The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s International Pop exhibition starts on February 24th. To promote it, an Art Museum staffer posted the image above — Belgian artist Evelyne Axell’s 1964 painting “Ice Cream” — on Facebook. It’s on loan to the PMA from the Collection of Serge Goisse.
Per the Art Museum, it was removed from the site for “containing excessive amounts of skin or suggestive content.” The Art Museum has since reposted the painting with a note.
“Her work can be understood as a critique of mainstream Pop Art, in which women were often depicted as passive, decorative objects,” the post reads. “In contrast, Axell sought to depict active, confident women who pursue satisfaction on their own terms — such as the protagonist of ‘Ice Cream,’ who unabashedly enjoys her dessert. Axell’s provocative paintings challenge artistic conventions while also exhibiting a liberated, playful spirit characteristic of the sexual revolution of the 1960s.”
If you haven’t figured it out yet, in addition to an ice cream cone, the woman in “Ice Cream” can also look like she’s licking a penis.
“We chose this work by Evelyne Axell as one of our keystone marketing images because it speaks to so many themes found throughout Pop: consumption, pleasure, and seduction,” associate curator Erica Battle wrote to Philadelphia magazine in an email. “Axell herself was aware of the ways in which our perception is shaped by authority and authorship, which is why she first exhibited her work using only her last name. The response to her work on Facebook reflects how these themes interweave to form a complex, probing investigation into social politics that is incredibly relevant to today’s digital world in which we are all compelled to share and comment on images of all kinds.”
The International Pop exhibit explores pop art’s emergence internationally from 1956 to 1972, with paintings from artists in the U.S., U.K., western and eastern Europe, Latin America, Japan and elsewhere — 20 different countries in all. Although Facebook found the painting “suggestive content,” there’s also a billboard of the painting advertising the exhibit on the Schuylkill Expressway near the Spring Garden exit.
In addition to Axell, it features works from Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Tom Wesselmann, and Ed Ruscha (US); Richard Hamilton, Pauline Boty, Peter Blake, and Clive Barker (UK); Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, and Konrad Lueg (Germany); Ushio Shinohara, Keiichi Tanaami, and Osamu Tezuka (Japan); Hélio Oiticica, Wanda Pimentel, and Antonio Dias (Brazil); and Marta Minujín, Dalila Puzzovio, and Edgardo Giménez (Argentina). It runs until May 15th.
Facebook did not immediately return a request for comment.
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