Gallery to display nude picture of 10-year-old girl

A provocative nude picture of a 10-year-old Brooke Shields will appear in a new exhibition at the Tate Modern gallery in London, it was revealed today.

Gallery chiefs said they sought legal advice before including the work, titled 'Spiritual America', in the 'Pop Life: Art In A Material World' show, which opens on Thursday.

The exhibition also features huge sexually explicit images of penetration and works made from the pages of pornographic magazines.

Richard Prince’s image of Shields shows her from the knees up, naked, oiled and wearing make-up, looking directly at the viewer.

It is hung in a special room at the south London gallery with a notice on the door warning visitors they may find the image “challenging”.

Prince himself described the 1983 work, which is in fact a photograph of a photograph taken by another artist, Gary Gross, as “an extremely complicated photo of a naked girl who looks like a boy made up to look like a woman”.

The picture was originally shown anonymously in a disused shop in a run-down area of New York, and the Tate show is believed to be the work’s first appearance in a UK gallery.

Jack Bankowsky, the exhibition’s co-curator, said he hoped the artistic interest in 'Spiritual America' would not be overshadowed by controversy over its content.

“I hope that people respond to what is provocative and understand what the artist was trying to achieve,” he said.

“If it turned into that kind of brouhaha it would overwhelm the work and become a monosyllabic conversation.”

Prince wanted the viewer to respond to the “eerieness” of Gross’ original image, Mr Bankowsky said.

A spokesman for the Tate said they had given careful consideration to the work and the reaction it could provoke before including it in the exhibition.

“As with any artwork that contains challenging imagery, Tate has sought legal advice and evaluated the situation,” the spokesman said.

“Tate has taken measures to inform visitors of the nature of the work, providing information outlining the intentions of the artist.

“This is an important work by Richard Prince which has been publicly exhibited on a number of occasions, most recently in Richard Prince’s major retrospective, Spiritual America, at the Guggenheim in New York.”

Elsewhere, the show has a room dedicated to US artist Jeff Koons’ 'Made In Heaven' work, which includes giant sexually explicit images of him with the Italian porn star La Cicciolina.

It is the most significant exhibition of the project since it made its debut in 1991.

Works by British artist Cosey Fanni Tutti, made from her appearances in the pages of pornographic magazines, also feature in the Tate show.

Tutti’s work caused huge controversy when it first appeared at the 'Prostitution' exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in 1976.

The Tate show takes Andy Warhol’s statement that “good business is the best art” as a starting point and considers the legacy of the Pop Art movement.

It features works by Damien Hirst, including 'False Idol', a calf preserved in formaldehyde, and 'Ingo, Torsten', his 1992 piece involving identical twins sitting in front of two of his “spot paintings”.

Some of Tracey Emin’s early works are also included, along with a selection of pieces from the later part of Warhol’s career.

'Pop Life: Art In A Material World' runs at the Tate Modern from October 1 until January 17.

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