The Appropriateness of Art

What exactly is appropriate for the general public to see? The NY Times had an editorial today by a woman who took her children to MOMA and was shocked to find images of genitalia. She wanted a warning, larger than a tiny little plaque. I personally think that she missed the point. Explicit images are not necessarily obscene, and certainly in a museum, the context is important. Museums hold the creative thoughts of humankind. Those thoughts often roam outside the boundaries of everyday existence and so can often seem shocking. There have been times when I have felt physically light-headed while looking at paintings (Turner’s watercolors of Burning of the Houses of Parliament come to mind). Moral shock sneaks up on you sometimes too, like the painting by Courbet “L’origine du monde” in the Musee D’Orsay. The first time I saw it I was shocked, as it is a detailed view of a nude woman’s crotch. Here was a view that Playboy wouldn’t have published at some point. Then the realization of what it meant hit and I had to sit down, from both the revelation of my own ignorance and the artist’s vision.
So what does that mean? Are my figures appropriate? I don’t pretend to be anywhere near Turner or Courbet, but I would hope to make someone think about the world in a new light, and the is appropriate.

Latest Composite of the Sculpture at 24 Bond St

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~ by scultore on August 25, 2009.

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