LAST_UPDATESun, 22 Jul 2018 9pm

Fox News Blurs Out Breasts On Record-Breaking Pablo Picasso Artwork

A leading US art critic has blasted Fox News for being "sexually sick" after the network blurred out the breasts on Pablo Picasso's The Women of Algiers (Version O) in a report about the masterpiece selling for a record-breaking $US179million ($227million) in New York on Monday.

The New York magazine senior art critic Jerry Saltz took to Twitter to voice his disapproval, tweeting: "How sexually sick are conservatives & Fox News? They blurred parts of the Picasso painting #SickMinds."

His consternation was echoed across various other Twitter users, who labelled the move "bizarre" and "pathetic", with one user including the hashtag #freethenipple, referencing the recent campaign against censorship of the female form.

In the screen grab of the report on Fox News, the nipples of three female figures are blurred out, despite its significance as a major artwork.

The 1955 work became the most expensive painting ever sold at auction, with the record-breaking total reached in 11 minutes of furious bidding, surpassing its pre-sale estimate of $US140 million.

The 121cm-by-152-cm canvas, the Cubist masterpiece depicts courtesans in harem. The artist created 15 variations of Les Femmes d'Alger, inspired by the French master Eugene Delacroix, who in 1834 had painted Women of Algiers in their Apartment. Picasso embarked on the epic project in honour of his friend and competitor Matisse, who died in 1954, and the final 1955 canvas – Version O – is the most highly acclaimed.

-Sydney Morning Herald