More On the Censorship of Art

Χαίρετε ἀναγνώστες!

Some more news on that painting of Hylas and the Nymphs that was taken from its place by the Manchester Art Gallery.

It seems the Manchester Art Gallery and the Manchester city council, which owns the gallery, have had enough backlash and reaction that they have decided to put the painting back up. In this article by the BBC, you can read some of the reactions they have had from not just locals but from all over the world. The general gist seems to be that this was a bad way to get attention to these issues — which were acknowledged as important to discuss, but that the method of sparking debate came down to censorship. While the gallery denied censorship, others pointed out that removing a piece of art for political concerns, as is the case here, is exactly censorship.



Hylas and the Nymphs. John William Waterhouse, 1896 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Manchester Art Gallery.

I linked to an article by BBC above and would like to say something more about the article. It opens with the phrase:

A gallery is to put a Victorian painting of naked adolescent girls back on display after a row over censorship.

Emphasis is my own. The article describes the Nymphs in this painting as “naked adolescent girls”. This is a severe mistake. As I said in my previous blog post on this matter, the Nymphs are divinities, literally of greater power and higher status than Hylas, a mere mortal. The Nymphs are the ones in power in that myth and in the painting. And as divinities who are generally regarded as not exactly immortal but extremely long-lived, mortal ages don’t apply to Nymphs. Those nymphs could easily be centuries or millennia old. Also, the way they choose to present themselves to mortals is their own choice. In this instance, they seek to lure Hylas to his death, so they take on beautiful, alluring guises.

Now, the issue of continued gender equality, of harassment of women, abuse of women, and all the issues laid bare by the #MeToo movement are very important things for society to finally confront and deal with adequately. I am not denying that. But the method used by the Manchester Art Gallery leaves a lot to be desired and transposes modern issues to times that are gone and were very different from our own. You can not look at the past with a moralising gaze because that only serves to make your own age seem more evolved and better when it will have its own share of major issues and problems. Moralising history is bad history.

Hopefully, I have given you some more food for thought on this matter.



2 comments on “More On the Censorship of Art

  1. K says:

    It is kind of funny how the rampant decadence and sexual license that has been promoted for decades has led to a strange sort of puritanical moralism. They have no problem putting up tasteless and offensive modern art all over the place.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mvineetmenon says:


    PC culture has indeed spread the world, more so in the West like a malicious virus. Funnily enough, it’s okay to [show the world your vagina]( under the garb of feminism, but a classical painting sans the Victorian morals is reprehensible!


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