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Re: [teacherartexchange] nudity in art voyerism


From: Patricia Knott (pknott_6_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Dec 16 2007 - 15:13:40 PST

Thank you Jane for clarifying what I said. I meant that the artist
was often the voyeur and sometimes asked the viewer to take an
uncomfortable role-- not that the teacher was getting some
titillation from the subject or presenting it in that fashion.
I think we have to be especially careful about the motivations of the
artist , and it's only through careful study that we can even begin
to convey that. Reverence of the body probably died in the
Renaissance. ( oh--- I don't really know)

there is so much stuff going on beyond the "form."

I don't even want to touch some contemporary stuff because I am
reaching my own "offended limits."

>> The photographer and
>> performance artist, Cindy Sherman, was upset that some people were
>> "turned on" by her images of disembodied figures made out of
>> mannekins and prostheses.

and yep, this is the problem ---making judgments without the

On Dec 16, 2007, at 9:45 AM, wrote:

> Hi,
> I think the response about teachers teaching as voyers is a
> misunderstanding. Some nudes, especially in the 19th Century
> celebrated eroticism and sexuality. Courbet (see The Source of the
> World) was one artist who produced works for private clients in
> this vein and some of the nudes in the Metropolitan collection from
> this era are frankly sexual. But that doesn't mean that teachers who
> talk about voyerism as a feature nudity in art are advocating it.
> Ever since John Berger's "Ways of Seeing" became so popular at the
> college level, at least, the subject of the male gaze directed to
> the nude female in art is widely discussed.
> Reactions of humans to nudity certainly can be attributed to
> individuals' experiences of the body. The photographer and
> performance artist, Cindy Sherman, was upset that some people were
> "turned on" by her images of disembodied figures made out of
> mannekins and prostheses.
> A teacher who responded to a post about nudes in art, a couple years
> ago, pointed out that some people, especially children, whose bodies
> have not been respected - perhaps abused - might not be able to see
> the nude in art as art.
> I mentioned to Patty that my female college students were
> uncomfortable with Courbet's "The Source" when they came upon it in
> the Musee d'Orsay. To disembody all but the nude lower body, is a
> startling image for many people to see, even today. The painting
> is in the galleries along with other 19th century works, placed
> without preamble or disclaimer.
> Some museums put disclaimers on their web sites that there are nudes
> in the museum. I have been in museums over the past decade that have
> put disclaimers in front of galleries that display nudes or
> disturbing images of the body. Cindy Sherman's exhibit, when it was
> in Chicago some years ago carried a disclaimer. The Met had a strong
> disclaimer outside a gallery last year showing works of German
> artists from the Weimar Republic.
> I have come upon the addition of a disclaimer statement in The
> Birmingham Museum site. It states that there are nudes in the
> collection and suggests teachers should preview the museum before
> bringing students.
> If there are disclaimers, and if they seem to be proliferating, I
> mentioned in an earlier post that I wondered if disclaimers might
> be a result of the case widely publicized two years ago of Texas
> teacher Sydney McGee who was dismissed from her school for a
> student seeing a nude sculpture on a school-sanctioned field trip
> and telling a parent. (subsequent reports point out that there were
> some personnel issues, however the main problem seems still to have
> been the student sighting of a nude in art).
> The time, place, age of students, community and school standards -
> there are many things that affect what we can and can't do in art
> studio and art history lessons.
> There is such a good opening here to clarify what your personal
> situation is by talking to your administrators. Some teachers find
> that informing everyone is the best way to keep open communication,
> especially involving parents and colleagues in the school. I
> remember some teachers I have interviewed advocating that "we teach
> everyone."
> Hoping to hear more responses to teaching about the nude in art!
> Jane in Brooklyn
> ---
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