Facebook censors 150-year-old Courbet painting


This is a French TV video, about Facebook censoring Gustave Courbet‘s painting L’origine du monde in 2011.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands, today:

In France, a teacher and Facebook argue today about a 149 year old painting. The man posted in 2011 a picture of L’Origine du Monde (The Origin of the World) by Gustave Courbet on his Facebook page, and the social media corporation deleted his account.

The painting shows the naked lower body of a woman lying on a bed, pudendal towards the viewer. An Ottoman ambassador in Paris is said to have commissioned Courbet’s painting for his personal erotica collection in 1866.

Facebook considers the work of art to be offensive. The teacher, in his fifties, an art lover and a father of three, thinks that is absurd. The judge will as of today consider whether it is pornography or art.

Scandalize

For Facebook, there is even more at stake. In its rules, it says that in case of litigation US law prevails. Against that, the French teacher has already been objected successfully . The French court deems itself competent to consider the case.

Facebook did not agree with that and appealed. “It will be a long legal battle,” says correspondent Ron Linker.

The original of the painting which measures 50 by 50 centimeters hangs in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. “When you walk towards the painting, there is an accompanying text, in which the museum warns that this painting does not cease to shock” says Linker. “That’s one and a half a century later still the case, perhaps exactly what the artist wanted.”

Cases of art censorship on Facebook continue to surface. The latest work deemed “pornographic” is the 30,000 year-old nude statue famously known as the Venus of Willendorf, part of the Naturhistorisches Museum (NHM) collection in Vienna. An image of the work posted on Facebook by Laura Ghianda, a self-described “artivist”, was removed as inappropriate content despite four attempts to appeal the decision.: here.

“Edouard Manet’s ‘Olympia’ scandalized nearly everyone when it was first exhibited at the 1865 Paris Salon, its nude subject confronting the viewer with an unflinching gaze and brazen sexuality. Francisco Goya’s Nude Maja, created over half of a century earlier, was similarly shocking, both because of the model’s visible pubic hair and palpable lack of shame. A third equally heretical and pivotal nude painting, however, is often erased from the conversation: American artist Romaine Brooks’ 1910 ‘White Azaleas.'” (Read more here)

“As art lovers know all too well, the art history canon is also subjected to censorship on social media, with boobies crafted by the greatest minds in art history deemed overly scandalous for Facebook, even hundreds of years after their creation. So, we’ve decided to tidy up these naughty archives, replacing the womanly nipples of yore with their masculine (and totally, obviously unobjectionable) counterparts.” (Read more here)

Journalist Laurie Penny banned from Facebook for using pseudonym: here.