Thursday, 12 July 2018

The NUDE Starship Underpants

We interrupt the Starship Underpants series to bring you a serious post worthy of consideration and debate and we would be happy to hear your point of view and opinions.

The last episode of the Starship Underpants dealt with the story of Lady Godiva, an 11th-century Anglo-Saxon noblewoman who throughout her life had donated a lot of money, land and jewellery to establish various monasteries and to help good causes in England. She lived in Coventry and seeing that the folks of that town paid too much tax agreed to ride naked throughout town if her husband, (the ruler of the town), would lower the taxes.

Now we don't know whether the Godiva story is true or not. But can you imagine the conviction and love in the woman? She felt so much pity for the poor tax-payers of Coventry that she agreed to humiliate herself for them. Having given away a fortune in her lifetime for others, she went a step further still in order to alleviate the pain and suffering of others.

That particular episode of the Starship Underpants asked the question as to when is nudity "acceptable"; especially if it is in the aid of someone else less fortunate than ourselves. We are grateful for your responses in the comments box.

Denise in VA, (check her Blog), however, raises another pertinent point. She says "... magnificent works of art bothers me not. I was once told off by a visitor for not giving a warning when I posted a photograph of a nude statue ..."

Leaving aside for a moment our personal nudity for the benefit of a good cause, like paying the medical fees of a sick child, or relative, facing death, (I'm sure you can think of other causes). Leaving that aside, Denise's comment raises the question of when is nudity art, therefore "acceptable".

For many many years artists, painters, sculptors and photographers have been fascinated by the nude body. It has been accepted as art and admired by many over the years.

Look at the two pictures below:

This is a painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir painted in 1888 and entitled "After the bath". It is one of many nude paintings by this artist. No doubt you can think of many other paintings and sculptures of nudity by famous and not so famous people.

This is a photograph taken by an SLR Camera with an automatic shutter speed and blah ... blah ... blah ...

Now over to you ... would you consider both pictures as art?

Why? Why not?

When is the naked form considered acceptable as art?

Some famous nude paintings have, at the time, and since, been considered as provocative. But are they art? Are they "acceptable"?

Consider for example Édouard Manet's "Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe", also known as "The Luncheon on the Grass".
Here we have a naked lady having a picnic with two fully dressed men. Controversial enough as a picnic scene until we learn that Manet's wife Suzanne Leenhoff posed for the naked woman, although the face on the painting is that of another model. Stranger still, the men sitting beside her are Manet's brother Gustave, and his brother-in-law Ferdinand Leenhoff.

Can you imagine the tongues wagging at the time when people found out who the characters are in the painting?

Can you imagine Manet's wife agreeing to pose for the painting? Was it a good cause in her eyes? Yet, she felt that her face should be replaced by that of another model. I wonder why?

Can you imagine Manet asking his wife to pose for him in the presence of his brother and his brother-in-law? All in the cause of art?

Supplementary question: What are the two men talking about, the football game on TV last might?

Plenty to discuss here - over to you.


  1. Nudity is fine when it is not obscene and distasteful or inappropriate. Some have trouble distinguishing these finer points.

  2. Nudity in works of art such as the ones you shared here, Victor, are perfectly acceptable. After all, God did create us as we are, and we shouldn't feel shame about it. However, back to your prior question, I just would personally feel uncomfortable posing nude for a portrait.

  3. Victor! I worked in an art museum for over 20 years, and every day during the school year, fifth graders came to us on field trips (over 6,000 kids during the school year). Whenever we featured an artist who had nudes, we had to put them off in a corner of one gallery and warn the docents to not go there with their tours. Parents would complain, for sure. Now I can understand that if the art was somehow erotic and not necessarily appropriate for young kids, but the masters who painted and sculpted nudes... I just don't understand how the human body, displayed as beautiful, is pornographic or not appropriate. We all have those parts and all came into the world nude. The two images you asked us about are both art, in my mind. The photograph, done in pencil or paint, would also be art. This discussion can be a long one with many opinions. There is nothing ugly about Michelangelo's David, yet there was a public outcry when a local nursery had a replica garden statue displayed where it could be seen from the street. Please!! The museum also offered adult life-drawing classes with nude models. Anyone under 18 had to have permission from their parents and there was always at least one younger student in the class. The human body is beautiful no matter the age or shape!

