Artist: Robert Mapplethorpe, Contemporary Arts Center|
Confronting Bodies: Cincinnati City officials
Date of Action: 1990
Description of Artwork: A retrospective show for the late Robert Mapplethorpe including many nudes, some of children, flowers, and sadomasochistic activities.
Description of Incident: Officials of the Contemporary Arts Center of Cincinnati tried to be prudent: they restricted access to the museum to those over 18 and relegated the most disturbing and explicit of the 175 photographs to a separate, further isolated room. This was not enough, however, to keep a local sheriff from staging a raid on the exhibit and seeking indictments against museum director Dennis Barrie on obscenity charges; nor was it enough to keep the grand jury from handing up an indictment. Judge David J. Albanese of the Hamilton County court ruled earlier this month that the charges had to go to trial and that the five designated "obscene" photographs cannot even be considered in the context of the entire Mapplethorpe show.
Results of Incident: Dennis Barrie was acquitted but has since left the CAC. The exhibition is still used as fodder in the battle for NEA reauthorization and funding.
Source: Committee For Artists' Rights Archive