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Harper Nude Painting By Margaret Sutherland Makes A Splash (PHOTOS)

How much would you pay to see Stephen Harper nude each and every day?

One Kingston artist has put the price at $5,000 and she's getting plenty of attention in the process. Margaret Sutherland's provocative painting 'Emperor Haute Couture' is currently on display at The Kingston Public Library as part of that city's Arts Council show, according to QMI Agency.

The piece depicts the prime minister reclining naked, surrounded by faceless suits, one of whom is handing Harper a Tim Hortons coffee. Sutherland told QMI the painting is "satire" inspired by Edouard Manet's 1863 work, Olympia.

The library has struggled with how to display the nude because the room in which it sits is also used for other events, including children's recitals.

"First they wanted to cover it during certain room rentals because they were afraid of giving offense. Then I heard from several people that they were actually taking it off the wall and then forgetting to put it back up again. I've now provided them with a cloth to cover the painting to lessen the chances they will damage it taking it down and putting it who knows where to sit who knows how long. However, with this kind of behaviour I have little confidence they will actually use it. Where does this fit in with the mission of the library???" Sutherland wrote.

Patricia Enright, chief librarian, told The Kingston Whig Standard that "There were some concerns about moving it, so Maggie, the artist, brought in a cloth. So we’ve been covering it just during those times ... The rest of the time there is a sign saying it is the library board who made that decision to do that in consultation with the Kingston Arts Council.”

Images of the Harper nude have been circulating on the Internet for quite some time and the painting has already been displayed in Toronto at the Edward Day Gallery. So why is the artwork making headlines now?

The controversy over the Harper nude comes at the same time the Tory government is under fire for criticizing a sex education exhibit currently underway at the Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa. The museum raised the age limit to see Sex: A Tell-All Exhibition without a parent from 12 to 16 after being contacted with concerns about its content by Heritage Minister James Moore's office.

It seems the question of whether children and teens should be exposed to nudity -- artistic, educational or otherwise -- has rocketed to the top of the national discussion. Where do you stand? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Harper Nude & Other Paintings
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