Gina Mei
May 18, 2015 6:23 am

Last week, a local Fox news channel came under fire for blurring out the breasts of Picasso’s Women of Algiers (Version O) while reporting on the painting’s record-breaking sale of $179.4 million at a Christie’s auction. Many were outraged by the censorship, and after Fox5NY ran the story last Wednesday, people took to Twitter to voice their concerns and disgust. Some rather reputable art critics also added their voices to the mix.

Women of Algiers (Version O) is a well-recognized abstract masterpiece, and a part of Picasso’s 1955 series of 15 paintings and multiple drawings inspired by Eugène Delacroix’s Women of Algiers in their Apartment, from 1834. The piece is arguably one of Picasso’s most famous works (not to mention it crushed the previous record of $142.4 million for a Francis Bacon triptych in 2013), and we’re a bit confused as to why Fox5NY felt they had to censor it. The painting is not meant to be realistic, and it’s hard to believe that anyone could interpret it as such. (As Kristen Schaal joked on an episode of The Tonight Show a couple of days ago, “Talk about unrealistic body standards!”)

To prove just how questionable the censorship was, it should be noted that Fox5NY failed to blur out multiple butts and a woman with her legs spread open in the painting; which further suggests how difficult it is to find “offense” in such an abstract piece of art. That the breasts would be blurred out by default just goes to show how contentious and over-sexualized the female body has become — and that’s why Fox5NY’s censorship feels so ridiculous.

“Not only did the censorship reveal a perversion in how Fox views the human body, but blurring out the nipples inherently sexualizes and objectifies the female form, even in an abstract piece of art like this,” Natasha Noman wrote in a piece on Mic.

In response, many have referenced the #FreeTheNipple campaign that continues to make waves across the Internet and beyond. Inspired by a documentary of the same name released earlier this year (which sought to explore why men can legally expose their nipples in public in New York, but women can’t), the hashtag has quickly become an international campaign for equality between men’s and women’s bodies. Given that this record-breaking masterpiece fell victim to the same censorship as real women in the real world, it’s obvious that the hashtag’s message remains as important as ever.

(Image via Associated Press.)

Advertisement