Censorship is the process of not allowing anything too offensive, obscene, or perverted to be viewed, heard, or read by the general public. It usually comes about when a book, painting, song, or even name becomes highly offensive or morally corrupt. Art Censorship has been around since the beginning of the arts, whether it be old Roman Empire Statues to Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment masterpiece. Censorship can be either good or bad. As an artist, my opinion is that censorship is basically either a way to make something better for a broader audience or limit it to the extent of extinction.
Art censorship dates back to the Ancient Athens, the Roman Empire, and the Medieval Catholic Church. Together they financed many artists, but also suppressed many as well. The United States government did not approve national art until the 1960’s. The National Foundation of the Arts and Humanities was created in 1965. The purpose of this organization was to encourage excellence in art. There are two divisions of this organization. One is the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and the other is the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The main reasons for censoring the arts were the obscenity it promoted and religious beliefs of some groups. The view of some religious groups was that through certain forms of art Satan was allowed to flow freely. Artwork that was considered obscene or indecent was thought to promote immorality.
Some of the world’s greatest works of art have been censored through the years. In the early Roman Empire male nudity was common until the Roman Empire converted to Christianity. Works such as Michelangelo’s Statue of David were censored with leaves to cover the genital areas. However, this was not the first work by Michelangelo to be censored. The Last Judgment was one of Michelangelo’s finest works. This massive work of art spans the entire altar of the Sistine Chapel. It took from 1573 to 1541 to complete. It depicted Christ and the apocalypse, it also featured nude figures of men and women ascending to the heavens. This caused an absolute outrage between Michelangelo and the chapel. The chapel believed it was a huge disgrace to what they proclaimed the most important church of Christianity. Later on the Pope had artist Daniele de Volterra cover the exposed genitalia with items such as cloths or coiled snakes. Then the Pope proclaimed it was not an extension to hell, so the portrait would have to remain. Though Michelangelo was probably the most well known artist to be censored he was not alone. The NEA also funded photographer Andres Serrano in 1988. His photograph titled Piss Christ, which depicted a crucifix floating in a jar of Serrano’s own urine. Governors from throughout the nation sent angry letters demanding that Serrano’s photograph never be shown to the public. It was never seen again after 1988.
In 1933, Diego Rivera, a famous artist from Mexico, was commissioned by the...