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a nude painting by lisa yuskavage is being censored by australian newsagents

'Why does an oil painting of a naked woman by a female painter at the top of her game warrant censorship when the images of objectified female bodies we consume in advertising and mass media every day are considered business as usual?' asks editor Neha...

by Hannah Ongley
|
Aug 9 2016, 8:19pm

@vaultartmagazine

Since the censorship of women's bodies rightly became a subject of much ridicule, feminists have been finding a myriad creative solutions to social media misogyny. Whether it's women pasting male nipples onto their naked breasts or men posing with the deleted nipples of Chrissy Teigen and Miley Cyrus, the question of when nipples are offensive is constantly up for debate. It's not limited to Instagram either. Australian art magazine Vault was recently forced to censor its latest cover — an oil painting of a topless pregnant woman by New York artist Lisa Yuskavage — with silly yellow stickers before it was sent to newsstands. Apparently distributors feared that stockists would refuse to display the cover in its original state. 

In a post on Vault's Instagram page, editor Neha Kale explains that Yuskavage's painting, Brood, was selected for the cover precisely because of the esteemed artist's provocative approach to gender politics. "Yuskavage, who studied at the Yale School of Art and whose paintings can fetch over a million dollars on the market — a feat that's still, sadly, all too rare for women artists — has spent the last two decades wrestling the female nude away from the male figurative tradition," Kale wrote. "Whether you love them or loathe them, her paintings, which combine Old Master techniques with seamy pop culture references, are layered, blazingly original, and invite a second look." 

The fact that the painting was deemed offensive is sadly ironic considering that Yuskavage has spent three decades ignoring the suggestion that she make her paintings more modest. "I try to never edit anything out of my work," she told us last year, revealing that during one period when she tried to be more demure, she was battling a very serious bout of depression. Kale points out these criticisms are rarely made of female bodies that exist only for male gratification. 

"Unfortunately, the fact that Brood, which shows a pregnant woman with exposed breasts and is painted in sherbert tones, has been deemed too provocative for Australian newsagent distribution (you might notice yellow stickers placed over the subject's nipples) raises interesting questions about a world in which female bodies are considered taboo — unless, of course, they exist for male gratification," Kale continues. "Why does an oil painting of a naked woman by a female painter at the top of her game warrant censorship when the images of objectified female bodies we consume in advertising and mass media every day are considered business as usual?"

Like many instances in which female bodies are deemed offensive, the stickers covering this issue of Vault only serve to highlight how ludicrous the censorship situation is. As one reader pointed out on Instagram, at least the stickers are color-coordinated. 

Credits


Text Hannah Ongley
Image via Instagram