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Tate Modern To Display Nude Picture Of Brooke Shields

PTI 30 Sep 2009, 7:25:33 IST

Tate Modern is going to display a  nude photograph of Brooke Shields at the age of ten. This has shocked critics who have demanded that the picture be withdrawn. They said, the picture titled Spiritual America, could attract paedophiles to the gallery.

The image will go on display from Wednesday in an exhibition also featuring explicit sex acts and works made from the covers of pornography magazines.

Richard Prince's 1983 image of Miss Shields shows her naked, oiled and wearing make-up, looking directly at the viewer. It is hung in a room at the gallery in London with a notice on the door warning visitors they may find the image 'challenging'.

The exhibition shows American artist Jeff Koons' Dirty-Jeff On Top' statue standing  in front of Made In Heaven, at the Pop Life, Art In A Material World to be staged at the Tate Modern The artist described it as 'an extremely complicated photo of a naked girl who looks like a boy made up to look like a woman'.

But Michele Elliott, founder of the children's charity Kidscape, called the image 'obscene' and 'soft kiddy porn'.  She added: 'Putting a sign on the door like that means every paedophile in the land will head straight to that room.'

Simon Calvert, of the Christian Institute, said parents of young girls would be shocked by the decision to show the image.  A spokesman for the Tate said the photograph was 'an important work' and had taken legal advice before displaying it.

The work is in fact a photo of another photo of  Shields, taken by Gary Gross in 1975. In the 1980s,  Shields and her mother made an unsuccessful legal attempt to stop him republishing the picture.

Gallery chiefs themselves admit they sought legal advice before including the picture, titled Spiritual America, in the Pop Life: Art In A Material World show.

The exhibition also features huge sexually explicit images of penetration and works made from the pages of pornographic magazines.

Richard Prince's image of Shields is hung in a special room at the south London gallery with a notice on the door warning visitors they may find the image 'challenging'.

Prince's picture was originally shown anonymously in a disused shop in a run-down area of New York, and the Tate show is believed to be the work's first appearance in a UK gallery.

The original Gross picture was taken after the artist hired Shields to pose as a model in 1975 and is said to have been done with her mother's consent.

When the photographer later tried to republish the pictures in the 1980s Shields and her mother launched a legal battle to stop him, but he won the case.

Michele Elliott founder of children's charity Kidscape criticised the gallery's decision to exhibit the picture as a work of art.

She said: 'This is the kind of excuse people make for showing soft kiddy porn and I can't think anyone would want their child portrayed this way and I think it is obscene to do so.

She is not old enough at that age to give consent for this to be taken. This has been put in a pouty adult way, it sounds like, and to masquerade under the guise of edgy art is ridiculous. It is soft kiddy porn. Putting a sign on the door like that means every paedophile in the land will head straight to that room.'

She added: 'I don't care if they show naked adults, I have got no trouble with nudity, but I do have trouble with children being portrayed in sexually provocative ways. They should have stuck with their gut feeling and excluded this work.'