Painting of naked nymphs removed from Manchester Art Gallery

1 February 2018, 11:40

An art gallery has taken down a painting depicting naked nymphs "to prompt conversations about how we display and interpret artworks".

Manchester Art Gallery took down the painting of JW Waterhouse's Hylas and the Nymphs and replaced it with a notice informing people that a temporary space has been left to start a conversation about what's "relevant in the 21st century".

The gallery's curator of contemporary art, Clare Gannaway, says it is not about censorship, but the aim is to provoke debate.

"It wasn't about denying the existence of particular artworks," she said, according to the Guardian.

Visitors to the gallery have stuck Post-it notes around the notice with their reactions.

The removal of the painting is itself an artistic act which will feature in an upcoming show.

Artist Michael Browne, who was present during the removal, says he disagrees with the move.

"I don't like the replacement and removal of art and being told 'that's wrong and this is right'. They are using their power to veto art in a public collection," he said.

Ms Gannaway said the painting "probably will return" but added it will be "hopefully contextualised quite differently".

"It is not just about that one painting, it is the whole context of the gallery," she said.

This is not the first time art has caused a debate about what's acceptable.

In 2014, Leena McCall's Portrait of Ms Ruby May, standing, was taken down from The Mall Gallery in central London because it was too "pornographic and disgusting", the artist said.

McCall's painting depicts a woman standing up, showing her pubic hair and cleavage, while smoking a pipe.

New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art refused to take down Therese Dreaming, a 1938 painting by Balthus, after a petition raised 11,000 signatures calling for it to be removed because it shows a 12-year-old girl with her legs open and her underwear on show.