Tuesday, September 2, 2008

February 16, 2008

TFL (Transport for London) officials have come under fire for banning a poster showing a poster of a classic nude painting of Venus on the Underground train system because it might offend travelers. What type of travelers, you might ask?

The incriminated poster was part of an advertising campaign for the Royal Academy for a forthcoming show on the 16th century German painter and printmaker, Lucas Cranach the Elder. But TFL said the classic painting breached guidelines against advertising which “depict men, women or children in a sexual manner, or display nude or semi-nude figures in an overtly sexual context.”
The importance of this exhibition was highlighted in the press release from the Royal Academy.
“In March 2008 the Royal Academy of Arts will present the first major exhibition in Britain devoted to Lucas Cranach the Elder (c. 1472-1553). Collaboration between the Staedel Museum, Frankfurt am Main and the Royal Academy, the exhibition will bring together some 70 works chosen to represent the quality and range of this important master of the German Renaissance. The Staedel has generously made available to the Academy major works from its collection of paintings, drawings and prints by Cranach; foremost among them is The Altarpiece of the Holy Kinship, dated 1509.”
The exhibition was open to public and there was no age limit.
Children under seven years old could visit the exhibition free. Now what do we do? There are two options: either cover the “overly sexual” images (Water Nymph resting is another painting in the exhibition) or simply rate the exhibition as improper for visitors under a certain age.

What about the plentiful fashion, cosmetics and perfume-related ads displaying if not as much
flesh as a Venus, definitely a more provocative, sensual and sexual content? They seem to be more acceptable than a 500 year old nude.
Would a prostitute be considered more virtuous than a naked model, posing for an art class, only because one is clothed and the other one naked?
For some minds, exposed body is automatically “inviting”, “asking to be raped” , while covered women are models of virtue, even if their exposed eyes are fully loaded with mascara and kohl, in a desperate attempt to emphasize this part of their anatomy and bring attention upon it. Few ask why a “virtuous covered woman” use make up if she is indeed that “modest”.
If you go on a beach with nudists, that nudity is not more provocative than a pair of underwear on the cloth line.
Nudity can be elegant and refined or cheap and vulgar. A fully dressed woman can be as provocative or earthy as a naked one if this is her intention or she was just simply born with no taste at all. Cranach’s intention was obviously far from our modern concept of sexuality. Five hundred years ago, Venus was simply Venus: an important Roman goddess principally associated with love, beauty and fertility.
Is Cranach’s Venus “overtly sexual”?
The TFL officials behave and think like a bunch of men who see sexual promises and provocations in anyone who has exposed more than her nose. Some seem incapable of noticing that modern men have conquered the battle against their senses and they can control their desires even if they see more than an ankle, a wrist, an ear lob, or a nostril. No matter how “sexy” they are!

Public nudity
In many countries public nudity is forbidden, e.g. in many states of the USA and may be fined as indecent exposure. In Scandinavia, Spain and Germany, public nudity per se is not forbidden, but when other people feel harassed by public nudity, it may be fined. In Barcelona public nudity is a civil right. In the Netherlands public nudity is allowed on sites that have been assigned by the local authorities and other suitable places. In 2004, a Japanese restaurant which serves sushi on the body of nearly naked women caused a storm of controversy in the conservative southwest Chinese city of Kunming. The practice of nyotai mori - eating sushi and sashimi off the body of a naked woman “dates back to the times of the ancient Japanese courts. In 2007, a piece of news was making the headlines for many newspapers: a tall, naked tattooed woman, wearing nothing but golden stilettos, stopped by the petrol station in the town of Doemitz (Germany) to buy cigarettes.

Back in business
In the early 1800’s, Goya’s Nude Maja was declared “obscene”. After outrage in Spanish society he painted “La maja vestida”, The Clothed Maja. But the Inquisition found both paintings unacceptable and thus they were confiscated in 1813, demonstrating that “obscenity” is not strictly related to nakedness. Why didn’t the Inquisition simply burn them? We’ll never know. In 2008, in the UK, the poster of a 500 year old painting is banned from the public sight.
The Inquisition is back.

Posted by Madi Lussier at 6:32 AM  


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