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  #1  
Old 10-17-2007, 03:03 PM
icreate icreate is offline
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Comments for an article, where are the nudes?

My editor sent me the following and I thought I would put it here to see what others had to say about the subject. Perhaps your comments will help me write my article. At the very least it will be an interesting topic

"In reviewing all of the entries for our competitions
(including sculpture) we had virtually no pieces dealing with the
human figure. I would really like to focus on why artists shied away
from this topic and where is the line drawn between art and
pornography. In jewelry, if you had a piece that was being showcased
on a nude model, how much nudity is too much, where's the line? In
sculpture, what poses are acceptable, what goes too far? In
photography, where's the line in a nude photo? I really would like to
explore this topic ? is there a problem? What's the problem? Is it an
American problem? A Christian problem? Please let me know what you
think and if you?d like to explore this topic."
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  #2  
Old 10-17-2007, 05:08 PM
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Re: Comments for an article, where are the nudes?

Porn, naked people magazines, internet nakedness, "nude" sculpture are all alive and well. Don't know what the problem is. I don't think artists shy away from nakedness(pun not intended). Its every where. More than ever. Looks like the editor wants something racy for the cover to sell more magazines. So I guess you'll have to create a controversy by somehow focusing on the "dirtiness" of the unclothed. Otherwise its just clean fun. Maybe had a nude issue where all the artist post photos or art work of themselves--make a calender.
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Old 10-17-2007, 06:49 PM
icreate icreate is offline
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Re: Comments for an article, where are the nudes?

I know in my career as an artist there have been issues with nudes. This was before the age of digital photography when you had to have your reference photographs developed. There is great controversy especially when it comes to children, which I will speak about in the article.

I have not seen many nudes lately, but that does not mean anything. I am not around a lot of art unless at the foundry.

Lets see what others have to say.
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Old 10-17-2007, 07:29 PM
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Re: Comments for an article, where are the nudes?

I should have disclosed that I had considerable professional experience photographing nudes about 12 years ago. This was a side line of minor financial consequence compared to my commercial and advertising work. Never shot children.
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Old 10-18-2007, 10:26 AM
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Re: Comments for an article, where are the nudes?

Non-artists rarely understand the nature of an artist's relation with the body and nudity. They therefore get confused and think we are some kind of perverts, which is never the case for real artists. I personaly think that the human body is of pure beauty. When I sculpt, you can get 10 beautiful naked women to model, I can assure that I won't get sexually excited. This is not the topic at all. The topic of desire, attraction, is about private life ( on the artist's side and the viewer's side as well ).
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  #6  
Old 10-18-2007, 01:50 PM
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Re: Comments for an article, where are the nudes?

I've never shied away from nudes, and if the public has a problem with my sculptures of nude men and women, I have certainly never seen it first hand. I do think there are ways to sculpt the human form that explore different aspects of it. For example the sculpting of a nude woman to represent beauty, nothing overtly sexual about the sculpture, but on the flip side there are sculptures like that of Rodin's erotic nudes. Females in poses that expose their genitalia, legs far apart and pupic hair proud and bushy. I think we can all agree that Rodin is an accepted and succesful sculptural icon, but he was also a womanizing perv. There's nothing wrong with that, it's who he was, and his sculptures are a window into his personality.

There are those who look to stir up contreversy with the naked human form and there are those who approach it from a stand point of admiration and respect. Everybody finds their niche, otherwise the porn industry wouldn't be as succesful as it is, nor would figurative sculpture be as successful as it is (although I wish we could be as succesful as porn). I don't think there should be a limit as to what is too far, that should be left to the viewer to decide. I like looking at naked ladies and I've indulged myself in a bit of porn here and there, but if something ever goes too far for my taste, it's up to me to walk away and stop looking. I'm not going to ask those who created said thing to stop. If the art is not good it will not find success and it will simply fade away, but if it's done in such a way that it draws people to it, then it will survive, and it should be allowed to do so (without protest).

