Re: More firings.

1

I took a nude figure drawing class in high school and look how I turned out--better to purge the corrupting influence from the school before the children meet a similar fate.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 9:30 AM
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I grow increasingly convinced that many of my fellow Americans need to be punched.


Posted by: Matt Weiner | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 9:33 AM
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Armsmasher, blogging in the face of adversity, has a good take on why this firing isn't necessarily nuts. A quick and dirty summary is (1) nude figure drawing classes aren't inherently non-sexual -- you have to teach new students to perceive them as non-sexual. It's important to handle them with a certain amount of impersonal formality; (2) this guy wasn't doing that -- he was setting up a class outside the purview of the school, and recruiting students directly, without school or parental involvement; (3) he had a history of some kind of inappropriate behavior with students.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 9:37 AM
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Whoops, I got (2) garbled. He wasn't setting up a class, just recommending that students take outside classes. Still, moderately inappropriate.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 9:39 AM
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Scratch the prior correction -- I had it right the first time.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 9:41 AM
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he was setting up a class outside the purview of the school, and recruiting students directly, without school or parental involvement

Mmm, maybe.

In addition to these established courses, Mr. Panse also indicated that he was considering the possibility of offering an intensive figure drawing program of his own (8 hours a day every Saturday for 35 weeks). This proposed course would also be open to area art teachers, and would have required that parents serve as chaperones to ensure a strong adult presence. Ultimately, Mr. Panse was unable to locate inexpensive space for a studio and was prevented from carrying out his plan because of the controversy that erupted over the proposal.

Panse told his students that if his own figure drawing class materialized, he would be obligated to submit any advertisement to the school principal for approval, and that a denial might preclude him from offering the course to his own students, for their consideration. The mere mention of the "possibility" of a "future" course, and discussions in the "theoretical" are what the school board regards as a fireable offense in this case.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 9:43 AM
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7

Oh, it does still seem like an overreaction -- just not a completely insane overreaction.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 9:44 AM
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There was a teacher at a Catholic school in my hometown who was fired because she worked as a model for a figure drawing class. The school said she was violating the employment clause that required the teachers to have good moral values.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 10:00 AM
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So was the guy going to pose nude himself, or force teenage girls to pose nude? It doesn't sound like it to me. Or is the school board treating this like he's offering a free "porn class" in his basement on Friday nights?

I am opposed to the school board's decision, based on the information I have at hand.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 2:34 PM
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#7: seems pretty much insane to me. Further reading suggests your point (2) is incorrect, in that he was attempting to do exactly that (c.f #6) and as for your (3), it seems a bit opaque but the document in question doesn't actually determine such a history, just an allegation.

At *most* I could see it being appropriate for someone from the admin or board to sit down and talk with him about what the course was about, and how it would be run, if this was to address a students concern. Suspending him is just batty (based on available info).


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 2:52 PM
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11

Nakedness is wrong, people.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 2:56 PM
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12

If being naked is wrong, I don't wanna wear pants.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 3:02 PM
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#11: oh, right, seems I'd forgotten that for a moment. Thanks for setting me straight, bitchphd.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 3:03 PM
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14

Come on, B, that's not what's happening here.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 3:15 PM
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#14 Armsmasher: perhaps. It does look like the guy is being railroaded. Are you sure that isn't (part of) the reason why?


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 3:24 PM
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Maybe, maybe. But Coach doesn't avoid the official avenues for setting up a new weekend sports practice class. It seems that Art Teacher did for a class that happens to involve nudity, about which we're all comfortable and progressive (except for potentially some of the students who are being courted and their parents). I'm a School Board Member whose job it is to look out for red flags, and I'm not supposed to see one here?


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 3:29 PM
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Particularly someone who, whether justly or unjustly, had been warned not to behave in a sexually inappropriate manner with his students on the basis of past behavior. (He may not have done anything wrong in the prior incident; regardless, he knew that his employers believed he had.)

This doesn't mean that there was a thing wrong with the class, or that he had any bad intent at all, but I can completely sympathize with the school board's seeing a red flag.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 3:35 PM
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Armsmasher, I admit that it's possible that that's how it went down, I just don't see much evidence for it in the public record. If Panse was told, "Don't recruit for your class," that's fine. If there's some concern about his marketing to his students, that's fine. But he says he wasn't, and the news reports make it sound like the suggestions that the students take a figure drawing class are getting put under the rubric of inappropriately sexual remarks. Which is bullshit, unless he was saying something like "You kids ought to take a class where you draw nekkid people, hyeurgh hyeurgh leer."

