The Art World’s Multimillion Dollar Sale Is the Latest Victim of Nipple Censorship

#FreetheNipple on Modigliani’s ‘Nu Couché.’
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#FreetheNipple on Modigliani’s ‘Nu Couché.’
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On Monday night, painter Amedeo Modigliani’s 1917-18 canvas titled “Nu Couché” sold for $170.4 million to Liu Yiqian, a billionaire art collector in China. The Christie’s bidding race was tight, it broke a record, and, well, that’s a fuckton of money to drop on anything, so it made news worldwide.

But as television and print outlets began to report the story, one curious trend became evident: The reclining nude in the painting had her nipples and genital area censored.

When I first became aware of the breast-blurring, my initial instinct was to let out a low bellow, like a wounded and hungry animal, then go all She-Hulk and destroy my computer. (But I didn’t, because I have that reaction to most things I see on the internet and I definitely can’t afford a new computer.)

It’s frustrating enough that the nipple is sexualized so frequently on a day-to-day basis, what with social media networks like Instagram forcing women to pull down topless shots. But censoring a work of art simply looks silly and prudish — IT'S A GODDAMN PAINTING. Not only that, but a painting with cultural and historical significance that depicts the most natural thing of all: the human body. Certainly these news outlets have guidelines to adhere to — but it’s time to reconsider them.



Update (11/16): A spokesperson from the Financial Times contacted us to let us know that " International publishers are banned from printing and distributing nude images in some countries according to local governing laws. 'Nu Couché', the nude painting by Amedeo Modigliani, ran uncensored in most FT editions. "