Suddenly Stripped

Nude Photo of Brooke Shielded

Some things do get in between Brooke Shields, her Calvins, and a new photography exhibition at the Tate Modern—obscenity laws. An image of a nude 10-year-old Shields has been withdrawn from the London museum’s Pop Life exhibition, which opened on October 1. The photo of the heavily made up actress, who notoriously starred (and undressed) in 1978’s Pretty Baby as a child prostitute, was shot by American photographer Richard Prince and entitled “Spiritual America.” Officers from the obscene publications unit of the Metropolitan police visited the Tate after police chiefs allegedly saw newspaper coverage of the exhibition and were concerned that the work break obscenity laws, despite the museum’s precautions in seeking legal advice and accompanying the image with a warning. Though the photo was previously part of a 2007 retrospective of Prince’s work at the Guggenheim and Tate members were already able to view the now controversial piece the day before the scheduled opening, the display was closed temporarily. Prince’s photograph is actually one of an original photograph—taken for the Playboy publication Sugar ‘n’ Spice in 1976. Though Shields’ mother authorized the picture for $450, the actress later (unsuccessfully) attempted to suppress it. Maybe the Metropolitan police will prove triumphant.