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THE SEXUAL INSTINCT
 
 
 
 
 





THE NUDE AND THE VULGAR IN ART

 



The loveliness of the representations of perfect types of men and women is too grand a theme to be prudish about; and without question it is an advantage to a community if they can have erected in their midst a perfect type of figure whose beauty, whose strength, whose grace and dignity they can emulate.
No noble bronze or marble statue can have any improper suggestion in it for the pure, nor, if it come from the workshop of an artist who is free from vulgarity, can it afford any stimulus to the prurient.
The best examples of the statues of the ancient Greeks are certainly in no way offensive to modesty, and clothing would seem altogether out of place upon them; but when modern sensual realism attempts the same task the impression is usually conveyed that the statues are naked, and that they are designed by their suggestive postures to awaken sensual feelings.


True Art, when it has taken lofty and pure subjects for illustration, has indeed done much for civilization; so that we must grant to the painter and the sculptor, if their works show forth the purity of their hearts and minds, a position in the forefront of the world's benefactors.
True Art is in harmony with Nature, and must be true as far as it goes, for, as Fairholt says, "Truth is the highest quality in Art".
Nature and true Art cannot be at variance, for Art is merely a method of recording on canvas, or bronze, or stone the glories and the truths of Nature, so that even the quar 11 ries can be made by the hands of men to ennoble the ideals of humanity and to point our desires upward.


Would that in each community there could stand statues of a glorious type of unblemished manhood and of a glorious type of maternal womanhood, all models of their sex, with all the expression of nobleness in their countenances, and showing forth in every lineament the majesty of a spotless purity, and the ideal standards of fitness for the hallowed duties of parentage!


True Art is by far too noble to seek to amuse; but, on the other hand, much of the material that is labeled "art" is intensely vulgar, because it presents Nature in the aspect of a buffoon. None deplore this vulgarity so keenly as the true artists who are actuated by noble inspirations.
Society, however, is showing a taste and even a craving for the nude and the suggestive in art which has overstepped the bounds of decency.
Modern ingenuity has made it possible to reproduce by engravings and chromo-lithographs thousands of pictures at a minimum cost; and as a result lewd illustrations are distributed everywhere, in the papers and magazines, in cigarette boxes, on the fences as theatrical posters, and, in fact, wherever they are likely to catch the public attention.


The employment of female models who are required to pose in the nude is a custom of the artist which is undoubtedly productive of much harm. If a physician were to needlessly expose a patient he would be severely condemned as unprofessional; but surely Art cannot be on such a lofty pedestal as to require the sacrifice of the modesty and self respect of young girls who are reduced by necessity to offer up that part, at least, of their virtue.
If this practice is a necessity for the good of civilization, then it is proper to call it by its proper designation human vivisection. No right-minded parent would allow a daughter to pose in scanty attire before any man, however pure for it is well known that it is exceptional for these models to retain their virginity.
It is certain that this degrading class of work is responsible for the downfall of no inconsiderable number of young women, and that civilization is in no way advanced by suggestive pictures, however artistic.




© 2008