They characterized the removal as an “artistic act”, but it’s really an act of censorship. And what Gannaway calls “contextualized quite differently” means that if the paiting returns, there will be a big placard next to it pointing out why it’s “problematic.”

Jesus God, what is happening? I want to eat a Tide pod.

My response is similar to that of Stig Abell, editor and publisher of the Times Literary Supplement (h/t: Barry for the tweet):

127 Comments

  1. Posted February 1, 2018 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Ridiculous! I love Waterhouse. If they don’t want it, flog it, or donate it to a gallery that WILL show it!

    • David Coxill
      Posted February 2, 2018 at 12:15 am | Permalink

      I think the whole thing is a publicity stunt .

      • Posted February 2, 2018 at 3:15 am | Permalink

        Maybe… they said they thought these works were problematic.

  2. Posted February 1, 2018 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Maybe they thought it was called Hylas and the Nymphos.

    Manchester has a tendency to overreact to calls for censorship. Brits might remember Chief Constable James Anderton back in the Eighties. He claimed to take instructions from God and he was responsible for the seizures of films like the classic Lee Marvin film The Big Red One during the ‘video nasties’ panic in the mistaken belief that the title referred to something dirty.

    • David Coxill
      Posted February 2, 2018 at 12:07 am | Permalink

      Take instructions from god ,i always thought he considered himself god .

      Big Red One ? Whatever do you mean ?

      Wasn’t he mocked in the TV series” Whoops Apocalypse ?

      • David Coxill
        Posted February 2, 2018 at 12:47 am | Permalink

        Just had a look on the interweb ,it was The New statesman TV series that made fun of him.

    • Jonathan Dore
      Posted February 2, 2018 at 4:22 am | Permalink

      Indeed: in 2008 it was Manchester Museum that decided to drape clothes over their Egyptian mummies because someone had complained at their nakedness.

    • jay
      Posted February 2, 2018 at 5:46 am | Permalink

      The wingnut religionists and wingnut feminists find common ground. Isn’t that special!

      I’m going out on a limb, but I bet if the picture suggested gay seduction, it would be praised as ‘brave’ and ‘affirming’

  3. glen1davidson
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    The Puritans always return.

    Glen Davidson

  4. Posted February 1, 2018 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Incredible! I absolutely love Pre-Raphaelites paintings. This is ridiculous.

    Then there is the very interesting history of another famous painting by Gustave Courbet – “L’Origine du monde” which I dare to post here:

    It is presently in a museum in Japan.

    See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%27Origine_du_monde

    • Posted February 1, 2018 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      My mistake, it is not in Japan but is openly exhibited in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

      • Kev
        Posted February 1, 2018 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

        I’ve been there and seen it.
        Without your glasses, you can mistake it for a portrait of Toulouse Lautrec. I’m sure that beard reminds me of someone…..

        It also reminds me of this for some reason:

        • ploubere
          Posted February 1, 2018 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

          Ha!

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 1, 2018 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      Somebody thought “brazillian” was the number after a trillion.

      • Posted February 1, 2018 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

        My favourite George W Bush joke was

        ‘I have terrible news, Mr President. Three Brazilian soldiers have been killed in an ambush in Iraq.’

        ‘My God!’ says the President, shaking his head in horror. ‘How many is a brazillion?’

        • Kev
          Posted February 1, 2018 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

          My favourite was, “The French have no word for entrepr-ee-niure”.

          • David Coxill
            Posted February 2, 2018 at 12:13 am | Permalink

            The Welsh have no words for My round .

    • Posted February 2, 2018 at 4:40 am | Permalink

      I really wish you hadn’t, or rather had posted a link with an NSFW warning.

  5. GBJames
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    sub

  6. Carl S
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    So now “progressive” Brits are ideologically aligned with the “puritanical” fundamentalist Xians they previously made fun of?http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/1383108/Curtains-for-nude-statue-of-justice.html

    • Posted February 1, 2018 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      I wouldn’t defend either, but there is a difference between these. The American censors wanted to hide something they found salacious, while the British censors want to hide something they find exploitative.

