Is it Art?

Ever since early in my college career, I was taught that nudity is often artistic. Of course, it has to be “tasteful” according to art etiquette, but that’s a pretty subjective term. I even had an assignment as a 19 year old photography student to shoot a nude person.

But what’s the distinction between “artistic” nudity and “pornographic” nudity? Most people tell you that “you’ll know when you see it.” But again, isn’t that pretty stinking subjective?

For example, if a 12 year old boy sees an “artistic” nude photo, isn’t that pretty much good enough for him? For that matter, isn’t the Sears catalog good enough for him?

I have no idea what the steadfast criteria are, because I don’t think there are any. Many a controversial “artist” was accused of being a porn peddler only to be defended by the ACLU. That ultimately extends the definition of artistic nudity farther and farther, and makes “pornography” a small and extreme subset. It’s only porn if it depicts a sex act, right?

That’s what we learned…

I’m not saying I know the answer to the question. What do you all think?

  4 comments for “Is it Art?

  1. BJD
    May 2, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    I think the body is an amazing thing, but for too many people, “art” is just another word for “sleaze.”. How about art as subtlety, nuance,mystery, and privacy, rather than in-your-face and perversion of good things? Art? Please.

  2. May 2, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    I generally use Boticelli, Ruben, and Boris Vallejo/Julie Bell (for whom I have modeled) as my guidelines. I think that nudity without genitalia is artistic … display of the genitals (not just the female pubic region), to me, constitutes porn. The difference is erotic versus explicit.

  3. May 3, 2009 at 5:43 am

    Art is whatever.

    That’s the conclusion I came to at the end of my art education and art career. It’s not a statement I’m thrilled about but one that is more honest than any other I have ever come across. Art is anything. Art is everything. Art is whatever. Pretty liberal thing to say, I know.

    I personally believe art is like love. This begs the question: is art, like love, qualitative or quantitative? If only a handful of people perceive something to be art and a majority don’t, does that mean it’s not art? Maybe it’s simply ahead of its time. Maybe that handful of people have no taste or any sense of what art truly is. If I say I madly and truly love my wife but someone out there who gets 10,000 people to say I don’t, does that mean I actually don’t love my wife? Or does that majority know something that I don’t?

    What could possibly help validate one’s opinion/perception about art then?

    Guidelines.

    This is a fairly accurate way of distinguishing between the art vs. porn issue:
    Subjects should not be positioned in a manner to suggest sexual penetration, genital to genital contact, genital to anal contact, oral to genital contact, oral to breast contact or oral to anal contact.

  4. livieloo
    May 4, 2009 at 7:11 am

    I agree with Danjeruskurves

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