(On preview: LB, I'm just not seeing it. There has to be something more specific to the "sexually inappropriate" charge. From at least the ArtRenewal account, the classes he was thinking of setting up weren't exclusively for students, and were going to have chaperones.)

Maybe he did something wrong, but the school board hasn't presented much of a case for it as far as I can see.


Posted by: Matt Weiner | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 3:40 PM
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I'm with Matt on this. LB/armsmasher: it is *possible* that something dodgy was going on, but the evidence isn't there (so far).

LB: I too can sympatize with the board wondering what was up, but not with the suspension. After all, *nothing* had actually happened with this class. So investigate, and if you find that somethin inappropriate was being suggested, fire him by all means. Suspending the class and messing up the school year for students over this seems completely whacked to me, though.

Armsmasher: As far as I can read it, he *didn't* avoid official channels. which is part of the point.

As in anything like this, new information could radically change my view, but from what I can see here they are way, way out of line. Give what I've read about the case, the most plausible scenario seems to me that someone either didn't like the teacher, didn't like the idea of such a class, or both, and is trying to hang him out to dry. Of course, I could be wrong, but it seems the most plausible scenario the way things are being presented.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 3:51 PM
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18: While I'm not entirely clear from the articles, the impression I have is that at the time he got in trouble, the teacher hadn't talked to anyone but students about it. He had told the students that he was going to clear it with the administration, and there were going to be chaperones, etc., but I don't think any of that had happened yet (and one of the articles mentions that one allegation is that he lied to the students, telling them that he'd already spoken to the school administration when he hadn't.)

Now, this still doesn't make me think that the teacher was, in fact, doing anything wrong -- he probably was going to go ahead and involve the school, just as he said he was going to. But the school board is in a different position when they're reacting to a student saying "Mr. Smith is setting up an off-campus class on drawing from the nude," and this is the first they've heard of it, than if Mr. Smith comes to them and says "I'd like to set this class up." (I could be wrong about how I'm reading the articles -- they aren't all that clear.) I can see considering the first situation, which seems to be the one the board was faced with, a problem.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 3:53 PM
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There were two disciplinary hearings: one regarding his attempts to solicit students for a class conducted outside the purview of the classroom, and one regarding the "sexually inappropriate comments" charge outlined in his previous reprimand.

As for the parental chaperones, that's the sort of thing you want to introduce to dubious parents and administratorsóbut it ultimately comes after the fact as a defense of a proposal he's submitted to only students.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 3:54 PM
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LB: Well I certainly agree that if anything is clear, it is that the information isn't that clear! I suppose can see it either way, but even in the first case I would lean toward questioning starting things off with a suspension (and unavoidable disruption for the students) based on a hypothetical class....


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 3:59 PM
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From another, separate argument I'm having about this case comes this copy of the school board's complaint. The first charge is that Panse A) solicited students for a for-profit figure study course and B) misrepresented to an administrator his having cleared the class with the department head. (I emphasize "for profit" because I imagine that this is what flags the solicitation.)

The second charge he failed to "avoid making any comments that students could construe as being of a personal or sexual nature . . . or using your position as a teacher to put students into any situation reasonably likely to make them feel uncomfortable because of the injection of sexuality into . . . the substance of your comments."

On that count I'm of two minds. One, it's bullshit, we're talking about the nude figure in art, etc. Two, then there shouldn't be any reason to not play this by the books, and why didn't he, and why am I hearing about this class from little Joe and not on school letterhead?


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 4:04 PM
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See, I have no problem with charge I, insofar as it comes under the heading "Don't market to your students." We hates the capitalism! But complaint two still looks like a bit of a non sequitur, pending more information about what happened. Did he inject any sexuality into the substance of his comments, or did he simply encourage his students to take his class? The complaint seems to suggest that encouraging the students to take the class is in itself injecting sexuality into the discussion.


Posted by: Matt Weiner | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 4:10 PM
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I think 24 is slightly oversophisticated. We're talking about high school kids, and nude models. I absolutely stipulate that there is nothing inherently sexual or inappropriate about a class on drawing from the nude, even for high school students. Pense was warned, however, not to say anything that students "could construe" as being sexual, or to put students in a position where they were made uncomfortable by a sexual element. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect Pense to have been aware that teenagers might construe a plan to assemble outside of school control for the purpose of drawing from the nude as having a sexual element.

I'm absolutely not saying there is anything inherently skeevy about such a class or that there was in this case -- just that the combination of teenagers and nudity should have put him on notice that this was something to be done through official channels, rather than informally.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 4:17 PM
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ARC one of my home pages! Death to abstraction! Picasso is the debbil!

