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Good Nudes vs. Bad Nudes?

Tue Nov 1, 2011, 3:08 PM by techgnotic:icontechgnotic:
''Athena's on the Qui Vive'' by erwintirta

The argument for the nude in art:

Our visual perception of the human face and then the human body has set the basis since the beginning of human history for our sense of what is beautiful and what initiates all our seminal ineffable sublime feelings about the nature of love, life, desire, destiny, eternity, ad infinitum.

The curvatures and symmetries of the human body even lay the geometric basis for the artistic structures of all our art forms, not only for the visual arts but also for literature and architecture.

Given the primacy of the body as the beginning of all that we are in life, and given the eye as the primary receiver for the collection of all information in our lives, how could the artistic nude not be a massively represented art form on a global arts forum like DeviantArt?

And besides, nudes are something people enjoy looking at—and art needs no other justification than being something that brings some small amount of pleasure into our lives.

The Kock In

You mean men enjoy looking at nudes.

You mean men enjoy looking at nudes. And women not nearly so much—because they have to endure the daily indignities of being treated like mindless “objects” by clueless men. Nude art in any media will always teeter precariously on a very fine edge separating the “empowering” from the “demeaning.” It’s all in the context. Helmut Newton famously photographed a model on a bed wearing a saddle. Is this erotic fine art or just high-gloss perversion? Is it the artist’s intent to audaciously exercise his adoration of the nude form or to merely indulge misogynistic darknesses? And you, viewing Newton’s photograph, will have to make your own decision as to the worth of the piece, based in the unique context of everything you’ve experienced in your life.

We don’t really know the artist’s intent—and we’re left with our own reaction to the artwork for judging its artistic worth and merit. That’s the problem.

It’s so intimately

One person’s erotic art is another person’s worthless sensationalism.

There can be no ultimate judge or definer – and thankfully the majority of people in the world have recognized this fact of life and are against most censorships. This leaves us with the vexing debate as to how much nudes is too much nudes on DeviantArt.

The only thought I can offer is that, because men (and women) photographing, painting and sculpting nudes is not going away. We know better than to try to censor art or empower bureaucratic “judges” to set limits, it is imperative that we keep the current conversation going about what is good and beautiful and what is bad and dangerous about our ubiquitous nudes situation.

If only we can remain ever mindful and considerate of—and always remain in dialogue about—the good and bad possible side effects of the nude art we enjoy, then maybe we can have our erotica and our feminism, too.

Kind of like enjoying alcohol, but knowing to never drive drunk. Art is never entirely stand alone. The context is always present, transformative, and as important to the experience of art as the art object itself.

For The Reader

  1. Do you think there is too much nude subject matter on deviantART or is it a non-issue for you?  How much do you think your gender or sexual preferences might influence your answer?
  2. When is censorship of art permissible?   Where would you draw the line?  What rational rule could you offer as a practical guideline?
  3. Have you ever had a work of art you created censored or banned in any way?
  4. If an artist really believes in what he or she has created, how should the artist respond to censorship of that art?  Have you been made aware of an instance of “art suppression” via the Internet?
  5. Would you ever suggest to another artist that he or she should tone a work of art down or agree to the censorship of an art object in a specific situation?

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