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The great Renaissance cover-up

4 May 2019

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories

A bumper week for art censorship: woohoo! First off, artist Betty Tompkins was ousted from Instagram for sharing an image of her work Fuck Painting #1. The painting in question, a photorealistic depiction of penetration, is in the collection of the Centre Pompidou, but the social-media gatekeepers weren’t having any of it. The image was removed from the platform and the following day, after Tompkins had shared a textual description of the painting, Instagram deactivated her account. (It has since been reinstated.)

Still, it could have been worse. A former student of Pensacola Christian College in Florida has revealed the extent to which the Baptist college has gone to shield its students from the venal perversion of… Renaissance art. The alumnus – who goes by the handle scopecreepstudio on the Imgur platform – uploaded images from an art-reference book in the college library in which the merest whiff of flesh had been blacked out with a marker pen.

Works subjected to very enthusiastic suppression included Titian’s Bacchus and Ariadne, the Mona Lisa (that décolletage!) and Bronzino’s Allegory with Venus and Cupid, which was rendered all but abstract by the censor’s pen. Something for Instagram to experiment with?

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