Entertainment

Arts minister will pass on Pop Life exhibit

Federal Heritage Minister James Moore won't be attending a controversial exhibition coming to the National Gallery of Canada, telling reporters on Thursday he "saw enough" during a preview.

Federal Heritage Minister James Moore won't be attending a controversial exhibition coming to the National Gallery of Canada in June, telling reporters on Thursday he "saw enough" during a preview.

The Pop Life exhibit, on loan from the Tate Modern gallery in London, includes some of the biggest names in contemporary art, including Jeff Koons to Damien Hirst.

It created a stir in Britain when it included a photo of a naked Brooke Shields when she was 10 years old before replacing it with an image of her as an adult.

Other works that have drawn attention include Koons's depiction of himself and an Italian porn star — who later became his wife — in sexual poses.

The Ottawa gallery has said two of the rooms of the massive exhibition will be open only to adults or children accompanied by an adult.

The heritage minister said he got a preview of the exhibition when the gallery asked the government to provide extra funding to cover insurance.

"I had a little bit preview of it and I saw enough," Moore said.

"I'm not interested in seeing any more of it personally but individual Canadians have a right to decide for themselves what types of arts and culture they want to consume, and they can vote with their feet and their wallets on their own," he said.

Moore told reporters in French that he was the minister of heritage, not good taste. But he said while the gallery is independent, it should strive to choose content that is accessible to everyone.

National Gallery of Canada director Marc Mayer said 80 per cent of the gallery's content is family friendly, and the Pop Life exhibit is in keeping with the gallery's mandate.

"The job that we've been given by the Canadian people is to preserve their visual art culture and to tell the evolving story of art, and that's what we are doing," said Mayer.

Pop Life is set to run at the gallery from June 11 to Sept. 9.

With files from the CBC's Kate Porter and Sandra Abma