Artist told to cover willy in ad row

Hannah Cleaver
Hannah Cleaver - [email protected]
Artist told to cover willy in ad row
Photo: DPA

Organisers of an art exhibition in Baden-Württemberg have been told to cover up the penis of a sculpture depicting a naked man before posters advertising the show will be allowed to go on public display.


The dispute has boiled over despite the fact images of a naked woman offered up on a piece of cheese had previously been deemed acceptable in the southwestern German state.

“How ridiculous is this? We have the principle of freedom of art in this country, and this is clearly art," Daniel Schreiber, curator of the Tübingen Kunsthalle, told The Local on Thursday. "The male form has been the subject of artworks for thousands of years. It’s unbelievable that these demands are being made to cover it up.”

He said the plan had been to display 330 posters around Stuttgart advertising the show ‘Re Figured’ by Evan Penny, a Canadian artist who creates sculptures of images which have been subjected to digital alteration.

He takes photographs of people, changes them using the everyday tools of the media and then makes life-like sculptures of the results.

"I am surprised and disappointed," Penny told The Local via email.

"There is neither any voyeuristic nor erotic intent in this work. This is an image of a sculpture that refers to the long historic tradition of figurative (often nude) statuary."

Schreiber added, “There is nothing sexual about the work, nothing sexist. It’s an exaggeration of political correctness. The intention of these images is being ignored, which is all about the distortion of the human image by the media.

“We had an exhibition at the start of last year featuring Mel Ramos work and the poster was a picture of a naked woman sitting on a piece of cheese, this was clearly playing with sexism and the idea of a woman being objectified. There was no complaint about this.”

He said Penny’s work was not in the slightest sexual, but was all about the perception of the human form and the distortion of that perception.

Schreiber said the Süddeutsche Zeitung had rejected the Kunsthalle’s advert for the show, which opens on June 2, saying it was ‘too liberal.’

Stuttgart city authorities have also banned the poster as it is, saying the offending penis – which is not erect – would have to be covered over if the poster is to be put up in public.

Schreiber said on Thursday he was waiting for a reaction to his suggestion that the poster be covered with a sticker of the word "Censored" to cover up the artwork's willy.


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