Thursday, 19 January 2012

Nudity in Art

There is an interesting article on the subject of nudity in art, here on ARC website. It makes some good points and is worth a read.

It seems that modern people are often more prudish, puritanical (and prurient) than the Victorians were. This puts me in mind of an annoying aspect of submitting images to deviantART, where all images containing nudity have to be labelled 'mature content'. There is an official inability (or refusal) to differentiate erotic or sexual content with non-sexual artistic nudity. This seems particularly mystifying, and offensive, to traditionally-minded artists especially on the European side of the pond. One feels that if one includes nudity in any context, one is lumped together with pornographers.

I have preferred to put ridiculous shell bras on my recent batch of mermaids, for example, rather than do them bare-breasted and be obliged to put 'mature content' labels on them, (as though the sight of the two concentric circles that comprise a nipple would warp and derange a vulnerable young mind). It is really ridiculous. School kids are dragged around the National Gallery which is full of artistic nudes in classical paintings, nudes adorn public monumens, building facades and fountains, and even churches. To my mind nudity is not intrinsically (or primarily) erotic. To associate artistic nudes with things indecent, by default, is misguided. As the article says, it's all down to treatment of the figure. How much clothing it is wearing is incidental.

The ARC article also touches upon the gender politics related to the subject of nudity in art. Apparently the complaint is that female nudes represent female oppression and objectification, and male nudes represent male dominance (and oppressiveness). Well, possibly this has some justification in some instances, yet it does not hold as a general principle. The overwrought critique seems to belong more to a 'politically correct' attempt to vilify males generally, and to read in to a given artwork an agenda that exists only in the heads of the critic.

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