Shades of Schiele with a Henson Lens

I’d just finished reading The Pornographer of Vienna, Lewis Crofts’ excellent “bio novel” of Egon Schiele, when the Australian press ran reports that charges were being brought against Bill Henson for his photographs of adolescent girls. Every day brings a new comment with one of the latest pointing out the “small-minded subjectivity” of some of the beholders, including the Australian Prime Minister who pronounced the photographs “revolting”. Of course it’s much more than that – Emperor Franz Josef (according to Crofts) was revolted by Schiele’s work. Shades of Schiele! Not much seems to separate reactions in the Vienna of the early 1900’s to Egon Schiele’s work from reactions to Bill Henson’s in 2008 in Australia. Plus ça change …

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