'To make oneself hated is more difficult than to make oneself loved" is one of the many aphorisms attributed to Pablo Picasso.
He had better sayings. Sometimes people make it seem very easy.
In fairness, hate may be overstating the response to Edinburgh Airport's bemusing decision to cover up a nude by the Spanish painter in its international arrivals hall, for fear of upsetting passengers. But the airport's managers certainly won't be winning any prizes for diplomacy or timing.
On the eve of the opening of the world's biggest arts festival, in response to what they admit are only a handful of complaints, managers at this gateway to Scotland decided the poster of a picture by arguably the 20th century's most important painter was causing offence. Only a few days after it was put up they concealed it – while asking the gallery to find an alternative.
The work, Nude Woman in A Red Armchair, featured on a poster advertising a Picasso exhibition at the National GalleriesScotland. It is acclaimed as one of Picasso's most sensitive and beautiful works.
It was ever thus. As players and audiences arrive in the city, this apparently prudish and rather knee-jerk response might remind readers with longer memories of Edinburgh's former Conservative Councillor Moira Knox, who could be relied upon on to herald every Festival Fringe with ready outrage at the depravities on offer in venues across the city.
Predictably the response from the National Galleries of Scotland was not to immediately rush to find a replacement for the poster which had served to advertise the same exhibition for six months in London. Instead, director general John Leighton condemned the decision as bizarre and described the portrait as "joyous and affectionate".
There is a real danger here in reacting too swiftly, and with excessive sensitivity to the concerns of what is in all likelihood a tiny minority. Taken to their conclusion such decisions can have a chilling effect which verges on censorship.
As leading figures from the visual and dramatic arts lined up to pour scorn on the decision, the airport's management performed a volte face of a speed not seen since Argyll and Bute Council banned nine-year-old schoolgirl Martha Payne's blog on school dinners.
Rightly so. The picture is not in any way pornographic, neither is it erotic, and as commentators pointed out, it could be argued that it is considerably less offensive than many of the representations of women routinely seen in advertising and popular culture.
Picasso had another famous quote: "Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." In the light of this sentiment, the painting can be seen as exactly what the weary visitor needs, a sort of cultural and spiritual shower to alleviate the rigours of air travel and, as such, an entirely appropriate way to greet new arrivals to Scotland's festival city.
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