Thursday, December 7, 2023

Barcelona museum now haven for banned art works

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A drawing of a nude Donald Trump. A punching bag sculpture shaped like a woman’s torso. A display of women’s party shoes standing proudly on prayer rugs. All are pieces of contemporary art that have provoked debate and, sometimes, violent reactions.
These pieces and dozens more that were subjected to some sort of censorship have found a home in Spain at Barcelona’s Museum of Forbidden Art, or “Museu de l’Art Prohibit” in Catalan. The collection of over 200 works, including ones by well-known creators such as American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and Spain’s own Pablo Picasso, is intended to challenge visitors and question the limits imposed on artists in an increasingly polarised world.
Director Rosa Rodrigo said the museum is the only one in the world dedicated exclusively to art that faced petitions often successful ones for their removal from public view on moral, political, religious, sexual or commercial grounds.
“The museum gives an opportunity to works of art that, for whatever reason, at some point had been banned, attacked, censored, or cancelled, because there are so many,” Rodrigo told The Associated Press.
The museum is the creation of Catalan art collector Tatxo Benet, who owns all but one of the 42 works currently on display and the 200 more in storage. He was already collecting contemporary art when he began gathering “banned” works.
Five years later, Benet’s idea became the Museum of Forbidden Art, which opened its doors in October. Since then, over 13,000 people have visited its galleries.
As more works come under attack, people like art critic and curator Gabriel Luciani say the exhibit is essential. “I think it’s imperative to have a place like this in Europe and around the world. Especially in these moments of censorship that we’re seeing. Not only in the arts but also in other political contexts,” he said.
In March, a Hong Kong department store took down a digital artwork that contained hidden references to jailed dissidents.

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