Nudity in classical art

Anyone who has been to any art museum, especially those featuring traditional works, will know that they contain rampant full frontal nudity. This is a problem for the media in the US when they have to report on record-breaking auction sales of art works like Modigliani’s Reclining Nude because they have to deal with readers and viewers who are offended by the sight of naked humans even in paintings and sculptures. Should they show the work as is or cover up the naughty bits?

Stephen Colbert has fun with the rules that TV networks in the US impose to prevent children’s minds being destroyed by exposure to the human body in art. I knew that there were rules but I was not aware that they were so absurd.


  1. says

    When embarrassing lists of countries are compiled (e.g. death penalty, poverty, economic disparity, lack of medical care, lack of maternity leave, etc.) is seems that only the US appears on all of them. People should be ashamed of that, but many on the far right in the US are actually proud of it.

    Another list that the US appears on (along with socially repressive countries like Saudi Arabia) is countries that flip out over nudity in art. Not pictures, just sculpture and paintings, and idiot politicians are among the worst leading the way. Remember 2002, when John Ashcroft wanted statues covered at the Department of Justice because of his personal emotional insecurities? Those who are publicly prudish are often the most privately prurient. The count of sex scandals, pedophilia and fetish activities involving “family values” politicians and theocrats numbers in the thousands.

    Here’s a song written about Marcel Duchamp’s painting, “Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2” It’s a Modernist painting, mostly shapes and blocks, and I bet that painting would make some freak out. The video for the song certainly would.

  2. mordred says

    Nice commentary from a German comedian I heard recently:

    “We all know breasts are bad for children. Especially for infants!”

  3. Great American Satan says

    @1 -- Aww, Poison Ivy and the late Lux Interior, cutest sexually deviant couple in rock evar. Also, that song is hilar. As is the Colbert bit. America is mad weird.

  4. StevoR says

    And yes, my using “the guy” means I can’t even recall and nor do I care who he was.

    ‘Cept he got away with it and she wore all the blame. (If “wore” is the right word there ..)

  5. estraven says

    Body parts. What is wrong with parts of the human body? Here in Michigan, a woman state legislator was banned from speaking on the floor of the House of Representatives for using the word “vagina” in a speech opposing an extreme anti-abortion law. I brought this up at a gathering and to my astonishment people said they totally understood why that would be offensive. I said, “It’s a part of the human body, that’s all it is!” But no, apparently female body parts, especially, are shameful and should not be mentioned publicly or in polite society. Then there’s the whole breastfeeding in public thing. What do people think those body parts are for, anyway?

  6. Mobius says

    I was at a university art print sale and two sorority girls were looking through a stack next to me. They came across Birth of Venus and one girl gasped, “She’s nekkid!” The second girl responded, “That’s a famous painting.” to which the first girl came back, “But she’s nekkid!”

  7. mnb0 says

    I suppose that the people who freak out on that silly The Cramped video don’t own Rush -- Hemispheres nor the Blind Faith album.

    “What do people think those body parts are for, anyway?”
    To do unspeakable things, of course.

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