Not sure if that answered any of your questions, I tend to ramble.

Alfred
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  #7  
Old 10-18-2007, 02:04 PM
Seb Seb is offline
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Re: Comments for an article, where are the nudes?

Agree 200% with you Alfred.

I'm not sure if Rodin was a pervert, and as you said if it's true there's nothing wrong with it, but one thing I'm sure : when he was sculpting with models, even in very sexual poses, his eyes we not pervert eyes. I thinks that is where people misunderstand artists.
To finish I would say that a body with clothes is often much more exciting than naked.
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  #8  
Old 10-18-2007, 07:17 PM
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Re: Comments for an article, where are the nudes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by icreate View Post
My editor sent me the following and I thought I would put it here to see what others had to say about the subject. ...

"In reviewing all of the entries for our competitions
(including sculpture) we had virtually no pieces dealing with the
human figure. I would really like to focus on why artists shied away
from this topic ...."
What is this competition? Give us some more details.

There definitely are contemporary artists doing human figures including nudes, in this forum and elsewhere, sculptors and painters.
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Last edited by Merlion : 10-19-2007 at 10:03 AM.
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  #9  
Old 10-19-2007, 03:05 AM
Musicman92130 Musicman92130 is offline
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Re: Comments for an article, where are the nudes?

I don't think Rodin's pieces were perverted at all, I think his crouching woman is done without it being vulgar. However I think he did have a perverted side later in life. In Ruth Butler's book on Rodin she talks about how Rodin liked to have his models masturbate in front of him while he drew sketches.

But back to the original question. I know a lot of figurative sculptors in town and everyone uses nude models. I mean even for Rodin's Burghers of Calais, which had figures draped in cloth, he used nude models. I think it depends on your local environment but it is harder to show your work if it is a nude. Some shows state that nudes will not be accepted. Also, I think with clothes it opens a broader market, because some people don't feel comfortable with nudes in the house. I know I gave my Mother a relief with a nude woman and my Grandmother was shocked you could see the nipples. As a result I think most sculptors I know who sell on a regular basis add clothes. There is only one guy I know who does almost exculsively male nudes and does really well. But he sells mainly to the gay market, which may or may not be a niche marke depending on how you look at it.
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Old 10-20-2007, 04:52 PM
furby furby is offline
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Re: Comments for an article, where are the nudes?

firstly i don't think anybody's shying away from it, he just got a bunch of sculpture in that was mostly not figures. there's plenty of figures around the place. maybe he needs to instead have a look at why figure artists didn't bother entering them to the competition.....

secondly from what i hear on this forum there's some serious problems with people in the community seeing nude sculpture & getting horribly upset about it. it sure would be an interesting article in a sculpture mag to investigate this area in a bit of depth.
some of the things that come to mind:
- what kind of work is offending people (does it have to be very realistic or does impressionistic figure work also manage to offend)
- how many people are offended (and how many/few letters to council does it take to have a sculpture removed) .... i think this is a key point cos govt tends to crumble under the weight of any possibility of being sued for putting sex & children anywhere near each other, and since children also walk the streets of our town... but we may be talking about a very small minority of complaints & a reflex action by govt
- is it across the country/world or just in the more bible belt areas of the US
- is it bad art if it makes people obsess over the rude bits
- does bad art get as many complaints as nude art & WHY NOT!
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  #11  
Old 10-21-2007, 09:35 PM
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Re: Comments for an article, where are the nudes?

Bridgette,

I think the points furby brings up are all direct and pertinent to your query. (well said furby!)

I feel it is the political atmosphere in this country (USA) expousing what I can only consider a cultural barrenness that has more to do with the lack of the nude in the competitions than anything else.

It certainly isn't the only reason, for instance the magazine for which you are researching the article (presumably), is one for which I have seen a number of the prospectii/calls-for-entry over the last couple of years. Though I do not subscribe to the magazine, I look through it on the news-stand often enough to state that I almost never see any full frontal nudity in a highly naturalistic work. Stylized - yes, cutting edge - not-much-at-all.

