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THE DIVINE NUDE ~ 05.17.24

Updated: May 18


"Although it is usually", or often "associated with eroticism, the nude can have various interpretations and meanings, from mythology to religion, including anatomical study, or as a representation of the beauty and aesthetic ideal of perfection, as in Ancient Greece." Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man is a great example of what was deemed to have been perfect proportions. Nudity's "representation has varied according to the social and cultural values of each era and each people, and just as for the Greeks the body was a source of pride, for the Jews, and therefore for Christianity, it was a source of shame. It was the condition of slaves and the miserable." (Wikipedia adapted)


And what the nude is now often associated with really hasn't that changed much.


What has change is that through social media the opposition to the nude is able to be much more vocal, which, in order to pacify them, has in turn resulted in many social media subscribers who include nudity in their work on platforms like FaceBook and Instagram to be incarcerated into those uncomfortable and humiliating haunts like FaceBook jail.


(Since I couldn't bring myself to use the word artists in the context of what's above, I decided to use the word subscribers.)


Censorship?


As public platforms I understand the need for control and censorship. In fact, I have come to endorse it as a means of separating the artistic nude from that which leans into the realm of porn; that which is sexual and/or sexually suggestive. That said, the algorithms employed by most of these platforms are completely unbalanced and ineffective.


Is art that simply includes a female breasts or male buttocks sexually suggestive?


According to Meta, and be it with what was the equivalent of day-passes, my own time spent in FaceBook jail says yes, it is.


I don't think the phrase, as many have claimed, 'beauty is in the eyes of the beholder' really comes into play here does it? Or does it? It seems that if you have a large enough following, or if perhaps you are paying for advertising, (and I won't list any names) there exists some exceptions to these rules of theirs.


Egon Schiele's protest to censorship and having some of his work burned by an authority of the judicial system is relevant here, in that, as Schiele claimed, "No erotic work of art is filth if it is artistically significant; it is only turned into filth through the beholder if he (or she) is filthy."


"With the rise of our exposure to, and the availability of social media to pretty much everyone in the world, clearly with some exceptions being the oppressed societies of the world, some argue that there is a general increased focus on superficial qualities such as physical appearance, material possessions, and social status." And I think it's more than obvious that this is true.


"This can sometimes lead to a perception of shallowness in modern society" (Quora adapted), and, sadly, I think that not only shallowness, but a frustrating trend towards the overall dumbing down of society is what we are witnessing right now, and in a burgeoning way.


So yes 'I' have personally come under attack for displaying nudity in some of, or perhaps a lot of my work.



But, one could argue as did Philo Thelos, that "The existence in so many places of the tendency toward nudity, is not a testimony to the fallenness of man. It is rather a testimony of the original condition of man. What was normal and "very good" for man in his original state, still exists as a desire in his soul. The inner desire to be naked and unashamed is a longing to get back to our original perfection."


It is “an artist", a real artist and not the hordes of hacks out there who claim to be artists, that "is one who can see divinity in nudity!” (R.Pemmaraju)


After decades of surviving my inability to truly think of myself as an artist, it was less than 10 years ago that I finally arrived at a comfortable level of acceptance that an artist is what I actually am, and in that, divinity in the nudity is what I see.


On other side of the spectrum, we have the critics; the ones who immediately associate nudity with sex, and they're often those insecure and hypocritical religious evangelists, fundamentalists and zealots.


Even though it has ramifications in many other ways, I used that word hypocritical because, as Marlene Dietrich stated (and like I wrote above, not much has changed), “Nowhere on Earth" is "sex so vigorously suppressed as in" north "America; and nowhere else" is "there such a deep interest in it.” (Robert A. Heinlein) "In" north "America" sex is "an obsession. In other parts of the world a fact.”


For some, “when" they were "growing up", "nudity was defined as the period of time between the shower and your towel.” (Amy Cohen)


But not for me. Mine was a childhood 'packed' with morals, but simultaneously uninhibited by convention, where sex was 'not' attached to nudity. And I love that about my childhood.


