USA/Europe: Less incidents of arts censorship over indecency

13 October 2015

On 28 September 2015, Apollo Magazine published an article by Philippa Malas which seeks to analyse the current situation for freedom of artistic expression in Europe and the United States. The article runs through examples of how issues of freedom of expression and art are currently playing out in various countries.

In May 2015, the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction was presented to the world with smudgy veils hovering over three sets of abstract, painted, yet apparently offensive breasts. Fox 5 News decided that the American people needed protecting from the brazen nudity of Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’) when New York’s Fox affiliate channel was reporting on the record-breaking price – $179.4 million – that Picasso’s painting had fetched at Christie’s.

Artistic material depicting sex or pornography – or violence, or religion – has often been subject to censorship in the past. Legal terms used to police these areas include obscenity, indecency, and blasphemy. But with the exception of the Fox 5 example above, 2015 has actually presented few instances of arts censorship, or limitation on freedom of expression, in connection to indecency or obscenity, writes Philippa Malas.

“Is a subtle shift occurring?,” she asks: “Artworks which take race or religion as their subject now face increasingly difficult times, indicating a change in society’s concerns triggered by world events such as Charlie Hebdo, the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, and the complexities of the fallout after the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Read Philippa Malas’ analysis:

» Apollo Magazine – 28 September 2015:
Indecent Exposure: Art and freedom of expression

See also:

» Apollo Magazine – 18 May 2015:
Avert your Eyes: Censored Art Masterpieces

» – 13 May 2015:
Fox News Bizarrely Censors $179M Picasso Painting

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