So given the general editorial purview of the magazine is it any wonder that the readers (i.e., the majority of applicants who apply for the competitions) don't want to risk the competitions with anything too risque? I mean, if John Ashcroft has to have Justice's breasts covered, what message does that send to the aspiring artist who reads the magazine? I dare say most of the readership are young and aspiring-enough that they are not likely to welcome any rejection (and much less so any rejection based on something that could label their work obscene), so they submit the PG version only.

I say look at furby's points, and look at the readership (from which most of the competition's applicants derive) and you don't find avant-garde 'let's see what we can stir-up' attitudes, instead you are much more likely to find play-it-safe don't-rock-the-boat applicants.

I - as a sculptor whose work encompasses primarily highly-abstracted/stylized work but also includes naturalistic figurative subject matter (including some rather explictly erotic work at that end the spectrum) - have never considered entering the competitions. Mostly this decision was because of the wording in the calls-for-entry about the work being suitable for reproduction in the pages of the magazine (and the general readership). But, perhaps I am inferring too much from my observations of the magazine in question.

I think the lack of entries of the nude figure comes down to the artist's general perception of the prevailing 'cultural' climate (in terms of what will be exhibited) rather than the artists simply discarding the nude figure as subject. The pendulum will swing back, I am sure.

Don

Last edited by dondougan : 10-21-2007 at 09:36 PM. Reason: typo
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  #12  
Old 10-21-2007, 10:21 PM
icreate icreate is offline
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Re: Comments for an article, where are the nudes?

These comments are wonderful, please keep going. I must clarify that this is for The Best of Artists and Artisans online magazine and not for Sculptural Pursuit magazine, the other magazine that I write for. I have asked my editor to give me more information about the competition.
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Old 10-22-2007, 12:18 AM
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Re: Comments for an article, where are the nudes?

Don, Is what you said to to do with both religious and politcal atmosphere ?
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Old 10-22-2007, 01:05 AM
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Re: Comments for an article, where are the nudes?

Bridgette,

OK, with the clarification in mind, I will say the two prospectii I could find for submission into the 'Best of . . . ' books do not word their acceptance information in any way to specifically or implicitly limit imagery.

This does reduce both the evidence and some of the specific wherefores for the argument I put forth, but it doesn't affect my overall opinion as to prevailing climate of political correctness, and certainly not the points made by furby.

I was invited to submit examples of my work for the 'best of national' book (which I did). The $35 fee was minimal for the degree of potential exposure it might generate, even allowing for their sales hyperbole. In choosing the work I submitted, I must say my primary consideration (given the wide stylistic range of things I do) was to put forth three examples of the boldest, strongest work (naturally) but also something that would be the least controversial in terms of imagery. [Hey, I may be opinionated and very eclectic in my tastes, but I ain't an idiot <grin>]
For my first choice I provided not anything purely abstract, nor anything figurative, but a piece that was conceptually layered as well as being easily recognizable (a stone boat with mixed media). My second choice was figurative, though in a limited manner - a humorous bronze casting of a mouth being stretched with fingers. The third choice was a completely abstract wall piece with an admittedly enigmatic title. All three of the pieces were strong examples of three types of work I do, and if they had allowed more images (for the fee) I would have perhaps provided a large freestanding work or an abstracted/stylized figure, but I would never even consider to include any of my more explicit works for the simple reason that it would be controversial and probably not productive given the broader potential market I would hope to attract in this type of 'advertising' venue. Of the three submitted, they went with my first choice, which was arguably the most easily-recognized form and seemingly the least controversial in terms of political correctness.

Whether or not the book is distributed as widely as their copy proclaims, I consider the $35 well spent if even only for a brief line on the resume -- anything else is gravy.

