Art sometimes provokes controversy. Part of the purpose of art is to present controversial, debatable subjects. On occasion, artists treat subject matter in ways that spark public outcry. Censorship of art occurs when exhibitions are closed because of controversial content. A censorship controversy was initiated in the U.S. in 1999 when Mayor Rudy Giuliani attempted to close the “Sensations” exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum of Art for offensive content.
Giuliani objected to several works in the exhibit, including Chris Ofili’s mixed media work The Holy Virgin Mary in which elephant dung was used as a material. Ofili also surrounded the picture of Mary with pornographic images. You can answer the following question with or without doing further research about the “Sensations” exhibit. If standards were to be applied to subject matter for art viewed in public spaces funded by taxpayers, what would they be? If standards are not required, why not?
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