Page last updated at 13:58 GMT, Wednesday, 24 June 2009 14:58 UK

Museum omits 10 Lenkiewicz works

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The museum said it would have been irresponsible to display the works

A Devon museum has excluded a number of paintings from an exhibition of works by Devon artist Robert Lenkiewicz.

Ten sexually explicit paintings have been censored by Plymouth City Museum after they were deemed unsuitable for younger audiences.

Some of the paintings feature intimate sexual acts and sexual violence.

A spokesperson for the museum said it would not be responsible to publically display some of the work by Lenkiewicz, who died in 2002 at the age of 60.

Nicola Moyle, curator of Plymouth City Museum, said the museum felt it would have been irresponsible to have included the paintings in an exhibition staged at this time of year as it was a popular time for school visits.

'Responsible' action

Another concern was that a child-friendly exhibition is currently being staged in a gallery next door to the Lenkiewicz exhibition.

"The works are, we felt, quite sexually explicit and quite sexually violent in some cases," Ms Moyle said.

"The responsible thing would be to not include these works which cause these particular concerns.

"We would have had problems with parents and schools asking us why we felt it was appropriate to include them.

One of the paintings excluded from the exhibition
Ten paintings were excluded from the Robert Lenkiewicz exhibition

"We did not have a way of restricting access to the gallery without compromising health and safety and fire exits."

However, Francis Mallett from the Lenkiewicz Foundation, believes the museum was wrong to remove the controversial paintings from public view.

"They are actually offending people because they are restricting the ability of people to make up their own minds and to see a very serious artist who spent a lot of time in Plymouth and to see the full extent of his works," he said.

Lenkiewicz, the son of Jewish refugees from Germany and Poland, moved to the south west of England in the 1960s.

He courted controversy with portraits looking at themes such as vagrancy, sexual behaviour and suicide and in the 1980s he embalmed the body of Edwin MacKenzie - known as Diogenes the tramp - as part of his studies.

He died after suffering from a serious heart complaint.



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