Part monograph, part historical analysis, and part feminist critique, this hybrid book examines the art and politics of “The Nude” in various cultural contexts. Responding to books of canonical Western art that have been pirated and censored in Iran, artist Pamela Joseph creates a series of paintings that whimsically appropriate the censored versions in order to create entirely new works. By comparing images of Roman statues, sultry odalisques, their censored Iranian versions, and Joseph’s paintings, the rigorous, culturally-measured analysis of art historian Glenn Harcourt elucidates both cross-cultural censorship of bodily images and the development of abstraction in art. Historical enlightenment abounds: the censored image of Duchamp’s Fountain reflects on controversies from its original display in 1919; Picasso’s Orientalism leads to the Iranian censor’s pixilated color-study, further abstracted by Joseph, but also blurred out by Fox News. Manet’s Olympia is unbound yet contained by three different views of female sexuality, and censored Renaissance paintings echo Duchamp’s infamous graffiti on an image of The Mona Lisa.
From the foreword by Francis Naumann:
“Censorship in the arts differs from culture to culture and, in most cases, only causes the audience these censors are attempting to protect to wonder exactly what is being kept from them and why, resulting in a thought process that can often be more stimulating than a view of the unaltered work. Pamela Joseph provides a biting and severely critical, while at the same time uniquely humorous commentary on the futility of censorship in the arts, no matter in what form it is practiced.＂