As Te Papa prepares its own Andy Warhol exhibition it will be aware of the controversy over the censoring of Warhol’s work in Asia. The latest bout started when his portraits of Mao Tse Tung were excluded from the exhibition Andy Warhol: 15 minutes eternal shows in Beijing by the Chinese Ministry of Culture. More weirdly the Singapore Government also put the skids under the Mao pics in the same exhibition for a very specific reason. It does not allow political leaders to be represented in works of art. At all. While not a great moment for audiences or curatorial independence, before we get too carried away let's acknowledge our own well developed mode of censorship - self-censorship.
The self-censorship by curators and museums has ensured that virtually nothing has been seen of Warhol’s homoerotic work of the seventies: not his best work, doesn’t fit the curatorial theme, wrong dates etc. etc. The definitive MoMA retrospective had only three mild examples as opposed to 10 images of Mick Jagger. Needless to say examples of this work won't be seen touring Asia any time soon. The pages illustrating this post show the absurdity of where this can all lead. Here's what Frankfurt’s very reputable Kunsthalle did to Jeff Koons’s Made in heaven series in their catalogue for a recent Koons painting show and made itself look ridiculous in the process. Which of course is what censorship is good at.
Image: The Kunsthalle Frankfurt catalogue featuring a carefully trimmed ‘detail’ of Glass dildo by Jeff Koons. Yes, that it is Cicciolina's high-heeled foot you can see.