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UK's Tate removes prints by artist guilty of child sex offenses

Visitors to Tate Modern walk through sunlight shining through the windows in London July 30, 2009. REUTERS/Andrew Winning
Visitors to Tate Modern walk through sunlight shining through the windows in London July 30, 2009. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Tate gallery has removed more than 30 prints by artist Graham Ovenden from its online collection after the 70-year-old, whose major works feature young girls, was found guilty of sex offenses against children.

The internationally acclaimed artist was found guilty by a court in Truro, southwest England, on Tuesday of six charges of indecency with a child and one count of indecent assault.

The artist and photographer's images of children, some nude, have triggered several legal actions over the years but his work was highly regarded in the art world and displayed in galleries globally including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

A spokeswoman for the Tate, a family of four art galleries in the UK, said on Thursday that Ovenden was an artist of note, whose work has been widely shown over more than 40 years.

"However, following his conviction at Truro Crown Court, Tate is seeking further information and is reviewing the online presentation of those editioned prints by him that are held in the national collection," the spokeswoman said in a statement.

"Until this review is complete, the images will not be available online and the works will not be available to view by appointment."

The Tate had displayed 34 prints by Ovenden, including images of naked and semi-nude young girls.

Ovenden denied the charges relating to incidents between 1975 and 1985. He was released on bail after being found guilty and has yet to be sentenced.

Ovenden's work has caused controversy before and he has faced court previously.

In 2009 he was charged with 16 counts of creating "indecent" photographs of children and two counts of possessing 121 "indecent" photographs but the case was eventually thrown out.

On that occasion Ovenden pleaded not guilty to child porn offences but did not deny making the images which he said were to be used for an art work.

(Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith, editing by Paul Casciato)

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