Facebook bans Charles Blackman nude painting from Mossgreen auction post

Tuesday 28th February
Published by:
The Australian
Written by:
Michaela Boland

In the latest instance of social media prudishness, Facebook has forbidden a Melbourne auction house from advertising a 37-year-old Charles Blackman painting of a black cat and two nude women in repose.

The oil on paper, thought to feature the artist’s lover at the time, who later become his wife, Genevieve De Couvier, was published on the cover of Mossgreen’s catalogue for The Lowenstein Collection due to be auctioned next week.

The image depicts a naked bottom, breasts and vagina and was posted without complaint a week ago on Mossgreen’s Facebook page but when the company sought to boost the post Face-book refused.

Facebook explained: “This advert wasn’t boosted because it violates ad guidelines by advertising adult products or services including toys, videos or sexualising enhancement products … this decision is final.”

Facebook’s obscenity policy excludes medical images, art and in particular, breast feeding, after the social media giant was widely denounced for removing images of breastfeeding mothers.

It continues to prompt outrage in that community by occasionally removing breastfeeding pictures.

Facebook appears to have interpreted Blackman’s acclaimed picture as an adult product.

“Such ads lead to negative user sentiment and we have a zero tolerance towards such advertisements … this decision is final,” the company advised Mossgreen when it challenged the decision.

Mossgreen managing director Paul Sumner posted an angry message on his personal Facebook page decrying the response.

“Seriously? are we that prudish that the two girls naked on a bed sends us in to a tailspin?” he said.

Mossgreen plans to further challenge Facebook, confident the work falls into the category of nude art and as such should not be regulated.

Women Lovers is expected to sell for more than $45,000 when it is auctioned as one of 254 artworks collected by Melbourne art accountant Tom Lowenstein and his wife Sylvia in Sydney on March 7.

Charles Blackman (b.1928), Women Lovers, circa 1980, Estimate: $45,000-55,000