Classical Tradition Gone Wrong II: Bestial Leda?

This is turning into one of those mornings where all I do is shake my head; this time, though, the artist got it right … it’s the ‘authorities’ who need some educatin’ … from the Telegraph:

The Scream gallery in Mayfair had exhibited the artwork for a month with no complaints from the public. The work is intended as modern depiction of the Greek myth of Leda and the Swan.

But a Metropolitan police officer who saw the Derrick Santini image from a bus was alarmed.

He alerted his colleagues and two uniformed officers went to the gallery, which is owned by the Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood’s sons, Tyrone and Jamie.

Jag Mehta, the sales director at the gallery, said she spoke to the officers and asked what the problem was.

“They said the photograph suggested we condoned bestiality, which was an arrestable offence,” she said.

“It’s crazy. Perhaps the cultural references were lost on them.”

As the exhibition was already over, they took down the artwork, which shows the animal ravaging the naked woman.

“They stood there and didn’t leave until we took the piece down.”

Jamie Wood said the work, entitled A Fool for Love, was not meant deliberately to shock or offend. It was due to be taken down anyway to be replaced by another installation.

He added: “We would of course have fought to keep the piece up otherwise. If anyone wants to view it, we still have it at the gallery.

“The purpose of art is to provoke debate and Derrick’s piece has certainly done that.”

According to Greek mythology, the god Zeus took the form of a swan to seduce or rape Leda. She was later said to bear his children, Polydeuces and Helen of Troy.

Some versions of the story suggest they were formed in eggs.

Miss Mehta said the myth of Leda’s rape by Zeus was an acceptable form of erotica in Victorian times. However, this argument failed to impress the police.

“They said they didn’t know anything about the myth,” she said. “They asked if we had had any complaints and we said quite the contrary. Lots of people were intrigued by it.”

The photographer grew up in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, and is well known for his work with musicians and fashion models. His art has been displayed in London, Istanbul and New York.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said the incident had not been recorded as a crime.

Interestingly, the Telegraph piece doesn’t include a photo of the picture in question, but prefers to include this oft-seen sixteenth century piece:

The Scream gallery’s page for the exhibition includes a photo of Santini’s work which is presumably the one which offended the cops so much:

… wow. I’d link to other, rather more racy versions, but they seem to be blocked from my school … Better keep the Metropolitan types away from the Classics section of the bookstore. Don’t anyone say ‘Ovid’ to them … (WTF redux)

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