Naked Brooke Shields Picture Pulled from Tate Exhibit

0 Posted by - October 1, 2009 - News/Blog

One of 14 controversial photos of Brooke Shields at age 10 taken by fashion photographer Garry GrossThe controversial photograph shows Shields nude in a bathtub. Photo: Gary Gross

In 1975, a ten year-old Brooke Shields stood for a portrait from photographer Gary Gross. Urged by a mother eager to make her daughter a star, Shields posed naked in a bathtub, oiled and done up in make-up. Shortly thereafter the family signed away the picture’s rights to Gross. Since then the photo has been at the center of over three decade’s worth of controversy and dispute.

Now, 35 years later, the infamous photograph is back in the headlines. Officials at London’s Tate Museum had planned to present a photograph of the original at an exhibit called “Pop Life: Art In A Material World.” Created by artist Richard Prince, the piece (dubbed “Spiritual America”) is supposed to be a disturbing commentary on the sexualisation and commodification of youth in America.

Needless to say, not everyone recognizes the artistic merits of pictures of naked children. Kid’s rights activists claim the exhibit is a virtual “magnet for pedophiles,” and say that allowing a photograph of this nature only encourages the abuse of other innocent children.

“It is certainly not art,” said Michele Elliot, founder of Kidscape, a U.K. organization that fights to stop child abuse. “Brooke Shields was 10 years old when this picture was taken. She could not have given informed consent to it being used. It must be bordering on child pornography.”

She added, “if you are using a picture of a naked child to bring people to your exhibition, then you are exploiting that child. It’s as if they are using a 10-year-old girl for bait. I find it disturbing and they should be ashamed of themselves.”

After a visit from London’s Metropolitan Police on tuesday, it was decided the controversial photograph would be indefinitely removed from the exhibit. Officials are currently debating whether or not the photograph is illegal and violates Great Britain’s Obscene Publications Act, or if it can be deemed of artistic value.

11 Comments

  • Anonymous May 31, 2010 - 9:54 pm Reply

    these pictures should be considered child pornography

  • Wayne October 14, 2009 - 3:37 am Reply

    This story has gotten so much attention, and many news report says the same thing: People can view this image online. I think that all of the people who were trying to stop pedophiles from seeing this picture have just introduced a whole new set of pedophiles to this picture.

  • Wayne October 14, 2009 - 3:37 am Reply

    This story has gotten so much attention, and many news report says the same thing: People can view this image online. I think that all of the people who were trying to stop pedophiles from seeing this picture have just introduced a whole new set of pedophiles to this picture.

  • Paul October 6, 2009 - 4:59 am Reply

    Brooke Shields was not harmed in making this photo. I doubt if any of Lewis Carroll’s subjects were, either. We’re surrounded by this (art, crap, smut, whatever you want to call it) anyway in everything from architecture to greeting cards. Frankly, I think it’s crap or kitsch, or just weird.

    The issue borders on criminalizing thoughts, and it is awfully presumptuous on the part of the police and the critics to suppose that they intended to exploit Brooke Shields to promote their show. Brooke Shields is exploitable, and she charges for it – for one. For another thing, where else in our society does this happen? Do not taverns and pubs promote alcoholism by advertising that they sell beer, then? Shall we toss Victoria’s Secret catalogs for the sake of all the young boys going blind every day? Whose to say there are not even GIRLS getting off on that… or worse.

    The evil is not in the depiction of the naked body, but in the actions of those who defile young boys and girls… some in the name of the very power trying to stop it.

  • Paul October 6, 2009 - 4:59 am Reply

    Brooke Shields was not harmed in making this photo. I doubt if any of Lewis Carroll’s subjects were, either. We’re surrounded by this (art, crap, smut, whatever you want to call it) anyway in everything from architecture to greeting cards. Frankly, I think it’s crap or kitsch, or just weird.

    The issue borders on criminalizing thoughts, and it is awfully presumptuous on the part of the police and the critics to suppose that they intended to exploit Brooke Shields to promote their show. Brooke Shields is exploitable, and she charges for it – for one. For another thing, where else in our society does this happen? Do not taverns and pubs promote alcoholism by advertising that they sell beer, then? Shall we toss Victoria’s Secret catalogs for the sake of all the young boys going blind every day? Whose to say there are not even GIRLS getting off on that… or worse.

    The evil is not in the depiction of the naked body, but in the actions of those who defile young boys and girls… some in the name of the very power trying to stop it.