      Though they spring from different motives, both attempts at censorship are ugly and deeply foolish.

      • Craw
        Posted February 1, 2018 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

        Who is exploited? Imaginary nymphs?

        • Posted February 1, 2018 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

          I didn’t say their objection made any sense. Whatsoever.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted February 1, 2018 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

            Well-they-start-from-differet-premises,-but-they-ed-up-i-the-same-place-(my-spacear-aint-working)–cr

            • DutchA
              Posted February 1, 2018 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

              An alternative for the space is the combination ALT + 32. Lemme try it…

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted February 2, 2018 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

                Thanks, but my laptop has now expired completely. Comments for the next 2 weeks will be, as they say, light. From Internet cafes.

                Never mind, I’ll go for a swim in the lagoon instead. (Aitutaki)

                Apropos of current topic, Ms II, in attempting to exit from the water with me holding her pareu ready for her, in her attempt to preserve modesty vis-a-vis our motel, inadvertently full-frontal-flashed the entire tourist resort 50 yards away across the channel, much to my amusement.

                cr

      • BJ
        Posted February 1, 2018 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think the premises are really that different. Both are claims that the objects of censorship are tearing at the moral fabric of society, and we must protect people from the evils of the objects. There is a difference in the evil being claimed, but the impetuses and ultimate reasons are the same.

  7. eric
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Gannaway said 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.

    He wasn’t pursuing them, he was trying to get water and they pursued him. Nor are the nymphs – in either the story or the art – being used as “passive decoration”, as their interaction with him is the entire point of the scene. Lastly, ‘femme fatale’ seems to be fairly apt here, so why not use it?

    “We think it probably will return, yes, but hopefully contextualised quite differently.

    Oh that should be fun. “Dear patrons. This is a picture of a bunch of supernatural water spirits luring a sailor away by looking like a pretty women. It doesn’t say what happened to him, but he’s never seen again. But you should definitely NOT think of them as femme fatales!”

    • Adam M.
      Posted February 1, 2018 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      I’m pretty sure they meant the title of the room (“In Pursuit of Beauty”). But yeah, men find women beautiful, and want to paint them. I don’t see the problem…

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted February 1, 2018 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      I-do-like-de-Palma’s-movie-of-that-name
      cr

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted February 2, 2018 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        Which, by the way, I’m sure breaches a lot of PC obsessions. ‘Femme Fatale’, I mean.

    • nicky
      Posted February 1, 2018 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      Exactly, it is about water-nymphs luring a hero to his end. I have this feeling that Gannaway would want them in fully Victorian wet dress. Maybe effective too?
      Show me a ‘not censor’ and you’ll see a hypocrite.

      • Ken Phelps
        Posted February 1, 2018 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

        Maybe they could have burkinis painted on.

        • rickflick
          Posted February 1, 2018 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

          Or male nipples painted on.

        • Posted February 5, 2018 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

          You took words out of my mouth!

  8. glen1davidson
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    By the way, I am truly appalled at that smut!

    Can you show us some more disgusting paintings that need to be censored? I want to know what we’re up against, you know…

    Glen Davidson

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 1, 2018 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      As long as you promise to quit doin’ it as soon as you need glasses.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted February 2, 2018 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      Goya, the Nude Maja springs immediately to mind.

      Well, if your mind is anything like mine it does 😉

      cr

    • Posted February 1, 2018 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      That was good. Well put.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted February 1, 2018 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

      Good article.

      They’ll be starting on books next. Once again we’ll be seeing books like Lady Chatterley’s Lover banned – this time because she took advantage of her position of power over her gardener.

      I’m a #MeToo but, as usual, a whole lot of people are going OTT.

