The Artist, the Censor, and the Nude: A Tale of Morality and Appropriation

Glenn Harcourt. DoppelHouse, $34.95 (180p) ISBN 978-0-9970034-20
After encountering censored images of canonical Western art in books published in Iran, the American painter Pamela Joseph was inspired reproduce the redacted images as paintings. The works in her Censored series provide the jumping off point for art critic Harcourt to explore appropriation and the construction of culture in 21st century. Harcourt’s first essay examines the futility of Iranian censors’ attempts at “erasing” nudity in art books, because it’s not easy to mask what is underneath, particularly in an age of open dissemination and appropriation of images through broadcast media and the internet. Joseph’s artwork demonstrates this futility, particularly in the painting Censored Olympia by Manet, in which the nude subject of Manet’s painting is rigorously scribbled out, giving the model an even more aggressive presence and adding layers of context. The second half of the book provides an overview of contemporary art in Iran and examines the ways Iranian artists work around or push against government and cultural restrictions in creating their work. The book concludes with other examples of censored art for readers’ own interpretations. Thoughtful and rigorous, the book provides an excellent survey of contemporary censorship. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2017
Release date: 09/01/2017
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