A Life in Paint
I've been stewing about something for the past while! The other day, well more like a few days ago, I posted the painting pictured here, When the Tide is Out, on a particular social media site (okay, never mind all this, vague "social media site" crap, I posted it on Facebook), and some clown commented on how offensive it was. Now, I understand that as an artist who shows his work both in person and on social media, I am leaving myself open to the critique and criticism of anyone and everyone who sees it. I get it. I also understand that my natural inclination does not easily bend toward easily accepting criticism. It's something I'm actively working on, and I'm improving day by day.
However, I fail to see what's offensive here. I deleted the comment, I probably should have left it there and allowed the debate to continue, but I didn't. It was a knee-jerk reaction. In any event, several people rushed to the defence of the piece.
I've painted nudes before, and I'll paint them again, but that comment, along with all the political correct crap that's been going on here in Canada with the Art Gallery of Ontario's renaming of paintings with "culturally insensitive titles" (if you'd like to read my post on that particular issue, you can find it here: http://www.parkerart.ca/life-in-paint/when-art-and-political-correctness-collide), got me thinking about what's offensive and what isn't. Of course, today, in particular, I'm thinking about nudes in art and whether or not it's offensive.
Nudity in art is nothing new, it dates back hundreds of years, literally hundreds of years, and that's the stuff we know about! I'll bet ancient cave dwellers drew a few nudies on the cave wall from time to time. To me, whether a nude is offensive or not is in how it's presented. Harper's Bazaar did an excellent article and slideshow about 10 of the most influential nude paintings throughout history and for the most part, the pieces are beautiful. They aren't all to my taste in terms of style, but they certainly aren't offensive (to see the article, here's the link: https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/art-books-music/g7285/nudity-in-art-history/).
Of course, if a piece is intentionally lewd or depicting overtly sexual content, I can understand how some could find it offensive. Personally, I wouldn't be offended, but I would agree there would be a time and place for it and that such eroticism may not be for the general public at large.
That being said, the human body, male, female, big, small, is a beautiful thing. It deserves to be celebrated! The human is God's highest form of creation (I use God here in the general "universal" sense, meaning however we got here, we're a pretty freakin' nifty machine). When I paint a nude, I strive to make it as tasteful as possible, and for the most part, I think I do a pretty damn good job. With this piece in particular, you can't really tell if she's even nude or not, she's side on. For all you know she may have one of those bathing suites on that kinda snag up the bum.
Some of the most beautiful paintings in the world are nudes. And if you're offended by them, or this one, well, to me, you'd be offended by pretty much anything and I'd advise you not to peek in the mirror after your shower, because that offensive image you see might just be you.