The Tate has removed from public view works by artist Graham Ovenden, including a screenprint that features an image of a young naked child, saying that his conviction on six charges of indecency with a child and one of indecent assault "shone a new light" on his work.
The 34 prints the national gallery owns were removed from its website and will no longer be available to view by appointment in Tate Britain's prints and drawings department while the museum awaits "further information".
The Tate said it was "reviewing the online presentation of these editioned prints by him that are held in the national collection. Until this review is complete, the images will not be available online or the works to view by appointment".
All the works were acquired in 1975, many from Mayfair art dealer the Waddington Galleries, which exhibited Ovenden's work in the early 1970s.
The Tate said they were "part of a large gift of almost 3,000 works … at a point when Tate was proactively building its modern print collection".
At the time, Ovenden, a friend of luminaries such as Sir Peter Blake and Sir David Bailey, had a strong artistic reputation and was yet to be affected by controversies over his depictions of young nude girls.
The 34 works, dating from 1970-1975, depict children. One series of screenprints, titled Five Girls, includes a full-length image of a nude child that would be bound to raise concerns and comment if exhibited today.
Other works are drawn from a series based on Lewis Carroll's Alice books; others still take a Nabokovian theme, with titles such as Lolita Recumbent and Lolita Seductive. The Alice in Wonderland exhibition at Tate Liverpool in 2011 included a set of eight of Ovenden's Alice prints.
Ovenden was found guilty of six charges of indecency with a child and one allegation of indecent assault by a jury at Truro crown court on Tuesday. He was acquitted of two indecent assaults and the jury earlier found Ovenden not guilty of three charges of indecent assault on the direction of the judge, Graham Cottle.
Ovenden had denied all the charges relating to four children between 1972 and 1985.
Sentencing was adjourned until a later date by the judge and Ovenden was released on bail.
The Tate said Ovenden's work had been "widely shown over more than 40 years" and that they were only one of several public institutions to own examples of his work.
In an interview recorded in 2000 by the British Library, Ovenden said: "I'm aware of the sensuality of these young girls; I'm moved by their angelic side as well as their demon side; they have a total wonder in them. As an artist, I wish to explore that. Children are beautiful but I don't flatter them; I draw them with an edge."
The Tate has no plans to remove the works entirely from the collection. It is bound by act of parliament not to deaccession – remove – works from its collection unless in specific circumstances, for example where the gallery holds a duplication.
It is not the first time that the Tate has faced a controversy relating to images of nude children. In 2009, Richard Prince's work Spiritual America, an appropriation of a nude photograph of a prepubescent Brooke Shields, was removed from view at Tate Modern after a warning from the Metropolitan police that the image could break obscenity laws.
I AM ALSO REPUBLISHING THIS COMMENT FROM JOHN WARDS BLOG, LIKE SMEGSTER I AM GOBSMACKED READING THIS:
April 3, 2013 at 12:17 pm
I’d like to bring your attention to the Ovenden story as reported by the Sky News app. Reading it left me gobsmacked and I wanted to hear your view on my take of it.
Once you get past the headline it reads something like a cross between him having won an award and being the victim of a wrongful convition. It’s almost apologetic.
Below I will copy what the article says, with my emphasis.
Graham Ovenden: Artist Guilty of Sex Offences.
An internationally-famous artist has been convicted of sex offences against young children who modelled for him in the 1970′s and 1980′s.
Graham Ovenden, 70, was found guilty of six charges of indecency with a child and one of indecent assault by a jury at Truro Crown Court in Cornwall.
(So far so good right??)
He was aquitted of five other charges of indecent assault.
(Heres where it start to smell a bit off)
Ovenden, who was not in court due to ilness, denied all the charges relating to four children between 1972 and 1985.
Christopher Quinlan QC, defending, told Judge Graham Cottle that Ovenden was resting at HOME, having received treatment at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth.
The incidents are said to have taken place at Ovenden’s former and CURRENT addresses in London and Cornwall respectively.
(So he’s tucked up in bed in the same house he committed these crimes? Very cosy huh)
Ovenden had been described in court by prosecutor Ramsay Quaife as ‘a paedophile’, who abused children while they modelled for him.
(at least that bit is accurate)
(Now we get into the meat and veg of what I’m referring to. Bearing in mind this article is reporting on the fact that this Paedophile has been found GUILTY of abusing children)
The four victims contacted the police LONG after the abuse is ALLEGED to have taken place, (is it still alleged after being found guilty?), and only when they realised exactly what had happened to them as girls, the court heard. (surely this is implying that at the time they were children, it was a consensual bit of fun whilst modelling? I think it also implies that as he’s a renowned artist the pictures of young naked children have been wrongly labelled)
But Ovenden denied the abuse ever happened. (depiste the fact that a jury found him guilty) He told the court he had taken pictures of children – including those in various states of undress – but said they were not indecent. (even if this were true it doesn’t change the fact that he has been found guilty of indecent assulat against a child).
He described himself in court as a modest man, but told police he had a ‘major reputation’ for creating ‘some of the best portraits of children in the last 200 years’ (I’ll bet he did).
He also described the ‘witch-hunt’ against those who produce work involving naked children, accusing police of ‘falsifying’ images recovered from his home computer. (after all he is an ‘artist’)
Ovenden, of Barley Splatt, near Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, denied having a sexual interest in children. (OK then)
The judge adjourned sentence to a date to be fixed but told counsel the hearing would take place at Plymouth Crown Court (you have already alluded to the significance of that decision).
Ovenden was released on bail (although he never actualy left the house where some of the offences took place, incredible)
( The article closes with a roll of honour for this great artist)
A former pupil of pop artist Sir Peter Blake, Ovenden graduated from the Royal College of art in 1968.
He had exhibitions at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. the Tate and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
(After seeing this late last night the story is no longer on the Sky News app. I’m sure it will be on the website, however I took screen shots of the article if needed. Maybe i’m reading too much into his but I honestly felt as though this was written by the Minisrty of Truth)