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Artist told to cover willy in ad row

Hannah Cleaver · 19 May 2011, 11:14

Published: 19 May 2011 11:14 GMT+02:00

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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.

Story continues below…

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.

Hannah Cleaver (hannah.cleaver@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

15:31 May 19, 2011 by derExDeutsche
come on, Germans, please. keep the photo realistic genitals from my lebensraum, is that too much to ask? ya freaks !
17:19 May 19, 2011 by Gretl
I am pretty tired of the double-standard. Either nakey-ness is OK or it's not. But when it is fine to show women in erotic poses to sell everything, where's my beef?
01:34 May 20, 2011 by BritishNaturism
You ask us what we think, yet you don't let us see the poster - you have censored it just as the Süddeutsche Zeitung wish.

This is the problem with censorship; it is arbitrary and unaccountable; it is one person's prejudice foisted on the rest of us. American corporations such as Apple and Facebook export their prejudice every time they refuse an App for the Apple store or remove a picture they don't like on someone's profile.

Earlier this evening I came across a picture of a quite well endowed naked male statue outside a toy museum in Prague. I would have expected similar of Germany, but maybe the slow drip-feed of US prudery is taking hold even there!
13:14 May 20, 2011 by michael4096
I agree with the censored sticker, but it should have a "... by the Süddeutsche Zeitung" with it so that readers can choose whether or not they support the censors. Falling sales is a great counter-balance to forcing your views on people.
14:54 May 23, 2011 by Eddie99
As you should be aware - Male Genitals are on the outside whereas Female Genitals are on the inside - that is the difference here
16:39 May 24, 2011 by strahlungsamt
If that happened in Berlin, the male genitals would be art while the female genitals would be sexism. (The Catholic Church has the same idea but calls it sin, not sexism - ever been to the Sistine Chapel?)

Guess the Schwaben don't understand great art.
18:04 May 24, 2011 by bartschaff
Ridiculous. Really disappointing to find such prudish censorship here in Germany...

For a small image of the full poster (in an article comparing it with Michelangelo's David):

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