A supposedly nude photograph of screen icon James Dean with an erection has been excluded from a London art exhibition after staff decided the man in the picture was an imposter.

The National Portrait Gallery's (NPG) The World's Most Photographed exhibit includes previously unseen pictures of icons like Marilyn Monroe, MOHAMMED ALI and Elvis Presley, and were offered the controversial shot of Dean by novelist DUNCAN FALLOWELL.

The shot shows a man, with an erection, up an apple tree. The NPG declined the use of the photograph.

Fallowell says, "They wouldn't display it because it was too naughty. They were initially very keen to see it, but eventually it was vetoed from the top. Unfortunately, the male nude is still taboo, even at the NPG."

Exhibition curator ROBIN MUIR says, "That simply isn't the case - in fact, the photograph is a relatively inoffensive male nude. The problem is it's not James Dean. It's a fuzzy, grainy person up a tree.

"We would have loved to have used it, but we just couldn't be sure it was him."

05/07/2005 05:20