The Flemish tourist board has created a video protesting Facebook’s continued censorship of old master paintings on their social media site. The government sponsored agency uses humor to send-up Facebook in a short video which has gone viral.
“Even though we secretly have to laugh about it, your cultural censorship is making life rather difficult for us.” Peter De Wilde, Visit Flanders
De Wilde added “Most Flemish museums have signed the letter” protesting the actions of Facebook whose bots are known to have removed a number of posts featuring nude paintings by Flemish artists including Rubens. Belgium’s VRT News, Flemish-language public broadcaster, has reported media posts have recently been taken down that include iconic paintings, some hundreds of years old.
Rubens (1577-1640) was one of the most influential artists of the 17th century, and was famous for his Baroque paintings, many featuring fleshy nudes including cherubs. Toerisme Vlaanderen says that it has issued an open letter to Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, saying: “We have noticed that Facebook consistently rejects works of art by our beloved Peter Paul Rubens.
The Brussels Times notes that it may be a “playful protest” to attract tourists to exhibitions hosted by the Visit Flanders agency. A number of “Paintings by Flemish Masters” exhibitions are currently underway at a number of Visit Flanders locations in northern Belgium. The Brussels Times notes that the Flemish Office has a 2018-2020 cultural plan to promote the works of Rubens, as well as other 15th-17th century Flemish painters including Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Jan van Eyck.
This is not the first time the Social Media site has removed iconic paintings and sculpture from its website. Recently, a Minister in the Danish Government was banned from posting on Facebook for using a photo of the ‘Little Mermaid’ as her cover photo. Facebook was also taken to court by a French national for having his account suspended for uploading Gustave Courbet’s The Origin of the World, a painting housed in the Musée d’Orsay (since 1995). The teacher won the case but Facebook said there was no way the deleted account could be reinstated.