Question of the Week: February 17th, 2015

How do you feel about nude art?

This question was inspired by a post on Queereka (note: contains nudity) a couple months ago.

I am thoroughly indifferent to art with nude women, and somewhat less indifferent to art with nude men.  I’m zealously modernist in my tastes though–I’m all about the abstract art.  It’s pretty hard to avoid noting the correlation between my artistic sensibility and my rather marginal attraction to men.  But then I’m just one data point.

About Siggy

Siggy is an ace activist based in the U.S. He is gay gray-A, and has a Ph.D. in physics. He has another blog where he also talks about math, philosophy, godlessness, and social criticism. His other hobbies include board games and origami.
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20 Responses to Question of the Week: February 17th, 2015

  1. Silvermoon says:

    It’s probably all related. I don’t like “nsfw” types of art; and I’m a sex-repulsed ace. (Although tbh breasts don’t bother me at all because like I don’t think of them in any sexual way?? IDK, like, I own a pair myself and they’re just wobbly lumps of fat so…?)

  2. Rachel Jackson says:

    I definitely have an aesthetic attraction to women, and I love seeing women pose nude or in lingerie or anything that shows off their bodies — artfully, though, not pure pornography. On the other hand, I’m thoroughly indifferent to men doing the same things. But that’s with real-life models. If I see any old-fashioned/traditional art, as in paintings or sculptures, I’m hardly likely to even glance at it. I guess I don’t really see it as nudity so much as just another human body.

  3. Foxnamed says:

    I am literally doing an independent study that covered these two subject in my first readings! John Berger’s Ways of Seeing contains the most phenomenal essay on the nude and how it reflects our ways of looking at and perceiving/enacting woomanhood. Sontag’s “Against Interpretation” elevates the contentlessness of abstract art as a way to combat the destruction of art by Western interpretive ideology.

    Let me know if you want me to scan these chapters in or send you a writeup because they are so relevant to your responses to the question.

  4. Coyote says:

    What a topic.

    Well, I’m not a fan and prefer to avoid it. Nudity-averse, you might say. It helps, though, if the genitals aren’t pictured/visible, and I’m more apathetic about chests/boobs than I used to be.

    But I’m still a fan of clothes.

    • cinderace says:

      This is pretty much me too; when I go to art museums I’m always turning away from the nude statues and would definitely rather look at paintings of people with clothes on than without. A lot of the time the nudity feels gratuitous, and when I know a nude woman was painted by a male artist likely for a male audience, that’s just kind of troubling to me…

  5. elainexe says:

    I enjoy “tastefully” nude art. And old-fashioned pinups; those tend to be cute and fun.
    I do particularly like the aesthetics of women, but it might just be that much art produced is geared towards men and thus features more women.
    For men, I don’t tend to feel the same towards penises. They always seem sexual. So even in art that’s not sexualized…it just feels kinda weird. This too is likely produced by society constantly using the penis as a symbol of sexual power, whereas there is no counterexample in women.
    I think non-Western art might be different though, but I’d have to think about it. Being made in a different context, I might be able to look at it and not worry about American societal attitudes (while probably unaware of the complexities of attitudes of the culture the art was made in).
    I’m also reminded of one reason why I like my favorite music artist, Björk. She does have one music video where she wears a body suit meant to look like she’s naked. This and other songs clearly have sexual themes, but I’m not bugged by them like other such songs. Björk….well. She’s like a force of nature XD Really, the natural world features so much, and she approaches things in such a natural manner; sex and sexuality aren’t treated as ‘dirty’ like other people treat it. It’s put on the same level as other non-sexual things.
    All in all, I guess I can say it comes down to context, how nudity is treated.

  6. sable says:

    I generally appreciate nude people about as much as clothed ones, in art or real. I don’t like seeing anything that seems like it’s private or intended to be sexy to me, though.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    I don’t mind nudity in art, generally speaking. I’m not especially interested in pieces that are just meant to be titillating, but I like it more when nudity and sexuality are divorced from one another. I think the human body can be beautiful, and if an artist is able to capture that, it’s pretty amazing.

