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  1. #1
    David Lyga's Avatar
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    NUDES: aesthetic?, erotic?, literal? ... or singularly apathetic?

    When I am doing something that requires great mental acuity I cannot play classical music in the background because that music’s mental demand conflicts with my other task. I cannot ‘listen’ to classical music without directing an intense mental focus to it.

    Likewise, I find that the human body’s potential erotic ‘beauty’ gets in the way of any loftier aesthetic that strives to be noted and evaluated. I do not find the human body ‘beautiful’ in any sublimated way.

    Decades ago, in 1970 (when the US dollar was worth something), I was in Europe on a three month First Class Eurailpass. I made a point to visit Michelangelo. In Firenze, I visited David and was amazed with the intricacy and detail that the master had captured. But, I will treasure my intimacy with his (Vatican) Pieta much, much more. I saw the Pieta before it was smashed by the deranged Lazlo Toth’s hammer (and subsequently reconstructed in Brazil). I saw it without Plexiglas.

    In fact, I walked up to it and, alone, I glided my hand over it quietly and lovingly. That made a big impression on me: the form of the poses, the empathy and nobility of the subjects, the grace with which the clothing flowed. Far more than a depiction of a grieving mother, here Michelangelo masterfully imparted a successful conflation of spiritual and worldly. I almost was waiting for Mary to verbally communicate her remorse to the dead Jesus.

    I post this to ask others if they witness the nude human body in the same pedestrian way in which I perceive it, be it photographed, painted, or sculpted. Art must say something, I believe, and although humans, be they nude or clothed, might perform, as conduit, the artist’s yeoman’s task of allowing the full, underlying aesthetic to boldly manifest … yet, without the communicative denouement, without subordination of the isolated human form, without other more ennobling factors handily overriding the literalness of the human paradigm, we have, essentially, ‘classical music’ revealed and reviled as, but, enhanced background noise. – David Lyga
    Last edited by David Lyga; 02-10-2013 at 12:40 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  2. #2

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    Your question reminds me of the first time I visited Florence and saw the David. It was 1980, I was 22 years old and visiting Europe for the first time, also on a three month Eurailpass. I was in awe of the work. As I sat contemplating the statue, a tour bus of older Americans arrived. The tourists were probably around my current age. One couple stepped to the side, a few feet away from me. The woman turned to her husband and said, "I think it's beautiful, but why does he have to be nude? Why can't he be covered like a good American statue?"

    I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at the comment.

    The comment reminded me of the saying that when Europeans are asked about nudes, they think of Rubens, Rodin and Michelangelo. When Americans are asked about nudes, they think of Playboy and Penthouse.

    I guess I'm not a very good American, I tend to the European view.
    Last edited by Allen Friday; 02-10-2013 at 02:09 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: Spelling correction.

  3. #3
    lxdude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Friday View Post
    The woman turned to her husband and said, "I think it's beautiful, but why does he have to be nude? Why can't he be covered like a good American statue?"
    Gad, how embarrassing.
    I do use a digital device in my photographic pursuits when necessary.
    When someone rags on me for using film, I use a middle digit, upraised.

  4. #4
    cliveh's Avatar
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    I find the way people behave with their clothes on interesting enough, without even getting to nudes.

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  5. #5
    Katie's Avatar
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    I'm of the prudish American belief that wishes most would leave something to the imagination when it comes to nudes. What you see is never as good as what you can imagine...

  6. #6
    SuzanneR's Avatar
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    I don't know, Michelangelo's David clothed? I don't think it would have nearly the impact, it's quite an extraordinary sculpture of the human form, and there's plenty you can imagine about him. And, like the OP, I saw his Pietá when it was quite accessibly close, and again, it's quite a thing to see. Sometimes, in art, the human form is just that, and sometimes, usually when only half-clothed or when some prudish Victorian stuck a fig leaf where no fig leaf should ever be does it start to titillate IMNSHO. Thank goodness Michelangelo's David was never fig leafed... not sure what I would imagine if it had been.

  7. #7
    cliveh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Katie View Post
    I'm of the prudish American belief that wishes most would leave something to the imagination when it comes to nudes. What you see is never as good as what you can imagine...
    How true.

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  8. #8
    cliveh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuzanneR View Post
    I don't know, Michelangelo's David clothed? I don't think it would have nearly the impact, it's quite an extraordinary sculpture of the human form, and there's plenty you can imagine about him. And, like the OP, I saw his Pietá when it was quite accessibly close, and again, it's quite a thing to see. Sometimes, in art, the human form is just that, and sometimes, usually when only half-clothed or when some prudish Victorian stuck a fig leaf where no fig leaf should ever be does it start to titillate IMNSHO. Thank goodness Michelangelo's David was never fig leafed... not sure what I would imagine if it had been.
    But don't you think that certain parts of the body of David, like the hands are out of proportion?

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  9. #9
    SuzanneR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cliveh View Post
    But don't you think that certain parts of the body of David, like the hands are out of proportion?
    Yes, so? Still a pretty good sculpture of the human form, and in fact,I"m not sure it would have worked so well if the hands were smaller.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by SuzanneR View Post
    Yes, so? Still a pretty good sculpture of the human form, and in fact,I"m not sure it would have worked so well if the hands were smaller.
    I'm with Suzanne on this one.

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