Decent Exposure: Picasso’s “Nude Woman” Ad at Scottish Airport
Passengers departing from Scotland’s Edinburgh airport got a little more than they bargained for recently. They discovered a poster advertising an exhibition on Pablo Picasso at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. The image used in the poster was distasteful, they felt, so they complained to airport staff.
The painting in question was Picasso’s “Nude Woman in a Red Armchair,” which features, well, a nude woman in a red armchair. It’s a stylized depiction of Marie-Therese Walter, Picasso’s mistress and the mother to one of his daughters. And granted, taste is subjective, and “decency” will invariably differ from person to person, but the painting could hardly be considered pornographic.
Reacting quickly, the airport covered up the offending poster, but shortly thereafter, made the decision to continue to display the image. A spokesperson for the airport told the BBC: “We have now reviewed our original decision and reinstated the image. The initial decision was a reaction to passenger feedback, which we do always take seriously. However on reflection we are more than happy to display the image in the terminal and we’d like to apologize, particularly to the exhibition organizers, for the confusion.”
Director-general of the National Galleries of Scotland John Leighton commented to the BBC: “It is obviously bizarre that all kinds of images of women in various states of dress and undress can be used in contemporary advertising without comment, but somehow a painted nude by one of the world’s most famous artists is found to be disturbing and has to be removed.”
It’s nice to see customer feedback taken so seriously, even if the complaint seems a bit trivial. And it’s even nicer to see a company consider, and make a judgment call, like this.
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