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All my nieces and nephews (ages 8-14) have been well taught in Christian modesty.  While we were online yesterday, they all covered "barely bikini" figures (in pop-up windows) with their hand.  (They don't watch TV at all). Their mother is extremely opposed to nudity even in great art (not only for children). So when my 13 year old niece expressed shock and disgust at Michelangelo's art in  the Sistine Chapel, it wasn't surprising. (We were looking at other great art, and the Sistine Chapel just came up).

When I think of great artists,  I think of Michelangelo first of all. No one can deny the immense beauty of his works, and their depiction of the human form, God's creation. Obviously most people today would say that anyone who objects to the nudity in his art is nothing but a prude. What do you think?  What are your reasons? What do you tell to a 13 year old?

Here are a couple of relevant quotes I found elsewhere (food for thought)
Quote:"I can understand that an artist’s intention is to show the beauty of that which was created - that the human body is beautiful and is made in the image and likeness of God. But things have taken a different turn, with the fall of Adam and the act of Original Sin. Making figures clothed would make the statement that God is made in the image of God more powerful by saying that it is a temple of the Holy Spirit and therefore so holy that it must be covered."

Quote:Pope Pius X did not need to cover the figures of the Sistine chapel because they were not nude but had already been covered over.

In the mid-1500s, the Council of Trent had decided that nudity in art was immoral. In January 1564., one month before Michelangelo’s death, the assembly of the Council of Trent voted to “amend” Michaleangelo's "Last Justment" and ordered Michelangelo's pupil Daniele da Volterra to conceal the nudity by painting cloth over the offending, naked genitalia sections. The Pope went around sticking fig leaves to the sculpted and painted genitalia of Rome. Fig leaves are visible all over Rome. In the 17th Century, Pope Alexander VII had the sculptur Bernini cover his statue of Truth" at St. Peter's Basilica (which he had just carved nude) covered with a bronze robe because he deemed the nude female figure scandalous.

Someone in another forum wrote, "Art should take into account our fallen nature - it should help fallen man become more virtuous, not assume that he has already achieved virtue." I agree.

What should be our view of this nudity?  I've seen the Sistine Chapel before, and would gladly see it again, but I think this question is worth asking.
If you consider the human body to be a Divine creation, then nudity shouldn't be an issue. And even if it were, the Sistine chapel is still quite tame compared to the Stufetta della Bibbiena, a private bathroom in the Pope's chambers filled with explicit erotic frescoes (painted by Raphael in 1516) - apparently it was commissioned by a cardinal at the time.
(08-11-2012, 07:38 PM)Metatron Wrote: [ -> ]If you consider the human body to be a Divine creation, then nudity shouldn't be an issue. And even if it were, the Sistine chapel is still quite tame compared to the Stufetta della Bibbiena, a private bathroom in the Pope's chambers filled with explicit erotic frescoes (painted by Raphael in 1516) - apparently it was commissioned by a cardinal at the time.

:O his holiness has to see that every time he brushes his teeth?
I don't know if the pope still uses it, or if it's his official bathroom. Though reportedly, some of the more offensive images were plastered over (I couldn't find any pictures of it - apparently the Vatican is very discrete about the place, they only let 1 reporter in there recently):
http://www.slate.com/articles/life/wellt...hroom.html

(there's no offensive images there, but some of the reporter's descriptions are a bit graphic, just so you know before you read it)
When I taught 5th grade (11 year olds), I encountered this frequently - because I taught a unit on the Renaissance and certainly had to deal with the Sistine Chapel as part of that unit.  I have to say that in my time teaching, I never encountered a student or parent who "freaked out" and I think it had to do with the introduction I gave this particular topic.  Artists during the Renaissance gained prestige by virtue of their ability to create beauty.  Their skill was based in their ability to reflect the Creator's own.  If man is the greatest of God's creations (as the humanists certainly stressed), then it made sense for artists to focus on the human form in art.  This was two fold: to highlight man's unique position among all God's creations and to stress the extraordinary beauty of the human form - a form graced by Christ himself.  (For more on this see Castiglione's Book of the Courtier - book 1 I think.)

Then I explained that there are different types of nudity: the art of the Sistine Chapel is not salacious in nature.  If we can look upon it with mature eyes and accept the beauty of it while not viewing it as erotic (I think I used the term naughty for fifth graders), then we can understand what Michelangelo was attempting to do here.  I would then allow any student who felt they couldn't be mature enough to leave the room - something no student ever took me up on. 

There were quite a few very conservative parents over the years.  I always gave fair notice that we did look at Renaissance art and in particular the Sistine Chapel.  I gave parents the same talk I gave the kids and never had a problem at all. 

I think our own approach to the art can be reflected in our children's response to it.  If we seem disconcerted by the images, then the children will think there is something wrong about it.  If we are comfortable enough discussing these works as the great masterpieces that they are, then the children will rise to the occasion.

I hope this helps.

I think a Puritanical attitude towards nudity in fine art is a recipe for future disaster. They may be covering it over with their hands now, but odds are they will one day find high fashion models and porn, which is almost indistinguishable these days, quite exciting if this repressive mindset continues.

Then again, they may be fine. But, I do believe that fine art with nudity is a way to let youngsters start to have an understanding in a very innocent way, during their age of innocence, to gain a well-formed approach to the body. As form and function. Incessant shame can lead to problems done the road as surely as finding Dad's stack of Playboys in the old days, or seeing something sexually charged on the internet.

In other words, repression and exposure, at an early age can lead to disaster. As in all things, moderation is key.

Anyone else think the Vatican is ugly? The late Frederick Hart should have been hired to do a complete makeover.
(08-12-2012, 03:53 AM)Barbara K. Wrote: [ -> ]Anyone else think the Vatican is ugly? The late Frederick Hart should have been hired to do a complete makeover.

I'd say the Vatican's art and architecture is a bit overrated. The great Catholic architect Augustus Pugin (the leading Gothic revival designer of Victorian Britain) was actually disappointed when he visited Rome. The Renaissance and Baroque popes spent fortunes rebuilding the city to pagan revivalist styles.

(08-12-2012, 04:12 AM)The_Harlequin_King Wrote: [ -> ]
(08-12-2012, 03:53 AM)Barbara K. Wrote: [ -> ]Anyone else think the Vatican is ugly? The late Frederick Hart should have been hired to do a complete makeover.

I'd say the Vatican's art and architecture is a bit overrated. The great Catholic architect Augustus Pugin (the leading Gothic revival designer of Victorian Britain) was actually disappointed when he visited Rome. The Renaissance and Baroque popes spent fortunes rebuilding the city to pagan revivalist styles.

Dont't bash baroque or Bernini. Just sayin....
(08-12-2012, 04:12 AM)The_Harlequin_King Wrote: [ -> ]
(08-12-2012, 03:53 AM)Barbara K. Wrote: [ -> ]Anyone else think the Vatican is ugly? The late Frederick Hart should have been hired to do a complete makeover.

I'd say the Vatican's art and architecture is a bit overrated. The great Catholic architect Augustus Pugin (the leading Gothic revival designer of Victorian Britain) was actually disappointed when he visited Rome. The Renaissance and Baroque popes spent fortunes rebuilding the city to pagan revivalist styles.

Hmm you've introduced me to a new, and interesting, name. I will have to look into the work of Pugin.

If the Vatican looked like Bath, England it would be an improvement.
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