Facebook censors Picasso exhibit; Montreal museum fights back
Published Friday, August 3, 2018 9:19AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, August 3, 2018 10:04PM EDT
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has resolved a problem with Facebook after posting some of Picasso's artwork that contains nudity.
In May, the museum created an ad for its current Pablo Picasso exhibit featuring the renowned artist;s 1956 work Femmes à la Toilette, but the ad was rejected due to Facebook’s strict policy against nudity.
The museum then submitted a second ad for approval featuring a more abstract painting titled Large still life with pedestal -- an abstract image which, if you looks very carefully, contains a few body parts.
This too was rejected.
Large still life with pedestal, by Pablo Picasso
The MMFA made one last attempt with 'Woman in Armchair' and the social media company's algorithm rejected that too.
It was only this week that the museum was able to talk to someone at the multinational company about the problems -- and finally have the original ad approved.
"It's impossible to see something wrong with that painting," said Pascale Chasse of the MMFA.
"This is fine art and they look at is if it was a bad ad about sexuality or nudity or something with bad taste. They don't [understand] the difference between that and an art of work," said Chasse. "It's ridiculous at some point. This is the same visual that we use everywhere: on TV, on web."
A few years ago, Facebook removed the MMFA's ad for its Pompeii exhibit for similar reasons.
Other museums including the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Rubens House, a museum in Belgium, have also run afoul.
Fed up, the MMFA decided to make its case.
"On wednesday we had a conference call with people from Facebook and we had that discussion and it went pretty well. They were open," said Chasse.
According to the museum, representatives from Facebook admitted their automatic system has a problem and so will review their system.
"They are telling us that they will have a specific regulation for fine art because probably now they realize they can't look at fine art like the same way that they look at the regular ads," said Chasse.
Facebook later issued a statement: "We want to make sure that museums and other institutions are able to share some of their most iconic paintings and are currently reviewing our approach to nudity in paintings in ads on Facebook."
The museum said it hopes in the future a human being will review the ads before they're pulled.
“There's a difference between a painting like this and the an ad about pornography or sexuality,” said Chasse.
The exhibit at the MMFA, Picasso - From Africa to the Americas, continues through Sept. 16.