      • ploubere
        Posted February 1, 2018 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

        sub

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted February 2, 2018 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

        She did? I never read that bit. (Every copy of Lady C I ever saw automatically fell open at certain particular pages… )

        cr

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted February 2, 2018 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

          It doesn’t matter whether she did or not. People who ban books rarely read them, It is enough to know she is a “Lady” and he is a gardener. :-/

          I’ve read it, but it was so long ago I can’t remember anything about it. I do remember thinking “what’s the big deal”, but maybe that’s because my personal life was much better at the time so reality was better. I’ve still got my copy, so maybe it’s time to read it again!

        • Nobody Special
          Posted February 2, 2018 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

          infiniteimprobabilit, well, they certainly romped and she was his employer. Weren’t they the auto-opening pages?

  9. Posted February 1, 2018 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    And who’s to say the artist wasn’t going to marry the nymph he chose?

  10. DrBrydon
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    You know who else like to remove paintings he didn’t like from museums, don’t you? (hint: Hitler)

    • David Coxill
      Posted February 2, 2018 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      Herman Goring was the opposite ,he removed paintings from museums he liked .

  11. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    And here I thought the worst of the Puritans in Blighty decamped for the colonies back in the days of the Mayflower.

    • Posted February 1, 2018 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      Fun fact – less than half of the Mayflower passengers were Puritans. Many of the non-puritans were folk who were essentially not wanted in Old Blighty and figured it was a way to escape. One of the non-puritans (though he did sign the Compact) was also one of my ancestors – Edward Doty, who is known as the first person convicted of what amounts to a felony (he stole a pig) in the British new world. I come from foyne stock.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted February 1, 2018 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

        Wow, like Fidel emptying out the Cuban prisons and asylums during the Mariel boatlift.

        Sounds like your ancestor Edward Doty was the Age of Discovery’s answer to Tony Montana. 🙂

      • pdx1jtj
        Posted February 1, 2018 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

        Cool. He’s also an ancestor of mine and a colorful one to boot.
        “Doty was one of the Mayflower passengers that have left an extensive record of his personality. He had a quick temper that often was out of control and had many business dealings that in some cases bordered on the fraudulent. Other troublemakers were often removed from Plymouth (i.e. Isaac Allerton was forced out) but Doty lived there throughout the rest of his life.”
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Doty

        • Posted February 1, 2018 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

          Howdy relative! My family comes from his eldest son’s -Edward- side, though my brother thinks it may have been his younger brother Isaac (the record is murky as there were people with identical names).

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted February 1, 2018 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

            Two of you seem awfully happy to be related to a lowdown dirty pig-purloiner. 🙂

            • Posted February 1, 2018 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

              Ah Ken, Ol’ Eddie was a veritable saint compared to some of his descendants (my ancestors). Still, I rather like the fact that he was ornery and tough.

  12. Posted February 1, 2018 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  13. Posted February 1, 2018 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Puritan delusion and repression. This will all end badly for the self-censored.

    There isn’t an under or over sexed teenager in America who doesn’t have access to a retinue of images that surpasses this painting.

    There should be a new saying: if you want a seat at the Colosseum, you get a seat at the Colosseum.

  14. Stonyground
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Hello girls, I’ve just come along to feed the crocodiles.

    • Posted February 1, 2018 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      Work, work, work – hello boys, I’ve missed you.

    • Nobody Special
      Posted February 2, 2018 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

      Best keep yer knees together, then!

  15. JoanL
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    I just can’t condone the removal of artwork depicting the beauty of the human form. Would they display Michaelangelo’s David?

    • Posted February 3, 2018 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      Only if they put tidy whities on him!

  16. Posted February 1, 2018 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    It seems to me that the museum has gotten exactly what it wanted when it removed the painting: the conversation runneth over.

    This is not censorship yet. The museum has not said this is permanent or that the gallery is being tweaked to show no nudity.

