March 24, 2010

Unbelievable: Nudes removed from city building in Connecticut town

 One of Roger Van Damme's nudes--but not the one in the story.

According to Channel 3, a painting of a nude figure hanging in Milford town hall was taken down after complaints that it was too racy for public display. Officials also took down other works that had been on display for decades. "There is now a bare spot on the wall of an exhibition of works by the late Roger Van Damme that went displayed in the Parson’s complex in Milford almost a month ago. The painting in question is now tucked away from public view. Bill Meddick, of the Milford Fine Arts Council, said, 'I'm kind of surprised by all the things that are going on.' Meddick has an interest in all of the uproar because, among other things, he painted one of the other works that has been pulled, one that had been hanging in the complex for thirty years without problems. Meddick said, 'I'm not offended by it. I'm trying to figure it out. I guess it's like, I don't know, the idea that kids will see it or something. I mean, I don't think anything would happen to them, but I don't think anything too bad.'

"Some city employees, who did not want to speak on camera, said some of the paintings were OK, but one was a bit over the top for a public building. Tom Ivers, of Milford Community Development, said, 'Content makes a difference and everyone perceives things in their own way. Art that creates controversy is probably a good thing.' The remaining Van Damm paintings will hang in the complex as part of the permanent collection. He left the works in the care of the Milford Fine Arts Council when he died in 2008. The painting that was pulled from the walls will be on display at the offices of the Fine Arts Council."

Video news clip  with images of the paintings.

4 comments:

These were undoubtedly removed because of religion. Why don't you put a fig leaf over it like you've ruined art in the past. Kids see boobs and have probably even drank from them. People are culturally retarded if they think this is unacceptable art in a public space. Feed the mind not the ignorance people!

It seems the more contemporary the image the less at ease the public is. The same image in an 18th century setting probably wouldn't have caused a stir.

People seem to need the distance of time between them and nudity. Without this, they see it as nakedness.

Unfortunately (or not, depending on your taste), we no longer have the kind of public that used to cover acres and acres of buildings with "classical" nudes. So, people are taken aback and some are shocked when a non-classical nude shows up in a public space. Heck, the hanging committee in my art space, which I share with 40 other artist studios, won't hang my nudes for our galleryshows so this type of censorship doesn't surprise me. I would have liked to have seen an image of the piece that caused the controversy. If it was as sensual and languid as the one pictured here, I'm not sure it's appropriate for a public building - especially a town hall which is a very political place.

I'm not surprised by the town's decision to remove the paintings due to the complaints, but I also believe that they could find a better setting to display them if people are getting all worked up about it. Just because the immediate public does not see the town hall as an appropriate location doesn't mean the paintings cannot be displayed in another setting like a library. If it is children they are worried about seeing the paintings then don't put it in the children's sections or reading areas. It is ironic to me that an area that prides itself on being so old, historic, and culturally diverse would make such a fuss over a couple of old paintings that they now feel are offensive if displayed in their town hall. If that is the biggest problem they have to worry about in Milford maybe they should look into improving other aspects of their town like education and learn to enjoy art for the beauty of what it is.

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