    My not-quite-mother-in-law has art of semi-naked women all over her house. To some extent, I think that may have contributed to divorcing nudity from sexuality in my partner’s mind, which I’m grateful for. I tend to prefer seeing the nude female form over the nude male form–not because I am more attracted to women, but because I am often repulsed by men, especially when they are overly muscular.

    I tend to prefer more classical-style nude art, especially sculpture. I once saw a sculpture of a nude woman created by a blind man, who encouraged people to touch it so that they could see it as he saw it. Which of course was weird for me, because being encouraged to grope a nude statue is… if not exactly triggering, then not 100% ace-friendly, either. But it was pretty amazing how many different textures he managed to incorporate into it–the perfect smoothness of the fingernails compared to the rest of the hand, for example.

    Also, more than once I’ve had artists ask me to pose for them. That’s mostly not okay–although if I met an artist that I trusted enough to do that for, I would insist on wearing clothes. I find clothes way more interesting and creative than nakedness overall, and I’d want my creativity to be reflected in any portrayal of me.

  8. I like seeing non-fetishized nude representations of trans bodies in art. And non-fetishized nude represenations of other often-fetishized people in art. I like nude art that challenges fetishization. Nude art that challenges both fetishization and desexualization of the subject is also really cool.

  9. maralaurey says:

    I don’t really have any strong feelings either way in general, although there are certain pieces of art I’ve seen recently that I dislike — I went to an art gallery with Victorian art depicting images from Greek mythology, which the Victorians apparently painted so that they’d be allowed to have nude people in them (because it’s not real people so clearly it doesn’t matter). It all seemed very sexual and one painting in particular was actually really triggering.
    I think having nude people in art is fine if it’s just that — nude people, rather than nude and sexualised objects of desire.

    • Carmilla DeWinter says:

      Hmm. I get what you mean. A lot of that mythological stuff is about women being raped, and I do dislike me idealized portrayals of that.

  10. queenieofaces says:

    I find nudity really…awkward to look at? I know aces who think that naked bodies are gorgeous, but when I see naked bodies I just wind up thinking, “Wow, you look cold,” or “Wow, you look vulnerable and exposed.” I’m not repulsed by nudity, but looking at naked bodies is kind of like looking at hairless cats–not repulsive, but not really something I’m interested in either.

  11. Carmilla DeWinter says:

    I’m willing to look at everything that isn’t actual porn/nsfw, and might even appreciate it, but I can’t help finding penises and vulvas slightly ridiculous, even if rendered tastefully.

    • Siggy says:

      I should add to my original answer that I also find genitalia a bit ridiculous. When I think of nudity, I tend to think of nudity from the waist up.

  12. jbm. says:

    I am fine with it as long as it is not overly sexualised.

  13. I tend to like it a lot of times, depending on how it’s presented. I’ve done (and watched) a lot of dance, so I guess I’m accustomed to partial nudity as a way of seeing what people can DO with their bodies. Seeing muscles at work is fascinating!

  14. Sciatrix says:

    It’s not a huge factor to how I think about art, actually, and is very context-dependent for me. I don’t mind it at all in general, though.

  15. Talia says:

    I feel that nude art can be really transgressive and an important political space to explore from and in. It can also do a lot of other things that are not as exciting, that I would not find politically useful, that are problematic, and that I would want to challenge.

    I respect that many people would not want to engage with nude art for a myriad of reasons, but I personally have and continue to do in a number of ways and for different reasons. Nude art as text is a really interesting place for me to think about asexuality and no sexual attraction from and it’s my asexuality that encourages me to engage with it in ‘unconventional’ ways (whatever that means) and find it fascinating. If that all sounds very vague, it’s (unfortunately) meant to.

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