Monday, August 25, 2008

Art and the Church Part III

Nudity in art -- talk about a hot-button topic! And it's a tough issue for the Christian who wants to master traditional art. After all, the Bible tells us to dress modestly, to avoid all appearances of evil and all that. And for some, nudity (in art) = pornography -- period.

But, as always, exceptions exist. Most obvious: sometimes it is necessary to disrobe -- partially or completely -- the body when undergoing a medical examination or procedure. What about artists? Do we also have an exception?

Well, the Bible doesn't really say one way or the other when it comes to artists. But this is a case where if one wants to become the best traditional artist one can be, it means we MUST draw and paint the nude. In fact, traditional studies in ateliers called for mastering the figure, still lifes and landscapes, then -- if the artist desired -- specialize in one of those areas.

Any artist who has mastered the figure will claim the human body (and face) are the most difficult subject to get right. So if you do well with nudes, you can do well with virtually anything.

So to the Christian artist who wants to work in traditional realism I would say: you MUST commit to doing what you have to do in order to become great in your craft. As with those in the medical community, dealing with the body and body parts goes with the territory. You may prefer to look at nudity as a necessary evil -- then so be it -- but it is a part of becoming a great artist worthy of the talent God has given you.

Here's a quote by Michelangelo: "To copy each one of those things after its kind seems to me to be indeed to imitate the work of God; but that work of painting will be most noble and excellent which copies the noblest object and does so with the most delicacy and skill. And who is so barbarous as to not understand that the foot of a man is nobler than his shoe, and his skin nobler than that of the sheep with which he is clothed, and not be able to estimate the worth and degree of each accordingly?"

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