On the general topic of nude figure drawing, like those lucious not-anorexic Bouguereau babes and slave girls getting examined....where was I...presuming the possibility of speedos and thongs showing much thigh and abdomen, what is the proper age at which an adequate art education requires the skill of depicting cocks and nipples? Just asking.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 4:18 PM
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Charge 1 is reasonable and suggests to me that the guy might be not exactly beloved by other people in the school. I'm starting to get a slight whiff of cult of personality around this teacher. That said, if there isn't a reasonable record of rules-evading before this incident, a suspension rather than a stern talking-to and an official reprimand sounds too harsh.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 4:24 PM
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26--I did figure drawing from models in HS as an elective. They all wore underwear or leotards. I just can't see nude figure drawing as being a reasonable class for a high school that wasn't specifically an arts academy to offer. If a teen is up for taking a nude figure drawing class, he or she should take private lessons somewhere.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 4:29 PM
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#14: I'm just being an asshole. As usual.

But nakedness really is wrong. No one should ever be naked, especially not children or animals. After all, nakedness = teh sexx, and clearly children and animals are not appropriate sexual partners, so there's no reason for them ever to be naked.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 4:34 PM
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This is why my dog wears a burkha at all times.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 4:35 PM
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31

Probably the school just goes in for a more progressive arts education.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 4:39 PM
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26: Freshman year, college. Life drawing is usually one of the foundation courses for a fine arts major. I went to a magnet high school with a concentration in art, and although there was a figure drawing class, the models, who were student volunteers, were fully clothed. Students who wanted to draw nude models were able to take classes at the local art school, where the models were generally middle-aged madly talkative fat ladies.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 4:40 PM
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If you like, I can try to work up a head of steam over the fact that "the nude in art" is usually a woman, but I should warn you that I'm extremely tired.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 4:41 PM
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34

You could just cite the Guerrilla Girls, B.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 4:42 PM
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35

But contemplation of a nude is disinterested, so there's no exploitation.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 4:44 PM
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#34: Thanks for saving me the trouble.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 4:54 PM
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he or she should take private lessons somewhere.

He was proposing a private class, as I understand it.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 4:55 PM
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Apo, in 26 I was talking generally about what kind of figure drawing classes a school should offer. What sounds kind of skeevy about this teacher is that he spent a lot of time talking up the importance of nude figure drawing, which is fine in itself, but then suggesting that students should pay for his private classes, which sounds kinda dubious.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 5:08 PM
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The first thing to do is read:

The Nude:

A Study in Ideal Form

Kenneth Clark

Princeton University Press

This is the classic text on the subject in Art. We live in a society that is afraid of it's own shadow.


Posted by: Charles | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 5:38 PM
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Bitch's comment on the female form arouses a question in my mind: is it accurate (as it seems to be at first glance) to say that the male form is more usually depicted in sculpture and the female form is more usually depicted in painting? If true, is there some reason for this?


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 6:07 PM
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there's vast quantities of sculptures of nude women.


Posted by: mmf! | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 6:18 PM
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The male form is more often depicted in sculpture than in other genres, but I don't know that there more sculptures of male than of female figures. I'd attribute it to the greater status of sculpture in state buildings and ceremony, which historically has necessitated depictions of men. For other nonhistorical purposes (allegorical or expressive or what have you) artists have preferred the female figure.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 6:19 PM
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Also, if you expand your notion of painting to include examples outside portraiture (e.g., Byzantine art), depicted men vastly outnumber women.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 6:23 PM
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I'll speculate wildly on that one. I'm guessing that the disproportionate quantity of nude woman painting production would really take off in the neo-Classical French school, which continued to provide a centralized ideal to mock, subvert, send-up until WWII. That movement skews total results. As for why that movement liked painting nekked ladeez (and dramatically costumed men), I'm going to blame Rousseau. Provisionally.

I don't really know as much about sculpture.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 6:27 PM
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Um, cross-posted with the commenter who actually knows something about this. [Slinks off.]


