Scotland Yard Bans Nude Brooke Shields Photograph

The Tate Modern has confiscated the famous Richard Prince Nude photograph of Brooke Shields, when she was 10 years old because it violates UK obscenity laws. Titled "Spiritual America", the Shields photograph is a photograph of a photograph, something Richard Prince often creates.

Scotland Yard also confiscated the Tate exhibition catalog, which contains Richard Prince’s Shields image. The original Richard Prince Photograph was approved by Brooke Shields's Mother, in exchange for payment of just $450! The source photograph had been created by Gary Gross, a commercial photographer, on behalf of Playboy.

"Prince used the image as the source material for his own 1983 piece; he placed it in a gilt frame and displayed it, without labelling or explanation, in a shopfront in a then rundown street in Lower East Side, New York. The title comes from a photograph by Alfred Stieglitz from 1923 of a gelded horse."

The Richard Prince Photograph was to be included in the Tate Modern exhibition titled Pop Life: Art in a Material World . It has been removed from display after a visit to Tate Modern by officers from the obscene publications unit of the Metropolitan Police in London.

The Tate Pop Life Exhibition includes Artworks by Tracey Emin, Keith Haring, Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst and Takashi Murakami.

According to the Tate Modern, Pop Life: Art in a Material World proposes a re-reading of one of the major legacies of Pop Art.

"The Exhibition takes Andy Warhol’s notorious provocation that ‘good business is the best art’ as a starting point in reconsidering the legacy of Pop Art and the influence of the movement’s chief protagonist. Pop Life: Art in a Material World looks ahead to the various ways that artists since the 1980s have engaged with mass media and cultivated artistic personas creating their own signature 'brands'.

"Pop Life: Art in a Material World argues that Andy Warhol’s most radical lesson is reflected in the work of artists of subsequent generations who, rather than simply representing or commenting upon our mass media culture, have infiltrated the publicity machine and the marketplace as a deliberate strategy."

"The exhibition begins with a focused look at Warhol’s late work, examining his related initiatives as a television personality, paparazzo, and publishing impresario. Highlights include a number of works from his initially controversial series known as the retrospectives or reversals."

"A Scotland Yard source said the actions of its officers were "common sense" and were taken to pre-empt any breach of the law. The source said the image of Shields was of potential concern because it was of a 10-year-old, and could be viewed as sexually provocative."

Clearly the arrest of Oscar winning director Roman Polanski does not help public good will and may have influenced Scotland Yard. On Sept. 26, 2009, in a surprising move arranged by prosecutors in Los Angeles and Washington, the authorities in Switzerland arrested Mr. Polanski as he arrived at the Zurich airport, paving the way for possible extradition.

"In an essay in the exhibition catalogue Jack Bankowsky, co-curator of the exhibition, describes the image as of "a bath-damp and decidedly underage Brooke Shields"

"When Prince invites us to ogle Brooke Shields in her prepubescent nakedness, his impulse has less to do with his desire to say our the lubricious titillations that it was shot to spark in its original context … than with a profound fascination for the child star's story."

Joseph K. Levene Fine Art, Ltd.

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