Saturday 03 December 2022

Unveiled: Purmerend town hall nudes must go


Purmerend council has banned works depicting naked women from the walls of its town hall for ‘making people feel uneasy’.

The series of nudes, modelled by locals, celebrates this year’s union of the Beemster polder with Purmerend and was to grace the town hall’s walls until the beginning of December.

Anneke Goede, who organised the exhibition and who is one of the women portrayed, said the council told her ‘a political decision’ had been made to remove some of the paintings.

‘Apparently there have been complaints from people who find the paintings offensive,’ she told the Telegraaf. Only the paintings that show bare breasts and buttocks have to go she said, the rest can stay.

A spokesman for the council said artist Jeroen Hermkens had ‘insisted’ all the works be exhibited. ‘We had a deal that if members of the public felt uneasy about them we could go back to showing a selection of the works,’ he told the paper in an email. Several complaints had come in, he said.

The artist said he doesn’t remember any deal with the council to remove paintings deemed offensive. ‘I wouldn’t know where to draw the line. The Netherlands is turning into a country of prudes. The discussion about art in public spaces has been going on for a while but the fact that everybody gets into a such a tizzy about is surprising. I have had exhibitions abroad and but have never encountered anything like this before.’

Hermkens and Goede said they refuse to compromise and will remove all the works on Friday. ‘There is nothing offensive about these works. It’s just naked women,’ Hermkens said.

The row comes just weeks after Leiden University workers removed a painting of ‘cigar smoking old men’ from the walls of a meeting room because of complaints. That painting has since been returned to its original location.

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