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Tate Gallery pulls images from website after artist convicted of pedophilia

By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, April 4, 2013 14:46 EDT
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Photo taken on April 6, 2000, of the Tate Modern Gallery. (AFP)
 
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Britain’s prestigious Tate Gallery on Thursday removed dozens of images from its website, some showing naked young girls, after their creator, renowned artist Graham Ovenden, was convicted of child sexual offences.

Ovenden, 70, was convicted on Tuesday of six charges of indecency with a child and one count of indecent assault.

Paintings and photographs by the artist, often depicting nude girls, have been displayed in galleries all over the world.

A Tate spokeswoman said the gallery was reviewing its policy on the display of 34 prints by Ovenden that were donated to its collection in 1975.

“Until this review is complete, the images will not be available online and the works will not be available to view by appointment,” she said.

The spokeswoman added: “Graham Ovenden is an artist of note, whose work has been widely shown over more than 40 years.”

Ovenden’s trial at Truro Crown Court in Cornwall, southwest England, heard that his portraiture had formed part of a ruse for abusing girls, who he dressed in 19th century clothing before removing it and committing indecent acts.

The incidents happened 40 years ago at his former home in London and his current residence in Cornwall.

Ovenden denied the charges and told the trial that the depiction of naked children in his work had been an exploration of the “state of grace”.

“I have to say the absolute witch-hunt which is going on at the moment — and the idea that a child naked is something to be frowned upon — is absolutely abhorrent,” he told the court.

Many of his portraits were inspired by Victor Nabokov’s famous novel “Lolita”, about a love affair between a middle-aged man and his 12-year-old step-daughter, as well as “Alice in Wonderland”.

Ovenden has yet to be sentenced and was released on bail following his conviction on Tuesday.

In 2009 the Tate, which has four galleries in Britain, removed a controversial nude photograph of the US actress Brooke Shields as a 10-year-old from a major exhibition, following a police pornography probe.

The image by Richard Prince showed the young Shields standing naked in a bathtub, wearing heavy make-up and covered in oil.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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