The image forms part of a new exhibition called Pop Life: Art in a Material World which was due to open today [Thursday] and which aims to explore the relationship between commercial and artistic images.
The Tate consulted lawyers before hanging the picture which has not been seen in Britain although it has been shown in New York where it attracted little attention. There it formed part of a retrospective of Prince’s work at the Guggenheim Museum.
The Tate confirmed it has temporarily withdrawn the picture. Like the Henson case which was sparked by media complaints about the show, it is understood that London police visited the gallery after reading media coverage and previews of the upcoming exhibition in London’s newspapers.
When this started yesterday I knew that the comparisons would be drawn, that aspersions would be cast. I believe that the Tate has done everything correctly in this matter, with the initial legal consultation and the full police cooperation. I don’t know if withdrawing it was the right thing to do necessarily, however I do believe that the context in which it was presented was one that would necessarily cast the work in an even more contentious light. The concept of the exhibition is interesting, but the prevalence of explicit imagery and this piece presented in it’s own private room was, perhaps, inviting trouble.
However I know that many will be asking me here and asking the organizers over there – How does this case differ from the Henson case?
I was going to wait on this post until tomorrow but it appears now is the time- stay tuned.