facebook on trial after censoring courbet's 'origin of the world' painting

facebook on trial after censoring courbet's 'origin of the world' painting

first image by john beckley


in 1866 gustave courbet—a french painter who led the realism movement in the 19th-century—realized ‘l’origine du monde’, a famous painting also known as ‘the origin of the world.’ quite controversial for its time, the picture depicts a naked woman lying on the bed with her legs spread. little would we know that more than 150 years later this work of art is still being confused for porn, and in particular by giant social media platform facebook.

facebook on trial after censoring courbet's 'origin of the world' painting designboom
the origin of the world by gustave courbet is currently in paris’ musée d’orsay



in 2011, frédéric durand—a french teacher—posted on his personal facebook account a picture of ‘the origin of the world’ with a link to an article about it. because of this sharing action, his account was deactivated without warning or justification. after seven years, the fight is finally getting a day in court, where freedom of speech and the distinction between art and pornographic imagery will be ruled. and although ‘facebook’s terms and conditions prohibit nude images, the rules were amended in 2015 to allow for nudity in works of art,’ says artnet.


the trial, which alleges censorship, will take place in france where the law guarantees every french citizen the right to speak, write and print freely.

facebook on trial after censoring courbet's 'origin of the world' painting designboom
‘I created my own updated version of the work with a touch of humor to pass the facebook censorship policy.’ 
image by john beckley

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