To Editors: While I generally like Robin Abcarian’s columns, she ignores the claim that the photo of Spencer Elden as a naked child on the cover of Nirvana’s 1991 album “Nevermind” is child pornography, thousands of years by artists using a nude , ignores baby to take a political or social point of view.
According to Elden’s analysis, the baby John the Baptist, who shows the baby Jesus a fragile bird in Raphael’s Madonna and Goldfinch, was painted apparently standing at an odd angle to show his genitals. The full-bodied boy in Boucher’s “Cupid a Prisoner” is in the middle of an orgy, and the child in Delacroix’s “Medea” is apparently into sadomasochism.
I’m not an art historian, but I’m a lawyer, and abuses like this lawsuit demean the public’s already uncertain belief in the rationality and fairness of our legal system.
Stephanie Scher, Los Angeles
To the Editor: Although I was a member of the California State Bar, I have no expertise in the field of law relating to Elden’s lawsuit. However, I think Abcarian missed the boat on several counts.
First, Elden’s parents had the right to sell his painting because of its age. It turned out they got a bad deal. If they believe they have been misled about the use of the photo, they should have complained years ago.
If Elden believes his parents should have sued, his lawsuit should be against them. How does the statute of limitations not prevent this lawsuit?
Second, Elden’s attorney’s assessment of the so-called Dost test for child pornography can benevolently be described as far-fetched. The water indicates sexual activity? Is it intended to provoke a sexual response in the viewer? Barely.
I’m sorry Elden feels hurt now, but I think he’s late for the fair. Still, it would be noble for Nirvana to blur the offending portion in the future (and, to be nobler, give Elden a share of the proceeds).
Andrew E. Rubin, Los Angeles