Tuesday, March 6, 2012

But... Is It Art?

(Warning: This post may be NSFW)
(Not anymore since I removed the images in the aftermath of an author getting sued for image use. Links are provided instead.)

In the literary world, we get a lot of dissent (I'll call it that to be polite) about what constitutes art. Pretty much, the big guns are of the opinion that if it isn't literary fiction, it isn't art. And, it seems as if it's too popular, it isn't art either, but I could be wrong on that last bit. A few years ago, Stephen King got some big deal award and the literary world was all up in arms because he wrote popular fiction and, not just that, but *gasp* genre fiction. Apparently, you can't be brilliant unless no one reads what you write.

(Creation of Man with very naked Adam=Art: http://mv.vatican.va/3_EN/pages/x-Schede/CSNs/CSNs_V_StCentr_06_big.html)

At the time, I did some grumbling about how other forms of art don't suffer from this problem. But something came up recently that made me rethink this. Now, to be fair, one could argue that photography and painting aren't the same thing, but considering 1) they didn't have photography when the image below was painted, the argument is moot, and 2) we'll call it literary fiction versus genre fiction if that makes it easier.

Anyway, I was talking to some people last week regarding Pinterest and that I write both YA and adult--basically wondering if I could use the same account for both. It was decided that there were a couple photos that were too racy for teens. (I'll share them as we go.) Now, this isn't to say the people who said this were wrong. They'd be uncomfortable with their teens seeing the photos, and that's totally fair.

(Jon Bon Jovi naked but covering his naughty bits with Superman undies=not art? http://www.perfectpeople.net/article/1353/4183294/jon-bon-jovi/hot-in-cleveland-will-air-on-tv-land-youngstown-vindicator.htm)

But... I bet they'd take them to the Sistine chapel, or even allow them to write a report (with pictures) on Michelangelo. If you notice, in the picture above, Adam's choicest bits are all out for the world to see. The same is true of Michelangelo's statue of David. Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man also is rocking out with his cock out. I could keep going, but the point is a nice chunk of art by the masters involves full frontal nudity. I'm not suggesting that we should cover it up, rather that we don't tend to look at it sexually.

(Hot pic of Ryan Kwanten in nothing but a towel removed completely since I couldn't find anything that seemed like a legal use of it. Sorry.) 

However, when it comes to photos of people, that changes. Now, I'm not trying to say that the images of Jon Bon Jovi and Ryan Kwanten are on the same level as master works, but what exactly differentiates it from art so much that it is inherently sexual and "forbidden"? (Especially considering they show less.) There are photographers who are considered artists, but if they are artists, then wouldn't that make any professional in the industry an artist as well (just perhaps not as renowned)? If one of those "master photographers" was to take a photo like this--of a famous person or an unknown--would that make a difference?

As I said, I'm not harping on the people who said the images were too racy for teens. I wouldn't have asked for opinions if it wasn't an area of concern to start with. But since then, the question has plagued me. When it comes to nudity (or near-nudity), where is the cut-off between it being sexual and not? Art and not?

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