One of the things I have always done with my children is to take them to lots of art galleries and museums and look at pictures and objects. I do this without any prejudice and let them draw from their own experiences what or how they interpret what they are seeing. I haven’t even given a second thought if they find themselves in front of a nude study, whether photography, paint or pen. Its all part of life’s rich tapestry right? In fact, i’d say that I was probably more happy with them scrutinising nudes in the Titians at the National Gallery than some of the more graphic depictions of Jesus on the cross or in paintings such as the Death of Marat which I think are much more challenging for young minds to understand.
As a result I found it very amusing to read this article which basically talks about a mother who was very disturbed when she went along to a museum to find an exhibition of scrimshaw depicting naked ladies. She feels that its porn and shouldn’t be on display. As a museum curator I’d argue that its a brilliant thing to put on display and something which not only is an unusual art form, but also that its very typical of its time and as such, has a lot to offer if properly interpreted. Maritime art is often overlooked and yet is so important culturally.
This got me thinking though, where should you draw the line? I quite happily take my kids along to the National Portrait Gallery. I’m sure they have probably seen images which are tantamount to porn there. Is this more acceptable than in the home setting? What makes it more acceptable? My husband doesn’t buy lads magazines or even ones like SFX anymore (or at least bring them home) purely because of the cover images which he feels inappropriate. I don’t really have any problem though as I don’t think the kids would really even notice. However, when I flick through some of my women’s magazines there are often what might be classed as pornographic images used in advertising. I’ll happily sit and chat about the contents of these magazines with my daughter, she likes choosing shoes for when she is older. She doesn’t notice much else, such a girl! That’s the thing, I don’t think children interpret these images in the same way that adults do.
At the end of the day, I personally don’t have a problem with depictions of the naked body in art. It’s not something that has ever crossed my mind as being akin to porn actually (call me naive). It did make me laugh to read how the National Gallery was blighted with dirty old men last summer Even then I think that perhaps that is the real worry about some of these exhibitions and displays; the potential for paedos and weirdos visiting rather than the art itself.
I’d love to know what you think about this.