Les Notes de Véculture a well respected French blog alerted the art world on Monday that Facebook removed an image of Gerhard Richter’s “Ema” from the Pompidou Center’s Facebook page. The photo was part of the online social networking campaign for the museum’s Richter retrospective, which was recently at Tate Modern in London. The exhibition is running from June 6 through September 24.
The Facebook image had received 1,300 “likes” before it was pulled yesterday. Les Notes de Véculture sighted “institutional puritanism” in the USA. The Pompidou Centre lodged a complaint and Facebook humbly reposted the Richter image. It now raises issues about Facebook’s value as a platform for the promotion of art and free expression, as it seems unable to differentiate art from pornography. Gonzague Gauthier the Pompidou Center’s digital projects manager utilised Twitter on Monday to complain about the censorship, Facebook’s French PR agency contacted him to apologise. Facebook has a policy of banning nude photos, however nude paintings and sculptures are allowed.
Facebook has censored other artworks on several occasions but never a work from a major museum website. Although user accounts posting Gustave Courbet’s painting “The Origin of the World” has been taken down. The New York Academy of Art has also had the work of students removed from their website. Facebook apologized to the art college for the mistake, but the issue of the Courbet painting is still pending review.
Freedom of speech should be a right afforded to all users of social networking sites and as facebook expands into the Middle East, China and Asia the company seems to be losing it’s way in protecting these basic human rights and western values. What do you think? Comment Below!
Image: © Gerhard Richter, 2012 (Image altered By ArtLyst)