Monday, 19 May 2008

Artistic License

The other night we watched a re-run of Sex in the City - you know the one where Charlotte has her 'bits' painted - in large scale, and only slightly abstracted.
(BTW I'm only using the phrase 'bits' to avoid grubby mac wearing, anonymous, googler, commenters)
The Husband and I hooted with laughter, firstly because SITC is very amusing, but mainly because his Cousin A actually paints 'bits' - professionally - ooh I should clarify -
she paints pictures of bits....very large paintings...which aren't immediately obviously 'bits' - in fact we've always wondered if it were possible for some slightly shortsighted old lady to purchase one of A's paintings without realising the content....get it home.....stand back to admire the view.....and then say 
"Oh MY!!!!" 
It would be very funny!

That was as far as that little thought process went - until today when the glorious Mrs G wrote a very interesting piece about nudity and art, which prompted us to question "What is acceptable?"  Her example being the apparently now frowned on "Slutbucks" logo.

This made me think of all the prints and paintings we have of nude women....oh and the odd man....In A's early days she painted a sketch, now hanging on our wall - it's fondly titled 'Rob the nob'!

Cousin A comes from a seriously artistic branch of the family - her mother painted this-

Having started our family nudes collection, we started buying other peoples - I'm particularly fond of this one by Trevor Price -

Examining these, I'm left wondering if I feel differently about traditional painters like Botticelli or Gauguin, they painted beautifully, tastefully....
...although the exception to this rule would be 'Dejeuner sur l'herbe which is in my opinion an expensive version of a 'top shelf' mens magazine (is that because the men aren't naked?)

I suppose that at the bottom (excuse the pun) of the question of 'tastefulness' is how you see any form of nudity - do you object to seeing babies with bare bots or are the rows of slowly roasting bare breasted women on foreign beaches objectionable?
When I started questioning my own parameters, I came to the conclusion that we see nudity as funny - because, let's face it our wobbly bits are ridiculous - there's nothing elegant about men's dangly bits or their hairy bottoms... for us, apres childbirth, I'm not convinced any one of us would request being admired sans clothes even if it was sur l'herbe!
Airbrushed size zeros may look more 'tidy' - but they have no shape - so would simply be dull...which brings us straight back again to funny.

I think bare is funny! Which probably explains why our little collection of nudes are just that!
But is that how the rest of Britain thinks? 

Recently English Burlesque has had a resurgence - this is an art form I love, and isn't funny - it's ironic, but very beautiful.
But do I think that - because they don't actually get entirely naked? 
Seeing an hourglass figure, dressed in beautifully constructed corsetry, surrounded by ostrich feathers - does send me into a jealous spin - what I wouldn't give for a pair of white Sally Rand style fans! 

Shape courtesy of Velda Lauder.

For me Burlesque is dance and art and body combined - the more covered the better - it's far more subtle, more clever than nudity. 
In fact Burlesque Queen Immodesty Blaise is rather famous for her reverse strip - she actually puts her clothes on!
What does that say about the British psyche?
Although I have to say this reaction amused me a great deal (If you nip over to You Tube to take a peek at this clip - check out the female judge's badly concealed micro expressions....oh, and her badly concealed nipples!) Girls - you're going to have a field day with this clip!