The Metropolitan Police says it would investigate any complaint made about the nude picture of a ten-year-old Brooke Shields, set to go on show to the public, to establish whether an offence has occurred.
NEWS UPDATE 8PM: PICTURE REMOVED, PRESS REPORTS SAY TONIGHT. MORE DETAILS TOMORROW
Asked how it would treat any complaint a Met spokesman said this morning: ‘It would be looked at to see if an offence has occurred. If it has occurred then we will investigate.’
At the time of writing, no complaint had been made to the Met about the contentious image which shows Brooke Shields as a child actress.
It is due to go on show as part of an exhibition at Tate Modern in London from tomorrow. Most recently it was shown at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
The work, called Spiritual America – by artist Richard Prince – shows Brooke Shields standing naked in a bath in 1975.
Prince did not take the original portrait says Tate Modern which adds, it is a ‘photograph of a photograph’.
Children’s campaigners are up in arms. Michele Elliott of Kidscape said: ‘Brooke Shields was 10 years old when this picture was taken. She could not have given informed consent to it being used. It must be bordering on child pornography. It is certainly not art.’
Elliott added: ‘If you are using a naked child to bring people to your exhibition, then you are exploiting that child. It?s as if they are using a 10-year-old for bait. I find it disturbing and they should be ashamed of themselves. And putting the picture in a room with a warning outside really is a magnet for paedophiles.’
Despite the controversy – which sparked a heated debate on LBC Radio this morning – there is no sign of the image being withdrawn from the exhibition, according to a Tate Modern spokeswoman this morning.
Tate Modern told Amateur Photographer: ‘Richard Prince is an important American artist who critically investigates the power of the photographic image in our society, especially the representation of gender in mass media.’
In a statement, Tate Modern added: ‘Spiritual America 1983 is a seminal work in which the artist re-photographed an existing image of actor Brooke Shields originally shot by a commercial photographer. Prince then presented the image anonymously in a disused shopfront in 1983.
‘As with any artwork that contains challenging imagery, Tate has sought legal advice and evaluated the situation. Tate has taken measures to inform visitors of the nature of the work, providing information outlining the intentions of the artist.’
The photo appears in Pop Life: Art in a Material World, at Tate Modern from 1 October-17 January 2010.
Two years ago Elton John closed an exhibition of images that he owned amid controversy over a picture depicting two naked girls.
The controversial image had been due to be displayed as part of an exhibition of photographs by renowned photographer Nan Goldin at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, Tyne & Wear.