Tuesday, June 4, 2013

"Dirty art"...

Warning... this post includes photos of naked people depicted in murals and sculptures, all of which were photographed in public places in Europe.  If you are offended by artistic nudity, please move on to your next stop on the World Wide Web. 

Just a few minutes ago, I was staring at this blog, trying to decide if I wanted to post anything today.  I've pretty much milked our recent trip for all its worth, after all.  And then I visited one of my favorite online hangouts and quickly got inspired.

Someone had posted an article from KSL.com about residents in Coalville, Utah whose city was beautified by a statue called "Leaf Dancer".  Artist Milt Neely had made an abstract sculpture of a woman wearing leaves.  Apparently, some of the local residents felt the statue was "immodest", so they began collecting old clothes, which they then used to dress the statue.

The artist apparently doesn't mind that his artwork is being altered.  He says he wants people to talk about his art; otherwise why do it?  I have to admit he has a point... although to me it does seem very disrespectful to take it upon yourself to cover up someone's else's artwork.

It then occurred to me that if any of the folks who felt that statue was "immodest" ever went to Florence, Italy, they would be in for a real eyeful.  Bill and I toured a museum in Florence that featured works by Michaelangelo... nude statues that displayed the human body in all its naked glory...  I have to admit, I've been married for ten years and I was a little awestruck by the sight of some of that art.

Two murals we saw in a Florence cathedral...  The residents of Coalville would be scandalized!


On the other hand, I guess there is something to be said for having fun with art.  Case in point, Mannekin Pis in Brussels, Belgium regularly gets dressed in outfits that come from around the world.  Mannekin Pis wasn't dressed when Bill and I visited him in 2008.


Mannekin Pis


Jeanneke Pis

God bless the Belgians!!


A storefront in Venice.  The mannequin is wearing a pair of sparkly undies that says "I love my president..."

I guess if the artist isn't concerned about it and the community likes it, it's okay to cover up the "dirty art" in Coalville, Utah.  At least they're doing it with a sense of fun and not shaming the poor artist for being too "immodest" with his vision of his artwork.  But it also drives home to me that I would probably hate living in Utah or any other place where people are so squeamish about "modesty".  I think it's a stretch calling "Leaf Dancer" immodest... and feeling the need to cover up an abstract statue is weird and ridiculous.  The female form isn't nasty and sculptures aren't actual humans.  It's the same kind of nonsense as the mom I blogged about who complained that her daughter's Barbie dolls were akin to porn.    


A naked statue in Norway.



This sculpture was in Liechtenstein...

2 comments:

  1. Hehe! There is a local statue here that regularly gets costumed up. It isn't because he's naked, though (he isn't. He's surfing in swimming trunks), but because he's got this stupid look on his face that sort of offend the local community of cool surfers. The real name of the statue is 'Magic Carpet Ride', but he's known around town as 'the Kook'. I always take a photo of him when I ride by on the Pacific Coast Highway since he's always dressed up in wacky signs or garbs. Last Christmas he was even eaten by a cardboard shark. :oD

    Anyhow, there's something dodgy about folks that can't stomach artworks because they depict naked people, I think. It's a telling thing when someone can't look at a naked body without thinking dirty thought or feeling shameful about it. :oP

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  2. That's cute, Smorgy! I must confess that I once had a neighbor who had a tacky, plastic, pink flamingo that he put at the end of his driveway. There were days when I was tempted to dress it. I resisted the urge, though.

    The funny thing about this statue is that Leaf Dancer wasn't naked... exactly. I mean, it was a pretty abstract piece of art to start with and there were "leaves" covering up what would have been private parts. The person on the video quoted as saying the statue was immodest appeared to be a teenager, who ironically happened to be wearing a rather form-fitting t-shirt. I wouldn't say what she was wearing would have been acceptable on a college campus like Bob Jones University or Pensacola Christian College. I bet she would have been outraged if someone suggested to her that her clothes were "immodest", because by local standards, they probably weren't considered immodest. In other places, though, she would have been considered immodest for wearing such a tight t-shirt.

    My point is, I think modesty is in the eye of the beholder... and people shouldn't foist their ideas of modesty on other people, especially if you're in a public place (private college campuses are a different story). I don't think we should be encouraging teenagers to deface artwork, either... "modesty" be damned.

    Anyway, this town is obviously making the "dirty art" fun and if the artist isn't upset, I guess I'm not. But it sure says a lot about the community when such a cute, young blonde girl is talking about a statue being "immodest". This is the time of her life when she should be enjoying her youth and the cuteness that comes from being young, not fretting about modesty standards-- her own or that of an abstract piece of art made of iron.

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