Let me state, right up front, the very obvious. Clearly I don't have a problem with painting nudes per se (previous posts baring evidence to this.... yes yes, the pun is intentional).
In my humble opinion there are two important questions to be asked when it comes to the subject and formulating an opinion on the nude.
1. Is it art?
2. Is it moral?
Both of these questions are answered, I believe, quite simply by asking two more questions. I'll give you a clue ... to me, it's all down to context and intent.
So, is it art?
It would be a foolish person I believe, to argue that a painting or sculpture is not art simply because the subject lacks cloths. Equally foolish to argue that every nude picture is art. So, how does one judge?
I have little difficulty in determining whether a the picture of, for very random example, a tractor is a technical diagram or a work of art! Why not? ... because of the context and intent! Both are usually quite obvious ... if it's an annotated dissection in a textbook, its a technical diagram ... if its a painting of a rusty tractor in a field with unusual lighting and angles, hanging in someones lounge, one can assume it's art.
Michelangelo's "Creation of Adam" or "David"? Medical study? Pornography? Art work? Were they produced for medical study reasons? Hardly practical! Was it produced to titillate? Inconceivable!
See my point yet? Likewise, a photo in an 'adult 'magazine is clear in it's intent. The examples may serve to over-simplify the discussion, but I'm sure you can see my point. If the context is wrong and if the intent is not 'artistic' in nature, it isn't art.
But is it moral?
Again, context and intent.
Nude paintings cannot in themselves be immoral. If the intent of the artist is purely to sexually excite the viewer, I'm sorry, I don't care how technically good the piece is, it is pornography. If the focus is form, light and highlighting the beauty of organic lines, well, then it's probably art. Be careful here not to confuse the reaction of the viewer with the intent of the artist. If the artist's intent is to display the beauty of form and light and the viewer is inadvertently aroused by the painting, that, in my mind doesn't disqualify the piece. It may still have both artistic merit and be moral. After all, if a sexual deviant who is turned on by say, high heel shoes, is aroused by a painting of a shoe, the viewer is the problem, not the artist. It's all down to intent. The same shoe painting in a fetish magazine ... tada! ... immoral! Why? Intent to sexually arouse! Context? Obvious!
The human body is beautiful ... male, female, fat or toned like a gymnast, the lines are incredible and the organic form fascinating. Our bodies are something that unite us and define us all ... they represent our transience and our connected humanity. Personally I can think of few subjects more noble, more rewarding or more empathetic for viewers than the nude. If it was good enough for the masters to paint, it's good enough for me!
So you tell me ... which is more erotic, Venus de Milo, or this?
"Bygone Era 11: Better Than Sex"
Oil on Canvas
20cm x 20cm
Like I said ... sleep deprived ... deal with it!
"There is nothing ugly; I never saw an ugly thing in my life: for let the form of an object be what it may, - light, shade, and perspective will always make it beautiful. " - John Constable