    1. We seem to agree, Terri. However, these days of "enlightened liberal" thinking, there are many who object to such paintings and sculptures.

      God bless you.

  4. I agree with what Terri is saying. Nude art can be interpreted many ways with many individuals. If you think it is obscene then that's what you think. I also believe the way we were raised and the people who influenced us when we were young have an impact on how issues like these are understood.

    1. You are right, Bill. I agree with you.

      Sadly, these days of increasing intolerance, we seem to be influenced in a different direction and made to feel that if we don't agree with today's society then we are in the wrong.

      God bless you always.

  5. Art is in the eye of the beholder because of their beliefs or the fact that some consider the human body as nothing more than a sex object or obscene. Now we should be honest here and admit that there are some who should maybe reconsider posing in the nude for any reason. But if they must...they must.
    Why women should be naked in a painting while the men are fully clothed...maybe they weren't at first and after seeing what they looked like they begged the artist to paint some pants and such on them :)
    Once I watched a documentary about the Vatican and they told of them removing the male penis off all of the nude statues! They opened up drawers then and they were filled with stone male parts and I am not going any further. Okay...I admit it! I couldn't stop laughing for days! Just telling you and your readers about this has me laughing again!
    We won't all agree but isn't that wonderful in its self! Its called freedom to choose.

    Blessings Victor~

    1. All right, Jan. Now you have got my mind doing somersaults.

      What you are telling me is that in the Vatican they removed all the male penises off the male statues and put them in a drawer so that visitors would not see them.

      What I don't understand is; how did they know afterwards which penis to put back on which statue? I mean ... what if Michelangelo's David ended up with a penis much bigger than his original one? The weight alone would tip the statue forwards and break it, surely?

      Also, what kind of glue did they use to put the penises back? I broke a statue the other day and nothing can fix it. It did not have a penis.

      God bless.

    2. has to be said. From what I could tell it was one size fits all. They may have had to juggle a fig leaf or two. How they were reattached... I think I missed that part :)

    3. One size fits all ??? I think a lot of men would disagree with this judging from the competition amongst them about size !!!

      God bless.

  6. What Christine said … and Terri! Actually, I can't think of anything to underscore what's already been (intelligently) offered by your readers. Some people just need to get over themselves!

    PS - From what I can tell of her expression, the artist's wife appears to be totally bored by her companions' conversation. Perhaps a football game, indeed!

    1. We all seem to agree here, Mevely. Although I must admit, I am intrigued by what Jan (JFM) said.

      God bless.

  7. The nudity in and of itself doesn't bother me. The problem is whether the nudity is gratuitous. Does it contribute to the overall meaning in a way that not using nudity could not. Ask yourself, what if the person (usually it's a woman - and why is that?) wasn't nude, would it be any less of a work of art? The answer to that is most times no. The nudity did not have to be there.

    As to that Manet painting, I would argue that the nudity has to be there to express what the painter wanted. However, what's disturbing and why I can't support that work is the theme itself, that two fully clothed men can oogle a naked woman before them and all three feel comfortable. Yeah, that's disturbing to me.

  8. It's great to see you visiting here again, Manny. We have missed you. Where have you been?

    You raise two points.

    I seem to agree with your first one.

    However, I am not sure about the point you make regarding the Manet painting. We have established that the two men are not ogling the woman. They are not even looking at her. They are discussing yesterday's football game on TV.

    What I cannot understand is the need for her to be naked. And the fact that Manet used his wife, brother and brother-in-law as models for the painting. What did these people who knew each other well think/feel about posing for such a painting?

    God bless you.

    1. Yeah, the Manet painting is weird. They are not oogling but it just make me uncomfortable. It's still morally wrong.

      I've been so busy I just don't get onto the internet as much. I'll stop by when I get a chance. I haven't abandoned your blog.

    2. I certainly agree the painting is weird, Manny.

      Glad to hear that you are well, my friend. Your absence from Blogland had me worried.

      God bless.

  9. A reasonable question, reasonably discussed.

    I was a bit surprised by the art and, to a lesser extent, story of the 'Godiva' post.

    My emotional responses were varied, as they usually are, and - my opinion - not worth taking time to recall and analyze: even for my own use.

    In the context of the post's unifying topic, the art and anecdote made sense. I don't have a problem with either.

    I probably wouldn't have handled either the way you did - - - because you're not me, for which you should be grateful ;) - - - and because I have developed a policy of sorts for content I produce.