  • IanW October 5, 2009 - 6:47 pm Reply

    Email sent to Michele Elliot:

    “Michele —

    I am a supporter of the terrific work your organisation does, and have seen at
    first hand the damage child sexual abuse can do.

    I am though a photographer and write in response to reports of your comments
    re the Brooke Shields photograph which was due to be shown in the Tate
    exhibition highlighting the sexualisation of youth in the USA.

    I venture with extreme timidity into this minefield, but suggest to you that
    this is a very grey area. Outside of the range of clear child pornography
    there are many images of children — in photography and other fine arts —
    which could be appealing to paedophiles, and I put it to you that our culture
    would be the worse for it if all potentially appealing images were banned.
    Should those who do not regard children as sexual objects be forced to have
    their culture restricted to prevent the exposure of such imagery to those who
    do? If a paedophile is attracted to an image of mine of a child, am I
    encouraging and supporting paedophiles? Where should our society, and I, draw
    the line?

    Reading on in your quoted response, I notice that you state that as a 10 yo,
    the child could not have given informed consent. May I suggest that this
    argument holds little water? It it well established in our society that the
    parents or guardians of minors are granted this legal power and, to the best
    of my knowledge, the parent(s) of Ms Shields chose of their own free will to
    so exercise it.

    I implore you to not drag your wonderful organisation into this murky arena.
    Britain is already a society where parents fear to photograph and interact
    with their own and other’s children and the persistent fear of paedophiles on
    the doorstep has already done a generation of children terrific damage.”

  • IanW October 5, 2009 - 6:47 pm Reply

    Email sent to Michele Elliot:

    “Michele —

    I am a supporter of the terrific work your organisation does, and have seen at
    first hand the damage child sexual abuse can do.

    I am though a photographer and write in response to reports of your comments
    re the Brooke Shields photograph which was due to be shown in the Tate
    exhibition highlighting the sexualisation of youth in the USA.

    I venture with extreme timidity into this minefield, but suggest to you that
    this is a very grey area. Outside of the range of clear child pornography
    there are many images of children — in photography and other fine arts —
    which could be appealing to paedophiles, and I put it to you that our culture
    would be the worse for it if all potentially appealing images were banned.
    Should those who do not regard children as sexual objects be forced to have
    their culture restricted to prevent the exposure of such imagery to those who
    do? If a paedophile is attracted to an image of mine of a child, am I
    encouraging and supporting paedophiles? Where should our society, and I, draw
    the line?

    Reading on in your quoted response, I notice that you state that as a 10 yo,
    the child could not have given informed consent. May I suggest that this
    argument holds little water? It it well established in our society that the
    parents or guardians of minors are granted this legal power and, to the best
    of my knowledge, the parent(s) of Ms Shields chose of their own free will to
    so exercise it.

    I implore you to not drag your wonderful organisation into this murky arena.
    Britain is already a society where parents fear to photograph and interact
    with their own and other’s children and the persistent fear of paedophiles on
    the doorstep has already done a generation of children terrific damage.”

  • IanW October 5, 2009 - 5:44 pm Reply

    So if I take a photograph of a child and then use it to promote my work I am exploiting the child? Or if a paedophile gets off on a photo of mine I’m encouraging and supporting paedophilia?

    I know where they’re coming from, and in general I support it, but they need to think it through.

  • IanW October 5, 2009 - 5:44 pm Reply

    So if I take a photograph of a child and then use it to promote my work I am exploiting the child? Or if a paedophile gets off on a photo of mine I’m encouraging and supporting paedophilia?

    I know where they’re coming from, and in general I support it, but they need to think it through.

  • Terry Thomas Photos / Atlanta October 1, 2009 - 10:42 am Reply

    You wrote, “She could not have given informed consent to it being used.”

    That’s what parents are for. Her mother consented and signed a photo release.

    Terry Thomas…
    the photographer
    Atlanta, Georgia USA
    http://www.TerryThomasPhotos.com

    PS
    I don’t do nudes of kids. Never have. Never will. Even if the parent would want and is willing to sign a release. Still a Boy Scout after 55 years.

  • Terry Thomas Photos / Atlanta October 1, 2009 - 10:42 am Reply

    You wrote, “She could not have given informed consent to it being used.”

    That’s what parents are for. Her mother consented and signed a photo release.

    Terry Thomas…
    the photographer
    Atlanta, Georgia USA
    http://www.TerryThomasPhotos.com

    PS
    I don’t do nudes of kids. Never have. Never will. Even if the parent would want and is willing to sign a release. Still a Boy Scout after 55 years.

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