I’ve been reading a great blog called The Culture Monk by Kenneth Justice. You should check him out, he’s got a ton of thought-provoking posts and the one I just read is titled “Getting Naked for Art is Wrong…Really?”
The post reminded me of funny story…when I was an art student in college I took figure drawing as required for my major. At the end of the semester my Italian Nonna wanted to see what I’d done over the semester so my Mom and I packed the car with my art to take it over to her. I started pulling out the nude figure drawings to leave them behind. My Mom said, “Why aren’t you bringing those? I think you should”. I was mortified. Show the nude drawings to my modest, religious little old grandma? But my Mom just said, “All those old churches in Italy have nudes in them. Let’s see how she reacts”. Reluctantly, I agreed to bring them. It turns out, she really liked them. Particularly a pastel drawing of a very handsome young man with nice buns.
It wasn’t until years later when I went to Italy on my honeymoon that I understood why Nonna was ok with her granddaughter drawing naked men. My Mom was right…it wasn’t just the frescos in the churches that had nude and semi-nude figures in them (and not all of them were stick-thin). There were centuries-old larger-than-life marble statues out in the streets like someone forgot to put them away. We never actually made it to see the David because the line was so long and there was so much else to see and yeah, there was a lot of nudity. But you didn’t think of it as overtly sexual, it was just amazing art depicting the beauty of the human form.
Now, It is possible my Nonna didn’t realize there was an actual naked handsome man in the classroom that the class was drawing. Or maybe she did.