I’m not the biggest fan of the selective depth and weight of art history, however I recently came across the iconic The Birth Of Venus painted by Sandro Botticelli; not that I’ve actually laid my eyes on the original but the image randomly introduced itself to me whilst doing some casual Google research for this post.
The Birth of Venus was the equivalent to Beyonce’s Lemonade album in that it caused a stir because of the inherent sexuality contained within the imagery. Birth of Venus is highly regarded as a fine example of the visual sensuality and celebration of the female form in a similar vein to Venus of Urbino painted by the Italian master Titian, The Nude Maja by Francisco de Goya or Leda and the Swan by Michelangelo.
So allow me to stretch the limits of imagination and good taste….
Imagine a world where you and I decide not to binge watch Daredevil season 2 on Netflix but instead decide to experience the culture and inviting aroma of our local art gallery. I’m pretty sure that if we spent the evening together surrounded by the aforementioned artistic works on display, nothing would stop us from bathing in the cultured sophistication of the evening. I imagine we would continue to sip from our glasses of wine and celebrate the brilliance of these artists and their interpretations of the female form.
There is a stronger outcry of dissatisfaction with sexualised imagery when the likes of Beyoncé decides to release music in the form of a visual album?
Make no mistake my friends, I feel there is a strong argument to be made on the negative impact of living in a fast paced, digitalised, hyper sexualised world but I still wonder why viewing semi/fully nude women in oil paintings or haute couture magazines is deemed socially acceptable, but if similar semi nude images are seen in music videos it provokes more outrage?
As insane as it is for Miley Cyrus to swing naked on a wrecking ball or for Rihanna to walk around in a thinly veiled top on a song entitled “Work” (yes! I know she isn’t singing about her 9-5 day in the office!) surely if you take issue with the blatant use of sexuality in those forms of visual entertainment then don’t you have to take issue with a woman standing naked on a seashell with her modesty only covered by her hair?
Before the dawn of photography, television, radio, newspapers, magazines, communication devices or the internet the most prominent form of visual entertainment was hand drawn art. Much of the historical art that is critically recognised is littered with the sensual iconography of the female form, with works that were produced, composed and painted by men and I wouldn’t be too surprised if the suppressed desires of those artists filtered through into their work.
I do realise that it’s in the execution and the way something is presented and represented but I don’t know if it’s fair to say that one form of nudity is acceptable because it is set within culturally “sophisticated” conditions and other forms of nudity are wrong because they fall short of a certain standard.
Until next time.