    As for your decrying of the potential future “contextualization”, I wonder why additional information is a bad thing in this instance? Are you arguing that their theory of the “Victorian Fantasy” is wrong? If so, why is it wrong?

    I’m personally terrible when it comes to art criticism, so I have no idea whether their theory has merit or not.

    • Posted February 1, 2018 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      Of course it’s censorship: they’re taking the painting off public view because it expresses an idea the curator doesn’t like. As for the contextualization, I’m going on how other, similar paintings have been “contextualized”: pushing the ideological/political sentiments of the curators. Sorry, but we don’t need that in art galleries.

    • Posted February 1, 2018 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      ‘Contextualisation’ means ‘I am more insightful than the artist. I can create a richer artistic experience without even having to lift a paintbrush’.

      • darrelle
        Posted February 1, 2018 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

        Nailed it.

    • eric
      Posted February 1, 2018 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      Are you arguing that their theory of the “Victorian Fantasy” is wrong? If so, why is it wrong?

      Well, for a start, the story the image is taken from was written down around 2400 years ago. So how is it a Victorian fantasy? Second, while it has fantastical elements the story wasn’t fantasy in the sense of being something the author (or likely audienced) wished would happen. Hylas isn’t the hero getting a reward; he’s the object lesson of what not to do. The negative example of what happens to would-be heroes when they stray from the hero’s path.

    • BJ
      Posted February 1, 2018 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

      ” I wonder why additional information is a bad thing in this instance?”

      I assume that “additional information” is BS “analysis” that agrees with a certain political persuasion. I assume that you wouldn’t be very happy if the “contextualization” and the conversation the museum wanted was questioning whether the painting conforms to right-wing or Puritan-with-a-capital-P politics and, if not, why it is evil and should be looked upon by society with disdain, and portraying those positions as the only logical and moral way to think.

  17. Posted February 1, 2018 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely ridiculous. Political correctness has been taken to extremes yet again. The plain stupidity of this move cant be stressed enough

    • DiscoveredJoys
      Posted February 1, 2018 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      It’s a bit of a stretch and over simplification but Puritanism ended up going ‘too far’ and you got a backlash – perhaps Political Correctness has gone too far and Trump is part of the backlash?

  18. Posted February 1, 2018 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    An institution acting like an institution. The administrators involved are probably artistically inclined; trolling them with labels of not puritanism but of governmental chic will cause the taste of bile to be permanently accompany their every breath.

  19. Posted February 1, 2018 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    I see their POV. Why waste valuable wall space when this sort of thing is freely available on the internet.

    • GBJames
      Posted February 1, 2018 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      Huh? Then shut down art museums completely and save the money?

  20. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Any censorship targeted at any work of Greek mythology or Shakespeare has definitely gone too far.

    In the 1990s the BBC aired a 1 hour cartoon adaptation of Wagner’s “Das Rheingold”. The Rhinemaidens were drawn fairly explicitly, but it aired as such on British television, AND was aimed at a young audience. When shown on American television, the Rhinemaidens were blurred out, with a lot more water between them and the camera’s eye than in the Brit version. (For a while both the Brit and American version were viewable in their entirety on YouTube.)

    Arthur Rackham’s equally overt drawings of them were in a book of the Ring cycle marketed about 100 years ago for children!!! This is one of Rackhan’s drawings, not a still from the BBC cartoon.

  21. rickflick
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Utter nonsense. Are we are entering a new era in which the motives of an allegory are questioned? Will they burn the Louvre and start over with a new, modern, style where men and women never interact without a legal contract? Rubbish.

  22. Randall Schenck
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    It is just more of one generation or culture condemning or censoring another that was different from their time. What is the difference between this and censor of books or removing names from buildings because your views today are much different from this individual in his or her day. Mostly it is childish stupidity.

