Thursday, May 10, 2007

What is (Nude) Art?

WARNING: Links in this post lead to news articles containing artistic photographs of naked people.

Picasso, 1907, Les Demoiselles d'AvignonIt's a highly debated question: What is art? Many approach the answer by saying what art isn't. Is it art simply because it's shocking or disturbing, because it makes you think, or only if it's beautiful?

You may have seen and/or heard about the most recent photo shoot by American photographer Spencer Tunick. He is known for his nude photography. So here's my question to you - is it art?

Michelangelo, 1501 - 1504, DavidI'll come right out and say I think it is. It's very provocative and creative. Artistically, the human body becomes an element instead of just the subject. I wonder if this might be a perspective our Creator has.

A definition of art that I use is that it's creating a new perspective on a familiar thing or the exploration of what things are made of by recreating them out of context. For example, drawing or painting a fish using nothing but black lines and still communicating the characteristics and environment of a fish. Or creating a picture of a fish out of macaroni by determining what characteristics macaroni and a fish have in common or in what new ways can you look at macaroni that can make it communicate "fish". Either way, you are either stretching the view of the subject or the medium.

Tunick describes his photographs this way:
"I aim to get a sculptural feel for groups of bodies, as well as create performance art." - Telegraph

He's scupting by exploring the use of a new medium.

Botticelli, 1485-1486, The Birth of VenusSo what do you think of his work?

Nudes were very common in works of the great masters. Is it different because Tunick uses photography?

At what point does nude art become pornography?

Has the church played a role in demoralizing art simply because of the nude?

1 comment:

Erin said...

As a mother, I find myself slightly torn on the issue of nudity in art. Sometimes I'm very alert to the naked-factor, and other times I'm too enraptured in the art to notice, "Hey, that guy has no clothes on!"

I did not find anything particularly inspiring about Tunick's nudes en masse. To me, it looked like a bajillion naked people all standing in a city square. BUT... I don't know much about the artist or his mission statement. If I look at his work from the angle that all of humanity is stripped down to it's commonalities (flesh and bones) I think he could be saying something profound. But again, I'm not clear on what he's trying to portray through nudity.

I will say that the human nude is a form like no other in creation. It is truly beautiful and honorable. I think nudes can be done not only tastefully, but in such a way that it would actually be an insult to drape them.
Of course, it can also be done in the most base and perverted of manners, can't it?

Well, how's that for fence-sitting ambiguity? ;)