Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fear of the Nude

If you are a figurative artist than I believe you know how difficult it is to exhibit nudes, even partial nudes in American settings. A country that has violence in high schools, mayhem on streets, several wars abroad and glamorizes heroes of violence in mass-media cannot face a nude in art center.
The shock, the trauma, even possible collapse and cardiac arrest may ensue if a visitor to public art show would be unexpectedly presented with a sight of a nude. Oh, horror! What those depraved Satans of art had done to my innocence, now and forever bespotted, contaminated with the offensive image!
 It was so cozy and safe when all the exhibiting spaces were covered with acreage of abstract art offending no one. You could walk safely past yellow circles and red rectangles and pajamas-like stripes toward some nasty splatter and listen to assertive screech of the art-docent showing how to say “wonderful” as if it was three words ,a name of a Dutch master Won der Fool. And so it is all “WONderful”, except that this exclamation is reserved for lady-docent and art curators because it is evaluative and you should pensively say “interesting…”while looking at the pajama-stripes art-work. 

                                                           Kenneth Noland

Here is art that shows gums but has no teeth. It is guaranteed to be safe for children up to the age of two. Past that age however it may actually slow the cognitive development from Homo erectus to Homo sapiens. Visiting today’s museum, library or art-center you are safely in Crayolaland build for children. In contemporary world people expect they can take their children any place with them and complain if some of those places are not accommodating ‘children’s needs’.
Here is an incomplete list of groups most likely to press against showing nudes at a show:
-women who think that painting nudes is comodifying woman’s body and therefore is “degrading” women.
-those among Christians who abhore pleasures, sensuality, Eros and beauty of human body.
-the rigid doctriners of modern art who see no place for figurative art in contemporary culture.
- parents who drag along, push strollers and piggy-back children everywhere and want the whole world to be expurgated for their little tots.
-small-cranium hypocrites who think that any, even the most reverent show of nakedness is “pornography”.

 Beneath is a tiny sampling of XX century nudes which I will increase over time.

                                              Balthasar Klossowski de Rola,known as Balthus

                                                                        Egon Schiele

                                                                              Otto Dix

                                                                   Stanley Spencer

                                                                       Andrew Wyeth


  1. Thanks for making this very important point. As a father who stresses reading and art I am appalled by nonsense my children bring home from school. It frightens me that teachers and parents seem so influenced by mass culture and media, and that intelligence,understanding,and compassion are going by the wayside. When this happens the gap is unfortunately filled by corrupt amoral forces like religious groups and political ideologues who pervert our freedoms in order to destroy them and monopolize by their own financial agendas and hidden perversions. This seems nothing now but should the scale of want tip to the scale of mass despair, we would see these forces become full-blown fanatics. Art and attitudes towards art are perhaps the most important barometers for the health of a society. We should all be reminded of Hitler's "Decadent Art Show," which not only failed to expose what the regime considered decadent art, becoming one of the most viewed exhibitions of all time, but starkly exposed the Nazi pornographic thumb-sucking conception of art. The subtle symbolism in Otto Dix or Emile Nolde can hardly be considered offensive compared to acceptable Nazi nudes which were always plastic and obvious. When the majority believe a lie, the lie becomes a monster.

  2. Exactly, Henryk. I raised my son in a town of these people. Ultra violence in film: Fine. Mindless killing video games: No problem. Allowing your 13 yr old daughter to dress like Lady Gaga: Sure. Nudity in art...Never! Thank you for sharing these beautiful paintings. I especially love the first pencil drawing (?)