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23 May, 2006

Safe Art?

Surfing online, I stumbled on a web site running a contest on "safe art". The instruction said,

"If you've ever walked into a museum with your child, you were certainly shocked at the flagrant nudity being touted around for pure shock value. Whatever happened to morals?...How can you appreciate art when it's so...nude?...your task is to make nude art work-safe in creative ways... Remember, cleanlines [sic] is next to godliness."

What follows is a parade of altered masterpieces, like this one of Eugene-Emmanuel Amaury-Duval's La Naissance de Venus. The original, which you can view here, is one of my favorites.

The other alterations are so tacky it's funny. Maybe that's the point, but I can't help cringing. You can see them here.

As an art lover, I'm dismayed at the lengths we've gone to sanitize everything, even classic art. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft and The Spirit of Justice's breast-covering incident comes to mind.

Have we become so afraid of nudity that even the most tasteful rendition must be covered up? Does showing the beauty of human form translate to lack of morals? If "cleanliness is next to godliness", is nudity in art dirty and ungodly?

Our children are impressionable. Though some may be too young to be exposed to nude art no matter how tasteful, it's important to remember how our reactions influence their perception.

It's a shame if that perception, due to misplaced puritanical thinking, becomes an aversion to any depiction of the human form. Even worse, if it becomes an aversion to the human form itself.

posted at 11:56 AM by City Muse


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