When I looked at a copy of the book online page-by-page, I did notice there was very little in the way of figurative work that was not highly stylized. I would suggest that perhaps the lack of specific wording in their call-for-artists copy in terms of the breadth of what they are looking for is self-limiting, even if unintentional. I imagine most of the folks who submitted wanted to provide work that was their best work that also did not have an obviously overt political/social edge to it. It is designers/decorators showing these images to their clients that are the big market for this book, right? Who wants to be embarrassed while you're trying to sell something? [= NO SALE] And - for the reasons stated above (as suggested by furby, et al) - that would include anything more suggestive of sexuality than mild titillation. I have a feeling the editors would find the political content of the submissions to be equally middle-of-the-road for very much the same reasons.

One last observation concerning the nude figure in art. Sixty, eighty, one-hundred years ago art was perceived by the general public as having the purpose of telling a story, or as representing a story with a moral included. A broad generalization that could be argued with many exceptions, I know, but I speak of the person on the street and their perceptions -- by-and-large I do not speak of critics, artists, or the upper crust.
The nude was quite often presented in the thin cloak of allegory -- idealized figures for a socially convenient pretext for acceptability that prevented the nude from being obscene. Modern art has dispensed with that pretence by-and-large -- both for the idealized form and for the pretext -- so now a nude is just one step away from being naked, and nakedness (warts, wrinkles, pubic hair and all) is more than the average person on the street is willing to accept as 'art.' I happen to greatly admire Ron Mueck's work in the way he uses scale and hyper-realism to make us re-think the foundations of our perceptions. [I happen to believe that those re-evaluations that art engenders are major propulsive factors in cultural development] But even Ron Mueck has yet to present us with an acne-scarred teen in all their unpleasant glory -- could it be that he idealizes his subjects to some greater or lesser extent?
But - even so - I know that most of the people who see Mueck's work read it more as a carnival side-show than art. I may be wrong, but I'd bet that 99% of the designers/decorators would NOT show books to their clients if his work was typical of the 'best of' series (hard to fit a Mueck into almost any but the most eclectic decor, hmmm?). But give it a century or so, and perhaps it will fit right in. <grin>

There will always be those who view all nudity as obscene, just as there will always be libertines who view almost nothing as obscenity. As usual, for most of us the dividing line will depend upon context, and context is heavily influenced by prevailing social climates.
Which brings us right back to the reason there are not many nudes in advertising to decorators/designers who are in turn trying to sell things to their clients.
Especially not when Justice has to be covered-up.

Don
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Old 10-31-2007, 09:23 PM
icreate icreate is offline
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Re: Comments for an article, where are the nudes?

according to my editor,
"We've held 16 competitions over the last two years, 9 national and 7
state. Except for a few in sculpture we had no nude entries. None in
painting or photography."
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Old 11-01-2007, 02:52 PM
furby furby is offline
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Re: Comments for an article, where are the nudes?

Thats kind of sad really..
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Old 11-03-2007, 11:12 AM
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Re: Comments for an article, where are the nudes?

My sculpture is entirely focused on the nude. The effect of life on the human form has intrigued me through years of painting and now sculpture.
There is no better landscape depicting the human condition than the nude.
I'd love to see the finished article
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Old 11-03-2007, 06:29 PM
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Re: Comments for an article, where are the nudes?

Donald, Thanks for joining and making this post. I just visited your homepage, and I especially like the wire gestural studies. Many are very provocative. We've just been discussing Alexander Calder in a different section, and people have remarked favorably on his work in a similar vein. In his case, mainly or entirely circus figures.
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Old 11-03-2007, 07:21 PM
dskolberg dskolberg is offline
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Re: Comments for an article, where are the nudes?

Thanks for the comments and taking the time to look.
I've been working on new gestures that are now closer to real life size, using 12 gauge wire. Hope to have some complete and on the site in the next couple of weeks.
As to Calder, the intricacies and emotion on the simplest of line in sculpture coupled with the sense of movement, real or perceived, is truly a work of art
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