A national art expert confesses she is a bit mystified by Brigham Young University’s decision not to display four of French sculptor Francois Auguste Rene Rodin’s 19th-century artworks, including the famously sensuous piece “The Kiss.”
“I wouldn’t have thought that it was still very controversial,” said Clare Vincent, associate curator for European sculpture for New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. “There are a great many things that are more shocking on television.”
Campbell Gray, director of BYU’s Museum of Art, acknowledged last weekend that the four sculptures will not be displayed with the exhibit, which is traveling across the United States and will be at BYU until January.
But he rebutted the notion that the museum is trying to censor the renowned artwork at the Mormon Church-owned school in Provo.
“Censorship connotes a sense of fear,” Gray said. “If we had a sense of fear, we wouldn’t do this because of the media attention we are drawing.”
Other banned pieces are a sculpture of a partly naked man, a nude sculpture of John the Baptist and another called “The Prodigal Son.”
Gray said BYU opted to keep those sculptures in their crates not because they are exceptionally obscene but because they could be a distraction from the other pieces on exhibit.
“We knew we were going to get attention for this, and on the surface, it seems like an unusual decision,” Gray said. “(But) it’s more a process of trying to ensure that the integrity of the exhibit is maintained.”