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Home » Richard Prince work featuring a nude, 10-year-old Brooke Shields removed from Tate Modern exhibition by British Police

Richard Prince work featuring a nude, 10-year-old Brooke Shields removed from Tate Modern exhibition by British Police

October 1st, 2009

Detail from “Spiritual Americana” by Richard Prince via

On Tuesday the British Metropolitan Police visited the Tate Modern exhibition ‘Pop Life: Art in a Material World‘ to investigate the exhibition of ‘Spiritual America‘ by Richard Prince: an image depicting a 10-year-old, naked Brooke Shields. It was reported yesterday that officers were consulting with the Crown Prosecution service over whether the image breaches the Obscene Publications Act. A spokesman for Scotland Yard said, “The officers have specialist experience in this field and are keen to work with gallery management to ensure that they do not inadvertently break the law or cause any offense to their visitors,” according to the United Kingdom Press Association. The image has now been officially withdrawn from the show which opened on Monday.

Brooke Shields via

Related Links:
Tate Modern

Richard Prince Website

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It seems the Police were not alerted to the image’s potential obscenity due to public complaints but instead through coverage of the exhibition in the press. Children campaigners have now condemned Tate for its inclusion, describing the image as a “magnet for pedophiles”.

The image was originally placed by the curatorial staff in its own room behind a closed door bearing a warning that the work was “challenging.” This is the first time the image has been exhibited in Britain; in 2007 it was exhibited during the Richard Prince retrospective at the Guggenheim. It remained as part of the exhibition for the entire duration of the show without any controversy.

The image is a photograph of a photograph; the original was taken in 1975 by the American photographer Garry Gross. It was originally commissioned by Shield’s mother in an initiative to send her daughter to fame, quickly. In 1981 Shield’s made an unsuccessful attempt to buy the negatives back; the judge ruled she was simply a “hapless victim of a contract… to which grasping adults bound her.”

6 Responses to “Richard Prince work featuring a nude, 10-year-old Brooke Shields removed from Tate Modern exhibition by British Police”

  1. David B Says:

    Once again the NON ART of Richard Prince becomes news. I’m actually offended that the headline is ‘Richard Prince piece removed from the Tate.’ Well, you can debate all you want whether or not the photograph of a 10 year old Brooke Shields should be displayed in public, but please don’t attribute it to the rip-off artist (oh, excuse me, its “appropriation specialist”) Richard Prince. Though a few of his original pieces are not totally devoid of talent, the ones which have made him a household name in non-discerning houses (like, say, the Guggenheim) are pieces of magazine work which he has so cleverly photographed and copied in ways that add multiple layers of insight and intelligence. Insight, intelligence? Oh wait, that must be some OTHER artist. It’s disgusting that we are even acknowledging that Mr Rip Off Prince is being displayed at the Tate, a gallery which has occasionally displayed actual works of art by actual artists. Next time I’m at the Tate, I’ll take my Speed Graphic and appropriate a few images by whats-his-name.. Turner, or something like that. Kind of blurry looking water colory looking paintings, but I need new material for Soho Gallery show. I’m sure they won’t mind. I’m not ripping him off, I’m just appropriating.

  2. The Digest. 10.02.09. « Says:

    [...] Prince photo of a photo of nekkid Brooke Shields, age 10, is causing controversy across the pond. Art Observed has the full [...]

  3. ARTLURKER › Friday’s Hairy Eyeball: Richard Prince confiscated, Jeff Koons curates himself, Art Basel Miami Beach grows Says:

    [...] Richard Prince work featuring a nude 10 year old Brooke Shield is removed from Tate Modern by UK pol… [via ArtObserved] [...]

  4. Pretty Baby « Der Feuilletonist Says:

    [...] Yard hat ein Richard-Prince-Bild aus der großen Herbstausstallung Pop Life in der Tate Modern entfernen lassen. Verdacht auf Kinderpronografie, weil es sich um das Bild aus seiner Spiritual America-Serie [...]

  5. Romance Novels Says:

    Wow, this is what a ten year-old girl looks like nude?!?!

    It looks more like a bad Photoshop!! The face looks so much older…though I shouldn’t be surprised as a former model myself; we all seem to possess facial structures that seem more mature, even at a young age.

    I’m just raising a technical matter here, no opinion on whether this is art or pornography (yes, I know this was back in 2009)….

  6. Mother of Many Says:

    You should remove the image of her nude, your just as bad as the gallery for allowing it to be seen by strangers in the public. Remove it, or i’ll report this image of a 10 year old nude on your website. 24 hours notice. Its great that your against this image being used, but dont be a hypocrite and use it yourself. Remove it now. As a mother of a 8 year old girl, this is tasteless and unnecessary.

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