    • eric
      Posted February 1, 2018 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      I don’t put renaming in the same category. Choosing not to honor someone is a bit different (IMO) from trying to censor information about them. Yes there might be some minimal overlap – if the building isn’t named Fred Speckleburger Hall any more, will as many kids look up Fred Speckleburger to see who he was? Realistically, no, they won’t. However removing the name isn’t preventing people from looking up old Fred. It’s not like taking Fred’s biography off the shelves. It’s just not advertising him any more.

      Having said all that, I expect you and I might be pretty close to agreement on how renaming is often badly motivated. If I had to swag numbers on it, I’d say that about 90% of the time it’s done out of sheer greed, another 9% of the time it’s ill thought out virtue signaling, and maybe the remaining 1% of the time it’s due to deep and considerate thought about who may be worthy of the honor.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted February 1, 2018 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

        I think it’s all a matter of being offended based on judgement. The paintings had to go because they now, to the modern view/opinion are no longer appropriate. They were not when painted many years ago. I don’t see much difference to ripping books off the shelf because they now are offensive, although once were almost classics. Some today would do the same with the Jefferson Memorial. I really don’t see much difference. I am not talking about taking for instance, J. Edgar Hoover’s name off the building. It probably never should have gone on it.

        • eric
          Posted February 1, 2018 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

          The difference is, ripping books off shelves prevents people from accessing that knowledge. Changing Fred Speckleburger Hall to Verizon hall does not prevent anyone from accessing knowledge of Fred.

  23. Posted February 1, 2018 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    That is one beautiful, evocative painting.
    But I cannot help but know that a small pond, densely covered in lily pads, is not a pleasant or safe place for skinny dipping. I don’t care if you are magical wood nymphs! Now get out of there this instant, pick the leeches off of each other, and towel off. All getting tetanus shots right away!

  24. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    “… naked nymphs tempting a handsome young man to his doom …”

    “Clare Gannaway, the gallery’s curator of contemporary art, said the aim of the removal was to provoke debate, not to censor.”

    So it’s cherchez la femme on both counts?

  25. Posted February 1, 2018 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    The irony is, this was my pornography growing up.

    Thank you, Arthur Mee for The Children’s Encyclopædia.

    • Posted February 3, 2018 at 5:54 am | Permalink

      I clearly remember one volume of that wonderful encylopædia that opened automatically at a certain page, much like Lady Chatterley’s Lover a few years later.

  26. XCellKen
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    But won’t the Fat Acceptance Folks ™ object when all of the Reubens paintings are removed ???

    The Fat Acceptance Folks ™ v The Censors. Let the fun begin !!!

    The Left continues to eat itself !!!

  27. Adam M.
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    I don’t understand. How is the painting offensive in light of #MeToo and Time’s Up? It’s not like Hylas is sexually harassing the nymphs…

    So the nymphs apparently lured him away to death, bliss, or something that caused him to never be seen again. I don’t see what could be offensive about it. I really doubt the artist was portraying the scene from the story in order to convey “Women are dangerous! Beware!”. They’re nymphs, not humans.

    • BJ
      Posted February 1, 2018 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

      I think it’s the same logic many religious people have used in the past: it’s nudity, and nudity might make someone think nasty thoughts, or is a very nasty thing in itself because it “suggests” things (in this case because someone is being “objectified” or “pursued” or whatever).

  28. Craw
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    More prudish than the Victorians. Now there’s a boast!

    • Posted February 1, 2018 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      I know, right? I can image Victoria murmuring to her Ladies-in-waiting; “We think these people are addle-brained”.

  29. dd
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 2:29 pm | Permalink
  30. Christopher
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    May I ask how the censors decided or determined that the mythological water nymphs were “pubescent”? And maybe clarify if that makes it the equivalent to porn (child or otherwise). I have trouble making sense of people and their social rules at the best of times, so perhaps I’m missing something. (These are honest questions, btw, not jokes) I know little to nothing about the original myth or the painting, much less the intent behind either.

