A girl whose nude photo appeared on the cover of an art magazine says she's offended by comments from Australia's prime minister who called the photo revolting.

Olympia Nelson, now 11, posed nude at the age of six for the photo taken by her mother, Melbourne photographer Polixeni Papapetrou.

When the photo appeared on the cover of the July issue of Art Monthly magazine, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd threatened to pull funding for the magazine.

The cover has reignited a debate over depictions of children in art, in the wake of a controversy over photos of naked prepubescent girls by artist Bill Henson.

Nelson said it was ridiculous to connect her nude photo with abuse of children. "I think that the picture my mum took of me has nothing to do with being abused," she said.

"I'm really, really offended by what Kevin Rudd said about this picture.

"For him to be talking about my picture, the picture with me in it, it doesn't feel very good," she said.

Nelson is posed with her left leg bent and arms around the bent leg on the cover. Inside there are photos showing her trying on jewelry, taken by her mother, and nude child photos by Henson.

Nelson also defended Henson's works, which were pulled from a Sydney gallery for investigation.

Art Monthly editor Maurice O'Riordan said he hoped the edition would "validate nudity and childhood as subjects for art.''

The photos were an attempt to elevate the debate over Henson's art, which drew the ire of politicians and was pulled from a Sydney gallery in May, O'Riordan said. Police eventually dropped the investigation and decided against indecency charges.

But federal Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson said he will ask police to investigate the photo on the cover and those inside the magazine.

"What these people have done in this publication and using the photographs of this child in this way, is send a two-fingered salute to the rest of society," he said.

"I will be asking the police authorities to investigate whether there is any breach of the law as it stands by the publication of these photographs."

Robert Nelson, who is Papapetrou's husband, Olympia's father and an art critic for The Age newspaper, said he believed there was very little risk that pedophiles would be attracted by the photo. He said the family considers the images to be creative and artistic.

The prime minister's criticism of the work is uninformed and damaging, Nelson said.

"I think he's welcome to have an opinion on art — I think that's to be encouraged," he said.

"I think the problem arises when, as he did with Bill Henson, he declared that the images are revolting and linked them to the protection of children without a shred of evidence."

Artists also defended the use of a nude photo on the cover of Art Monthly.

"I guess if you're the editor of a magazine which is meant to be reporting on Australia on a month-by-month basis and this has been the biggest thing in Australian art for a long time, you'd be [neglecting] your duty if you didn't actually discuss the debate," said Martyn Jolly, who teaches art at Australian National University. 

With files from the Australian Broadcasting Corp.