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[teacherartexchange] nudity in art teaching US vs Europe


Date: Wed Jul 11 2007 - 08:53:26 PDT

I am off to Europe (France and Italy) to photograph and talk to
farmers. When I am there I always spend a lot of time in museums,
churches looking at art.

I can't help noticing the difference in how kids react to nudity
over there. No big deal. Kids go to the Accademia and draw the
David complete with genitals. No big deal. Second graders.

In Venice I watched a middle school group analyze paintings, many of
which included nudity. No big deal. Teacher pointed out various
things about composition, how the paintings held together. No
pointing. No giggling. No one getting suspended. No teacher being

So I wonder. What is it that makes it so different here in the U.S.
trying to teach art with history examples and contemporary examples
that include nudity - even abstract nudity like Matisse's circle of
dancers has been cited as a problem.

There is a huge disconnect between what we preach: higher order
thinking skills, art that attends to visual culture, connecting
important historical art practices with student practices etc.,
except: No nudes is good nudes.

So why is it such a problem here and not there? I'll be visiting
French and Italian friends at various spots and I will ask them the
same question, and I'll let you know what they say.

Meanwhile, any ideas?

Jane in Brooklyn, soon in La Belle France and Bella Italy.

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