    • Nobody Special
      Posted February 2, 2018 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

      I was wondering about the ‘pubescent’ label, too (part of the Guardian’s blurb rather than the censor’s). There is no way those nymphs look pubescent, which means ‘at, or approaching puberty’. They are clearly modelled on fully-developed adult women, but clearly ‘naked young women’ was neither scandalous nor salacious enough for the Guardian writer; he (I haven’t checked but it’s almost certainly a ‘he’) had to add a suggestion of under-age girls to ramp-up the outrage.
      Will cherubs and putti be the next to go?

      Fun fact; there is a lot of statuary of naked men without genitalia because the Victorians took hammer and chisel to those they couldn’t make ‘decent’ with the addition of a fig leaf. I watched a documentary several years ago in which the curator of a major London museum (possibly either the British Museum or V&A) told of clearing out a basement storage room that hadn’t been looked through for decades, and at the very back they discovered several boxes of marble penises (penii?) that were once attached to statues. Somebody had thought to save them for posterity; unfortunately they hadn’t thought to label them, so there’s little chance of them being re-united.

  31. dogugotw
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Count me as a Parrish fan also. I had the pleasure to live in NH for 17 years and discover how true to life his paintings were, especially his winter scenes. That and the fact that winter skies on bitter cold nights just at dusk were absolutely Parrish Blue…so clear and pure they almost made you ache.

  32. Helen Neaves-Wilde
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Is there any sanity left in this world, i am so sick and tired of puritanical people finding issue with anything and everything. Its time they grew up and started to worry about what is happening to our world rather than the contents of a painting and who it may offend.

  33. DiscoveredJoys
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    It is a painting that shows pubescent, naked nymphs tempting a handsome young man to his doom…

    Actually it shows pubescent, naked nymphs assaulting a handsome young man…

    Establishing the proper perspective is the key starting point for a debate.

    • Nobody Special
      Posted February 2, 2018 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

      I’d say that they were post-pubescent, ie. adult women. Pubescence describes the time of approaching and going through puberty, which realistically is from age twelve to sixteen/eighteen. The nymphs are clearly modelled on young but adult women, but that’s not salacious enough for the Guardian writer.

  34. cruzrad
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    ‘Jesus God, what is happening? I want to eat a Tide pod.’

    That was funny.

  35. Max Blancke
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    The depressing thing is that the curator apparently does not understand that submission to the demands of activists never satisfies them. Instead, they are emboldened to make even more ridiculous demands.

    Because it is never really about the painting or statue. It is about a base human desire to have others submit to their demands. At some point, reasonable people will finally say “enough!”, and refuse to yield. That is how it stops.

  36. ladyatheist
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    What if they renamed it “Dr. Nassar facing judgment”

  37. jamesgart
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    It is art!!!

  38. zoolady
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    OH GOOD GRIEF! I’ll take the painting and hang it here! Then, nobody needs to be corrupted.

  39. Jake Sevins
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    Stop the Presses: imaginary non-human nymphs predating on unwitting gay man deemed too offensive for viewing.

    Wut?

  40. Posted February 1, 2018 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    This is sheer insanity.

  41. BJ
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    25 years ago, these same people would be opposing religious nuts trying to censor such paintings, reminding everyone of the beauty of a woman’s body. Now, a woman’s body is something that may cause impure thoughts or suggest impure things.

  42. Chris Swart
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    Well, at least Clare Gannaway has not burned it. (Yet)

    Woody Allen was right when he warned against this turning into a witch hunt. I predict it will take 8-10 years for people to regain their senses.

    Then, hopefully, we will have a better society with mush less harassment and exploitation, but without the crazy.

  43. Posted February 2, 2018 at 1:11 am | Permalink

    May I just point out that the front page of the Manchester Art Gallery’s web site is currently (Friday 2 February) using a painting of bare naked ladies to advertise a “highlights” tour that takes place on Saturday? Apparently it’s okay to use paintings of naked women when you’re trying to get paying customers in the door.

