Unlock Art: Naked or Nude?

Unlock Art Undressed

Is there a distinction between a ‘naked’ or a ‘nude’ body?  In the art world ‘nudes’ have been a celebrated subject matter for centuries.  They are not view rated or seen as perverse.  Take a topless girl in a lads mag and the reaction is somewhat different.  Why is that?  Well yesterday I popped along to the Le Meridien hotel in Piccadilly to watch the latest Unlock Art film ‘A Brief History of Art Undressed’ in an effort to find out why.

Following the viewing of the film, we headed off to TATE Modern, where art expert Linda Bolton was on hand to present a curated tour of the gallery’s signature nudes.

Dating all the way back to 1901, Rodin’s ‘The Kiss’ presents a naked couple in the throws of passion.  It was considered back then that by using subjects from classical mythology or the bible the nude was made respectable.  The were often idealised and portrayed as powerful perfect males and faultless shapely females.

Unlock Art Undressed

In comparison the most recent piece on the tour from 1974 by the American artist Barkley Hendricks Family Jules entitled ‘NNN (No Naked Niggahs)’ provokes a bit more controversy.  So much so that certain big companies have asked for it to be removed or covered during events they have held within the gallery – I am pleased to say that TATE do not honour this request.  I wonder if the same bigwigs would find Michelangelo’s ‘David’ as offensive.  Some how I doubt it.

After the tour it was back to the Terrace Bar & Grill at Le Meridien where Frances Borzello, author of ‘The Naked Nude’ (Thames & Hudson, 2012) hosted a nude themed afternoon tea.  Frances is an interesting character, engaging if a little potty perhaps.  She told us that a combination of her ‘hatred of boredom’ and fascination with the world of blogging prompted her to get involved in the project.  She was as interested in our backgrounds as we were in hers in fact.

The Naked Nude

Frances led a fascinating discussion on how we are ‘terribly comfortable’ looking at old-fashioned art where the subject is ‘idealised’ and therefore, almost not real. However confronted with a non-idealised nude, people in the present day don’t know how to react and act in its presence.

Only recently there was a campaign to have lads mags like ‘nuts’ banished to the top shelves, why when they show less flesh than is on display at most museums.  This sexed up approach to nudity is not so well received and the girls who take their tops off are seen as degrading themselves. W hat makes the glamour girls in these magazines or films any different to the nude models of days gone by?  Where does the line fall between art and porn or gratuity and are these becoming all the more blurry?

Naked or nude?  Where do you stand on the subject?

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