In a couple of previous posts, I seem to have stirred up a bit of controversy regarding the art world. Perhaps I should clear things up a bit; I am not against art in general, or even modern art. I've spent many a happy hour in art museums, and even have a few original pieces in my own home.
What I was getting at is simple; meaningful, significant art represents something, and our appreciation (or rejection) of it ought to depend upon our knowledge of what it represents. Is it David, or Eros? The girl next door, or Aphrodite, or Picasso's soon-to-be ex-girlfriend? A landscape of London, or Kabul? Culinary art, or cannibalism? Talent, or the scribblings of a two year old?
I would suggest, moreover, that when art involves nudity, the Aphrodite/Eros hypothesis should not be discarded lightly. Again, that is the way nudity returned to art in the western world after a hiatus of over a millenium--it shouldn't be controversial among those who know art history, really.
Can it become pure? Well, that's not the conclusion of most historic Christian and Jewish theologians, for whom to "uncover one's nakedness" meant to instigate sexual relations--as is hinted in Leviticus 18. Not a direct argument, but a strong hint from Scripture that there is something amiss.
A stronger question derives from the nature of art; what is its message? What are we supposed to carry away from the painting or sculpture? Is that a message we need to be carrying around in our minds?
I won't presume to answer for everyone, but I must admit that I'm having trouble figuring out pure and holy messages that would be communicated in this regard. Maybe it's just me.
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