All works by the British artist Graham Ovenden were removed from Tate’s website in 2013, after the artist was found guilty of indecency and indecent assault against two children that had modelled for him. Now the Tate has reinstated images of three abstract landscapes in their permanent collection by the convicted child abuser on the gallery’s website.
Tate decided to remove the works from catalogue after the 2013 conviction, largely due to the fact that the charges against Ovenden happened between 1972–1985, and the works in the Tate collection date from 1970–1975. All the works in the collection depict young girls some of whom are fully clothed others in explicitly erotic scenarios. Because there is no way to determine if the models in any of these specific images had suffered abuse, the Tate decided to remove all of the works.
The portraits of young girls, 31 of which are in the museum’s collection, will not be reinstated in the online catalogue, as reported by the Art Newspaper. Although the images of the works are to remain unavailable – the titles, dates, and all other details are still available to the public, and it is only possible to view the work by appointment with the gallery.
A spokesperson for Tate explained: “Tate reviewed information relating to the conviction of Graham Ovenden. The review sought to clarify whether there is a direct connection between the works by Ovenden held in the national collection and the crimes of which he has been convicted. It subsequently became clear that it would not be possible to establish whether such a connection exists and the works therefore remain unavailable to view online. The works can be viewed in the prints and drawings room at Tate Britain by application.”
In a similar move the Victoria and Albert Museum, which owns 14 works by the artist, housed in their permanent collection, made the decision to remove over half of the images from their website following Ovenden’s conviction.