  44. Posted February 2, 2018 at 3:18 am | Permalink

    Some people do not like sex, ergo they do not like biology, ergo they do not like natural selection, ergo they do not like science.

    • zoolady
      Posted February 2, 2018 at 8:52 am | Permalink

      And so…they don’t want anyone else to experience these things! Who are these people? TALIBAN WANNA’-BEs?

      • BJ
        Posted February 2, 2018 at 9:43 am | Permalink

        Taliban wallabies are SO cute.

        Oh, waNNabees…

        • zoolady
          Posted February 2, 2018 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

          Taliban wallabies carry their weapons in cute little POUCHES!

  45. Jonathan Dore
    Posted February 2, 2018 at 4:02 am | Permalink

    I know. Clare Gannaway could collect all similarly problematic art in her collection into one big exhibition so we can all see how dangerous it was. She could call it something catchy like, say, Entartete Kunst. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degenerate_art#Entartete_Kunst_exhibit

  46. bric
    Posted February 2, 2018 at 4:12 am | Permalink

    As Laurence Sterne said, they order these things better in France
    taken at the Musée d’Orsay a few years ago
    Young visitors enjoy le Dejeuner

    • Nobody Special
      Posted February 2, 2018 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

      Well, that explains the French 🙂

  47. bric
    Posted February 2, 2018 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    “The decision was taken by gallery staff with artist Sonia Boyce, and the painting’s removal during an event on Friday was filmed to be made into a new piece of video art for Boyce’s exhibition at the gallery in March” (BBC)
    In other words it’s a stunt to promote an artist with a show coming up. http://manchesterartgallery.org/…/exhibition/sonia-boyce/

    • David Coxill
      Posted February 2, 2018 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      Ah ,that’s wot i said earlier ,i knewed it all the time.

  48. Mike
    Posted February 2, 2018 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Seems a new age of the Puritans is upon us.

  49. Posted February 2, 2018 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Nudity is absolutely forbidden in Facebook, so I cannot tweet this. But it is so sad that nudity is so forbidden and violence is not.

    • zoolady
      Posted February 3, 2018 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

      Nudity is forbidden but vile language is not?
      What’s next? Little cloth covers on the legs of tables? Having to order an unnamed piece of chicken because we can’t say BREAST?

      • Posted February 3, 2018 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

        This reminds me of a joke that went more or less like this:

        At a dinner, the main guest was a bishop and roast chicken was the main course. The host told the very sexy and buxom maid “Mabel, give the bishop the breast”!

      • rickflick
        Posted February 4, 2018 at 2:54 am | Permalink

        “One hapless guest dropped his white-meat and when stooping to recover it got a better look at the table leg than was considered respectable. Eyebrows lifted. There was a nervous gasp from everyone at the table”.

  50. bric
    Posted February 2, 2018 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    According to the BBC the painting is about to be returned to it’s accustomed spot.
    I think the main thing to note here is that the artist concerned, Sonia Boyce, is primarily a ‘performance artist’; it seems likely that this whole episode was conceived as an art-work and I have to say brilliantly executed by all concerned. D Trump should consider hiring her.

  51. russellblackford
    Posted February 2, 2018 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    My retrospective observations about this episode: http://metamagician3000.blogspot.com.au/

  52. Posted February 3, 2018 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    This reminds me of Ashcroft. Remember?

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/cover-up-at-justice-department/

  53. Posted February 4, 2018 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    It’s a beautiful painting and it’s a shame that conversations like #MeToo are sending such art to the musty archives.

  54. Posted February 7, 2018 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    I’ve just written an opinion piece on the same topic. If you’re interested read here: https://nipslip.wordpress.com/2018/02/07/censorship-art-and-ideology-the-removal-of-hylas-and-the-nymphs/

  55. Posted February 18, 2018 at 1:19 am | Permalink

    There is no place for censorship in art.


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