    My goals include communicating with folks who share my faith and some of my interests or some of my interests but not my faith.

    Based on experience, I'm pretty sure that both groups include folks whose notion of decency is far more 'conservative' than mine - and far more 'liberal:' in today's American social and political sense.

    I could assume that I'm right and everybody who doesn't have my preferences is wrong. But since I've *been* some of 'those people,' that doesn't make sense.

    So I dial back my 'decency' settings to avoid offending most of the old-school folks - but not so much that I make others wonder if I have more psychiatric issues than I actually do. And that's another topic.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Brian.

      I suppose there are basically a couple of questions I am trying to ask.

      The first is about nudity. When is it acceptable and when is it not? It seems to be acceptable to most people when in "art" (whatever that is). That is a painting, or a sculpture. Although, opinions seem to differ when it comes to photos and some people feel that, somehow, nudity is not acceptable. Not decent, (again, whatever that means).

      My second point is inspired by Godiva. It is said she did what she did out of charity. If someone offered a person, (usually a lady), a large sum of money to help pay medical fees for a sick person, (or other charitable cause), if she appeared nude. Would that be right or wrong? Is it acceptable? Is it decent? Is it charitable. Yet again, opinions differ on this.

      God bless.

    2. The 'Godiva question' involves intent.

      To have an informed opinion, I'd have to know a great deal more about the story, the culture that started it, and the facts of the case. Assuming that it's based on an actual event. Even then, I think 'it's complicated' might be a reasonable conclusion.

      The nudity question isn't much less complicated, but happens to involve part of the Catechism I'm modestly familiar with - - - 2520-2527, discussing purity. I'll get back to that, after a little harangue.

      Deciding what's "art" and what's indecent may have been easier in America back when 'banned in Boston' folks were imposing their (neo-Puritan/Calvinist?) values on the rest of us. That lot made folks who eventually gave us political correctness look reasonable and open-minded by contrast, and that's almost another topic.

      I'm not sure which extreme we're closer to at the moment. But on the whole I prefer living in an America where proper Old Bostonians no longer control most media and the 'tolerate everything we like' crowd promptly tarnished their 'freedom-loving' image.

      The decline of network television and old-school New York Times-dominated journalism helped a lot. Small wonder folks on both/all sides are bewailing my country's "fragmentation" and "polarization." I don't, but I've *never* lived in a country where the establishment agreed with me. Or vice-versa. I like the comparative freedom to express opinions without being labeled a communist sympathizer or bigot - - - and having the label accepted by more than a minority.

      Back to nudity, art and smut: in a way, I'm still stuck in the 1950s. But there's a thick Sixties overlay; and decades later what I've learned since becoming a Catholic.

      One aspect of purity that's arguably a hot button issue for many is modesty. I'm more Fifties than Sixties in that respect, but I'm also a Catholic. I try to *think* about what I believe, not just trust my feelings. Certainly not my personal preferences. Not for any serious matter.

      I'll close with a quote - Catechism, 2524. ( )

      "The forms taken by modesty vary from one culture to another. Everywhere, however, modesty exists as an intuition of the spiritual dignity proper to man. It is born with the awakening consciousness of being a subject. Teaching modesty to children and adolescents means awakening in them respect for the human person."

    3. I really appreciate your contributions Brian because they make me think. I sometimes wish other join the discussion too.

      I am a Catholic, but at times I am confused by Catholicism. I like the quote you put at the end; but then, a Lot of paintings in Catholic churches do portray nudity - e.g. cherubs. Did you know that in the Sistine Chapel there is a painting by Michelangelo showing God's backside?,_Moon_and_Vegetation

      Now I ask how did the Church accept this as art and not indecent, or insulting? Is it because of the painter, or the age of the painting?

      Both now, and in the past, it has been very difficult to differentiate between was is acceptable and what is not; what is decent and what is not.

      Some may frown at certain paintings, yet one can go to any beach anywhere and see a state of undress far worse and no one bats an eyelid.

      Like you, I don't know how true the Godiva story is. I doubt it matters. My question is/was: Is it appropriate/acceptable/decent to emulate her for the benefit of a great worthy cause?

      Would the Church turn down a great sum of money for a worthy cause if they knew it was the result of an act similar to Godiva's?

      God bless you, Brian. And thank you.



God bless you.