Flemish Master Peter Paul Rubens gets Facebook to review its advertising policy

Facebook revises its advertising policy - after a playful protest against artistic censorship by VISITFLANDERS making headlines all over the world

On the 26th of September, Facebook and the Flemish Tourist board VISITFLANDERS had a fruitful encounter in the Rubens House museum: the former home of Flemish Master painter Peter Paul Rubens in Antwerp, Belgium. This meeting took place at the request of Facebook in response to the open letter from VISITFLANDERS denouncing their stiff artistic advertising policy.

The social media platform adjusts its underlying algorithms so that today Facebook users are allowed to see advertisements containing artistic nudity. Where previously an advertisement with, for example, Rubens' version of Adam and Eve was blocked by Facebook, today we can promote gems of our Flemish Masters online. Facebook also indicated that in the short term they will simplify the procedure to contest blocked content with artistic nudity. Or how a playful stunt with an open letter and a constructive meeting in just two months can make the shift from 'inappropriate content' to 'approved content'. The representatives of VISITFLANDERS and Facebook discussed it over a Belgian beer and ended the meeting with a toast on the revision of the advertising policy.

Peter De Wilde, CEO of VISITFLANDERS is pleased: „The result of this meeting is a breakthrough for the artistic scene worldwide. Facebook was fast to respond to our playful protest. We invited Facebook for a meeting to find a solution, and that is what we got. This is an important milestone for cultural institutions and art lovers around the world.” 

VISITFLANDERS is satisfied with the solution: „Social media and art have a lot in common. Art brings people together. Social media brings people together, and our Flemish Masters too.” explains Peter De Wilde. With the new advertising policy, we can finally give the Flemish Masters the attention online they deserve. An ideal sneakpeak to trigger people to come and admire the Flemish Masters in full glory in Flanders.

For hundreds of years, Flemish master painter Peter Paul Rubens has been famous for his ‘fleshy’ nude paintings. When most of their ads to promote the art of Rubens on display in Flemish museums got censored by Facebook, VISITFLANDERS wrote a tongue-in-cheek open letter to Mark Zuckerberg requesting a meeting. It was signed by a group of national and international museums and requested a revision of Facebook’s advertising policy allowing the promotion of historical nude. To illustrate their point with a pinch of humour, the Flemish tourist board published a video featuring ‘social media police agents’ who physically blocked museum-goers with a Facebook account from viewing nude paintings. The result of this playful protest was overwhelming: the news travelled the world and Facebook got to accept the invitation to meet up.


About Visit Flanders

About the Flemish Masters. For over 250 years, from the 15th  to long into the 17th century, Flanders was a figurehead for fine arts in Western Europe and the source of inspiration for well-known art movements of the time, such as the Flemish primitives, the Renaissance and the Baroque. Artists were known for their craftsmanship, creativity and technical innovations and they transformed the prosperous and urbanised Flanders into one of the most refined cultural regions with their impressive artistic and architectural creations. www.flemishmasters.com

About the Van Eyck brothers, masters of realism.  Hubert van Eyck painted part of the Ghent Altarpiece, but wasn't able to finish it. His younger brother, Jan, an absolute master painter, completed the magnificent work after Hubert's death. Jan van Eyck made a huge contribution to the revolution in painting that occurred in the Low Countries. He is one of the most important representatives of the Flemish Masters. Van Eyck is famous for his meticulous, realistic portraits and was one of the first Flemish artists to sign many of his works. 

About 2020, the Van Eyck year. In 2020, the Museum of Fine Arts Ghent will honour Jan van Eyck with the exhibition, ‘Van Eyck. An optical revolution’. Only around twenty of his works still exist worldwide. A substantial proportion of them will be travelling to Ghent, where they will be exhibited beside works by his most talented contemporaries in a rare and unique opportunity. In 2020, Van Eyck will entice the five senses in Ghent. Ghent's visual arts, theatre, dance, design, fashion, cuisine, music and shops will bask in the atmosphere of Van Eyck and his exquisite masterpieces. www.omgvaneyckwashere.be

About Ghent, the home of Van Eyck's masterpiece. The lively city of Ghent is certainly worth a visit. Idiosyncratic Ghent is full of history and offers a cultural cocktail filled to the brim with trendy and modern urban life. Ghent is a city for bonvivants, with a permissive, laid-back atmosphere; a city with a human scale. The friendly, welcoming residents of Ghent know how to live well. During your city trip, don't miss the opportunity to admire the world famous masterpiece, the Ghent Altarpiece, by the Van Eyck brothers.  

About VISITFLANDERS – an agency of the government of Flanders – it is an official tourism organisation responsible for tourism in Flanders. This organisation is dedicated to the sustainable development and promotion of domestic and foreign tourism in Flanders, and aims to ensure increased economic return, employment and well-being (for the residents of Flanders). www.visitflanders.com