Museums draw fire – Explicit art sparks criticism

Museum directors — accustomed to conservative efforts to censor provocative art — are disturbed by a growing trend of censorship efforts by liberal organizations, The New York Times reports.

Efforts to suppress art now come from feminists, civil rights advocates and gay activists, as well as from the far right, Joan Bertin, executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship, told the Times.

While the right usually objects to anti-patriotic, sexually explicit or sacriligious art, she said, feminists recently have bjected to nudes, while blacks have protested black depictions in museum exhibits.

“When people who say they believe in free thinking draw lines and say ‘Not here’, it’s more troubling,” Bertin told the Times.

Curators who concede that some artists make provocative works for media attention also maintain that their core responsibility is to show the art of the day.

Museums are having difficulty finding non-controversial contemporary art, which has focused on social and political issues since the 1960’s.

Museum officials who fear self-censorship more than protests are choosing to take risks with provocative art exhibits, the Times reports.

In response to recent challenges, museums have begun posting notices at their entrances when shows contain confrontational work.

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