Today I read an article that I would like to discuss with you. It concerns art censorship in a museum in Manchester. You can find the original article I read here.
According to the article, the Manchester Art Gallery has taken down a well-known painting by John William Waterhouse, from 1896. The painting in questions is “Hylas and the Nymphs”, depicting the myth of Hylas, a lover of Herakles, who is lured to his death by the nymph Nomia and her fellow nymphs. The reason for taking the painting down is to spark a debate about the depiction and presentation of female nudity in art, in the context of the #MeToo movement. Many people have not taken kindly to the removal, however, viewing it as censoring art. Which it is, in my opinion.
The removal also seems to kind of indicate that the staff at the museum don’t fully understand the painting and what it depicts. The nymphs are divine beings and thus are of greater power and status than the mortal man Hylas. And they are the ones luring him to his death. This is not a depiction of women as femme fatale of using women’s bodies as passive decoration. The nymphs are the active party in this painting. This is not in some way a depiction of the exploitation of women. Rather, this is a depiction of the power of the feminine and the subjugation of man to nature, as a friend on Facebook pointed out. And as she also pointed out, if you lose sight of the forest through the trees, or boobies and buttocks, in this case, you’re bound to share Hylas fate and be drawn to your doom into swampy, murky depths.
Hopefully, I have given you some food for thought.