Sunday, September 24, 2006
This modesty thing...
It's taking on a life of it's own!
My post on Warhol, with the picture from "The Factory" drew a few comments - via email. Some people were concerned about the nudity. One of the characters has a breast exposed. As an artist - an old one now - I don't eroticize or objectify the human body. I'll admit for a time I avoided life studies in my youth because I had - I was late teens, early twenties. I had to get over it - impure thoughts emanate from the heart. To be sure, pornography, along with our adolescent, obsessive-compulsive sexualized culture influences that, while at the same time ensnares the passions. Pornography, soft or hard core, has destroyed our sensibilities. My recent posts and the emails I received have raised the question however, why is the female breast eroticized? Are men's pecs eroticized? I just don't get it.
Throughout the history of art the human body has been celebrated for it's beauty. We have lovely images of the Madonna nursing the Infant Jesus. This one attributed to Da Vinci is particularly tender, chaste, and lovely...yet they all are. I do not even object to a mother nursing in public - it is so not a sexual act. To think so is diabolical, anti-woman, anti-child, -anti-life. Being a prude is not a virtue.
A man who works in our warehouse once shielded his eyes from a metal bas-relief of a similar image of the Madonna. I don't get it. I have had customers complain of an antique retablo of the Virgin of the Milk we have for sale - a classic Ecuadorian image of devotion. Another person complained of an image we sold of a detail of the Sistine Chapel of one of the allegorical figures nursing a child.
It has got to be the exaggerated American fixation on the breasts of women, the larger the better. There are even restaurants named after them. Radio talk shows, shock jocks, continually talk about them. It is totally absurd. It's offensive to women. While some women go in for breast enhancement surgery, falling for the vain joy men are attracted to. Regardless of the morality involved, it is just dumb, teenage, adolescent - stupid. Ah! Dorky! (Now the word fits!)
It is such a strange culture we live in. I don't think I'll know where to look anymore when speaking to women, especially those who wear printed t-shirts or medals hanging over their breasts, or low cut dresses. C'mon guys - grow up - she ain't yo' mama!
Granted, the woman in the Factory photo is not nursing,
however the image remains innocuous - it is emblematic of the decadence, albeit adolescent, of the Warhol milieu. As it stands, it is art - not pornography, no more than Caravaggio's painting of the Madonna of the Rosary with an old man sucking the breast of a maid - shown here. (Oh! Maybe this breast thing isn't just a 20th century American male thing?)
It's just a breast. Learn to think of it as a feeding tube if it's so troubling. This extraordinary self consciousness of women about their breasts, influenced, in part by men's lust, keeps many back from even inspecting them for breast cancer or going for mammograms, things that could save their lives. Guys, get over the obsession.