A consortium of museums in Vienna have created an OnlyFans account to post nude artworks as part of a “new wave of prudishness” on social media platforms.
The so-called “Vienna Laid Bare” initiative was launched by Vienna’s tourism board late last week along with its OnlyFans account. As of writing subscribers can receive a complimentary Vienna City Card, or a ticket for one of the museums featured on the account.
Helena Hartlauer, a spokesperson for the Vienna Tourism Board, told Motherboard that the museums launched the initiative after the city’s museums had their social media accounts suspended for uploading nude artworks. In July, the TikTok account of the city’s Albertina Museum was banned for posting photographs from Japanese artist Nobuyoshi Araki depicting obscured breasts. TikTok did not immediately reply to an email from Motherboard regarding the ban.
“Vienna and its art institutions are among the casualties of this new wave of prudishness – with nude statues and famous artworks blacklisted under social media guidelines, and repeat offenders even finding their accounts temporarily suspended,” the Vienna Tourism Board wrote in a press release. “That’s why we decided to put the capital’s world-famous ‘explicit’ artworks on OnlyFans.”
“Major social media channels like Instagram and Facebook have nudity and ‘lewd’ content firmly in their sights,” it added.
Among others, the OnlyFans account will feature artists Egon Schiele, an Austrian Expressionist painter, and Koloman Moser, a twentieth-century graphic artist. On the Vienna Tourism Board’s other social media accounts it teased the so-called “x-rated” artworks, including in a YouTube video showing a suggestive image of a statue with the text: “Want to see Venus — and her mound of Venus?”
This isn’t the first time that the fine art world has run up against increasingly strict rules on depictions of nudity on social media platforms. In 2018, the Flemish Tourism Board mocked Facebook for continually censoring nude paintings from the Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens. And, in the same year, a French court ruled that Facebook was wrong to censor Gustave Courbet’s ‘Origin of the World.’
While social media platforms have a long history of banning sexual content and art that features nudity, even OnlyFans, a platform known for adult content, has considered banning some forms of it. In August, OnlyFans announced it would ban “sexually explicit content.” It reversed its decision after a backlash from the adult content creators that made the company rich, but some creators said that the damage is already done.
Both in the case of the Flemish Tourism Board and its Viennese counterpart, there is a sense of astonishment that artworks that pushed the boundaries more than a hundred years ago are now being censored on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
“Part of what makes this problematic is that there are no clear guidelines on these platforms, nor rhyme or reason, in regards to what nudity is considered ‘offensive’ and what nudity is not,” Hartlauer told Motherboard in a phone call. “We’ve had 3,000-year-old works of art be censored. Clearly there is something wrong here.”