Airport Patrons Can’t Stand When Picasso Bares It All

by Hrag Vartanian on August 9, 2012

Pablo Picasso, “Nude Woman In a Red Armchair” (1932) (via

A Scottish airport has backtracked on its decision to cover up a poster promoting an exhibition at the Scottish Museum of Modern Art that featured Picasso’s “Nude Woman In a Red Armchair” (1932).

Apparently, the abstracted nude’s bare breasts and vagina were too much for some passengers and the airport made the temporary decision to place a white vinyl cover over the offending parts before it permanently removed the advertisement.

In an interview with AFP, director-general of the National Galleries of Scotland, John Leighton, highlighted the lunacy of contemporary decency standards:

“All kinds of images of women in various states of dress and undress can be used in contemporary advertising without comment … But somehow a painted nude by one of the world’s most famous artists is found to be disturbing and has to be removed.”

The painting, created by the greatest modern artist at Château de Boisgeloup, depicts his lover Marie-Thérèse Walter.

The airport reversed its decision yesterday and released the following statement, which was published in The Guardian:

We have now reviewed our original decision and reinstated the image. The initial decision was a reaction to passenger feedback, which we do always take seriously. However on reflection we are more than happy to display the image in the terminal and we’d like to apologise — particularly to the exhibition organisers — for the confusion.

As well as returning the image to its original display we also hope that the interest assists in further promoting the Picasso and Modern British Art exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art to the many visitors in Edinburgh at the moment.

No word yet on how the controversy has impacted attendance numbers at the museum, which has no doubted benefited from the global publicity of the incident.

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  • Whatever issues of exposure this painting painting contains, the vagina is not one of them.

    • Well, it is an abstraction so I’m not quite sure what it is. Should I guess labia? Suggestions are welcome!

      • Daniel Larkin

        sorry hrag… I don’t have any suggestions to contribute on this one…. :-)

  • Jillian Steinhauer

    People at the airport and Facebook should get together and talk about their inability to tell paintings from porn.

    • Daniel Larkin

      perhaps a meet up group could be arranged for these conversations? I’d like to be a fly on the wall for those talks Jillian

  • Daniel Larkin

    the statement is a nice save for what sounds like a rushed decision – and the blunder will draw more attention to the show – and it gets more people talking about Picasso – this story was the comic relief I needed after a long day at work

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