And I also love what the oh-so-beautiful Helen Mirrems wrote of herself, that “I’m a naturist at heart. I love being on beaches where everyone is naked. Ugly people, beautiful people, old people, whatever. It’s so unisexual and so liberating.”



“Almost everywhere in the world, when you are caught by police while walking around in full frontal nudity", even "in the middle of nowhere" where nobody can see you, "you will be forced to put on some clothes, and in addition you will be fined for walking around nude."


"But not in Germany: Here, the police will stop you, asking if everything is alright, maybe check your ID, they will remind you to respect children's eyes if you got aware of them, and then they will walk away to leave you alone.

I love this country.” (Vivian Schey)


Here in North America, nudity is often immediately associated with sex, because this is what religious fundamentalists have been trying to drill into the heads of us since childhood.

I do think that the resistance by artists, the real ones, to unsubstantiated censorship is alive and well, and so it should be, because, as Jesse Bering penned his thoughts, “in adopting a patently false but stubbornly clung-to mythology of human sexuality that makes demons out of natural drives, we’ve entered a stage of moral sickness, not of moral health.” Concluded with what John Steinbeck wrote, “What freedom men and women could have, were they not constantly tricked and trapped and enslaved and tortured by their sexuality!"


“Perhaps the great renewal of the world will consist of this, that man and woman, freed of all confused feelings and desires, shall no longer see each other as opposites, but simply as members of a family and as neighbors, and will unite as human beings, in order to simply, earnestly, patiently, and jointly bear the heavy responsibility of sexuality that has been entrusted to them.” (Rainer Maria Rilke)


Religious strictures", writes Patricia Garfield, "are often the source of attitudes toward nudity. Society urges the wearing of clothing partially as a means of controlling the powerful sexual urges that are feared will be released by nudity, causing chaotic behavior." But the fundamental problem here isn't nudity. It's the lack of control that's deemed it necessary to cover up."


Quite refreshingly, that naively narrow philosophy of all those insecure and hypocritical religious evangelists, fundamentalists and zealots mentioned above quickly falls apart with what Holly Robinson shared, that "Research suggests that children who have seen their parents’ nude do not grow up to be emotionally scarred, but instead are more likely to be accepting of their own bodies and comfortable with their own sexuality."


And not to exclude the male nude, but as Soroya Chemalsy asked, "Why is exposing the world to non-sexualized female nudity important? The real question about female nudity isn't why anyone would want to show or see women's breasts if they're not titillating. The real question is about who has the right to say what they're for, where and when they can be seen and by whom. That's about power."


And just like religion, it's also about control.


Control by men who's never-ending underlying pursuit is to control women. "Men, feel emasculated by women because their manhood is rooted in the 'oppression' of women" (unknown). How true this is, but changing the archaic and repulsive mentality of the patriarchy will only happen from the inside out, through an implosion if you will, brought on by teaching humanities young males to place their masculinity in context of humanism, and not the oppressive religious structure of the patriarchy.


Clementine Ford wrote that “Feminism is a movement that seeks to empower men to be something other than the reductive stereotypes so heavily ascribed to them.” And so it should be, for women are mother nature's greatest gift. As I recently read, women make up half of the world's population, but they gave birth to all of them.


Untethered to the conventions of the growing population of superficial zealots out there who are waving their flags in cursory protests against nudity, it's through our exposure to the divinity that the artists (the real ones) find in the beauty of the nude, that in the end will prove that "nudity quickly becomes unremarkable", and therefore less sexualized, "when generally practiced." (MARTHA NUSSBAUM) It's abundantly clear that there will always be censorship where ever there is nudity and sexually suggestive images, and being indiscriminately slapped in the face with it while looking for recipes for Apple Crumble or local activities for your children is as good a reason as any. It's also the reason why artists need to bolster the strengths of and promote their own websites, which, if they are conscientious about what they show to direct traffic to their sites, is and will likely remain the best and most effective way to go.


I have to think that whomever is reading this and other posts on my Blog, and/or scouring through the images on the rest of my site, are here because they want to be. You 'are' here by choice. Right?


Art has always been my obsession, but it eventually became my religion, with the galleries and my studio its cathedrals; places where "art can never exist without naked beauty displayed." (William Blake)

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