Let’s Keep the Conversation Going

Two weeks ago I posted two fine art photos showcasing the beauty of a woman’s body. I was excited by some of the positive/negative offline chatter, which made me study harder and explore the history of photographing the human body even more. Today I share a bit of what I’ve learned and look forward to keeping the conversation going online.


The ARTIST Barbara Kruger asks:

When is something art and when is it obscenity? Where do you draw the line?

One recent blogger said:

“I don’t think a line can be drawn in the sand on this subject.

What some may consider acceptable art/nudity others may find distasteful…
I don’t think the debate over what is or is not art has ever been resolved but it would be nice to think it could be sorted here.”

The ARTIST Nancy Spero responds:

I’ve defined pornography as stuff that exploits women’s bodies, and particularly in a harmful way.

I agree with the artist  Benny Andrews who weighed in on this debate (perhaps referring to the images of the nude as art) 

”… but the other elements that make up an artistic objective would also come into play. Elements like form, line, color, shape, all the things that go to make up an artistic statement through different media. The subject matter is just one of those elements.”

He reminds us that: ” All of us bring experiences to what we look at and that helps determine what we see. The fundamentalist Baptists bring certain references to what they look at. A nonreligious person brings another set. That’s what’s so important about a free society. To allow different expressions.”

My photographs of nudes could best be summed up with the words of writer David Leavitt who said:

“I think they were meant to do all the things that art does-be beautiful formally …”

In Hubpage, M.T. Dremer weighs in on this debate:

“These are all things you’re probably familiar with; the Statue of David, the Venus de Milo and the Sistine Chapel. These are all classic pieces, universally agreed upon that they are, in fact, art. They also have something else in common; they all depict nudity. … but if you re-create that picture or sculpture, with a real-life model and take a picture of her or him, then that same exact image is no longer appropriate.”

So let’s keep talking!

3 responses to “Let’s Keep the Conversation Going

  1. Thad, sounds like whomever had a problem with the 2 photos has a low aperture of 6.3. Art is everything. As an Artist you have to bring the beauty that is in everything out. Did whomever have an issue with your photos have an issue with National Geographic photographing nude Women in the Amazon or Africa? If so…they are hopeless idiots.


  2. Herb Ritts, in my world, is the absolute best photographer that ever lived. His work with changed my mindset on what beauty is within all races. In college, my first photography paper was on Herb Ritts a classmate, black woman, found him offensive because she didn’t like that he focused on the flared nostrils, dark complexion, curves and she felt he was making a mockery of black people. She preferred that he soften those features and make them more commercial. I realized then that she felt exposed by his work because all that she was complaining about she had. I think your critics might feel exposed.


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