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 6:28 PM
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To "nuance" it more, it seems that the quintessential depiction of the male form is in sculpture, while for the female form, it's a painting (or many paintings -- there doesn't seem to be a single privileged painting of a nude woman, to parallel Michaelangelo's David). It seems that Armsmasher's historical facts and knowledge could account for that, too -- it'd be more fun if there was some kind of "inner necessity" to it, though.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 6:32 PM
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Worth a shot! The ideal male a more muscular one than the (pre-modern) ideal female figure, thus presenting a more varied, demanding template for sculptors.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 6:49 PM
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It's getting harder and harder to believe that you and MY are just roommates, 'Smasher.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 6:50 PM
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49

We are also ideal male figures.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 6:51 PM
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50

Which one of you is the sculpture and which one the painting?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 6:56 PM
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51

That's what makes it so hard to believe.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 6:57 PM
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Apo, you fucker. 51 to 49.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 6:58 PM
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43 After reading bitchphd's comment, I gave it some thought, and I would guess disproportionate female nudity is a post-Renaissance phenomenon.

Counting the bare male chest as nudity. Counting all the Jesuses, both naked baby and dude on stick, I would say Renaissance art and before showed more male skin than female. Thinking Memling and Weyden etc. Could be wrong, I would have to count, and Michelangelo and Caravaggio throw the score way off.

A prominent blogger who shall be unnamed enraged me once when he said that Chasserieau's "Esther..." was the first and few 19th century nudes that would be attractive in modern terms. Another claimed that Goya painted the first natural nude, forgetting a few Rembrandts.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 7:02 PM
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Yes, but naked Jesus is depicted as a religious figure, rather than an aesthetic object. I'm thinking that portrayals of nude men as aesthetic objects, just off the top of my pointy head, are pretty much confined to Greco-Roman art, some Renaissance art, and then a big sweep until we get to the moderns.

Portraits don't count, b/c by definition they're pretty much meant to depict individuals, rather than some kind of idealized form.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 7:31 PM
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Also I love the way one can throw in an asshole off-the-cuff comment and then have people turn to discussing it semi-seriously. Yay Unfogged!


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 7:32 PM
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We should start by counting all the artsy nudes in the world, sorted according to gender, and then propose a program to produce enough of the minority nudes to brings the stats to near-equality.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 7:41 PM
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I know a way to make prints, which is fast and affordable.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 7:46 PM
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But depicting humans solely as aesthetic objects is tied up in (Western) Romantic terminology, isn't it?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 7:56 PM
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Depicting humans tied up as an aesthetic objects is more Ste/ven den Bes/te's department, I think.


Posted by: Matt Weiner | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 8:00 PM
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I thought that I had objected to this:

naked Jesus is depicted as a religious figure, rather than an aesthetic object

but I guess I navigated away before it posted. Anyway, surely naked Jesus is (at least after a certain point) depicted as an aesthetic object as well. If you substituted "sexual" for "aesthetic" I might buy it.


Posted by: Matt Weiner | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 8:02 PM
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Hmm. I'm not sure how much wonking is appropriate right now, considering that 1) I'm still at work and really should finish this project and 2) Matt's objection opens so many problems. But by the very late Byzantine/early Renaissance period I don't think it was useful any longer to distinguish between religious and aesthetic depictions of Jesus. Cimabue's Santa Croce Crucifix and Massachio's Trinity are in my opinion two bookends of a turbulent period in which artists revised the purpose of the religious painting to suit aesthetic ends. IMHO.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 8:23 PM
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"Masaccio"


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 8:24 PM
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"Thread killer"


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 8:33 PM
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If you substitute "sexual" for "aesthetic," I would object. I'm no art historian, but there are way too many cryptohomoerotic religious works to be able to claim these types of images have a religious "rather than" a sexual nature. Add in "purely" before sexual, I might buy it.


Posted by: Phutatorius' Chestnut | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 8:34 PM
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pietas are hott.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 8:35 PM
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60, 61, 64: Yeah, of course. I'm being sloppy. But you get the point; the "purely" before sexual works. And I really would go so far as to say that what we might now call "sexual" would be better described, historically, as embodiedness or sensual or some such term.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 8:40 PM
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text, around here we refer to a woman's hoo-ha by the proper clinical term.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 8:45 PM
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Reach out and touch paint

Your own Personal Jesus


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 8:47 PM
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sorry. tulips are hott.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 8:50 PM
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If you want hott religious iconography, google images of the Guadaloupe.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 8:57 PM
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The Guadaloupe is a pale reflection of the Danielguap.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 8:59 PM
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the danielguap is himself a pale reflection of he who shall not be named. He is pale because all the blood is needed to fuel his serpent monster.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 9:32 PM
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we refer to a woman's hoo-ha by the proper clinical term.

Yes we do.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 9:56 PM
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It seems like just about every art museum in Europe with Renaissance paintings has at least one picture of Saint Sebastian being penetrated, usually while nude or damn close to it.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 11:16 PM
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That's funny, google's safesearch setting filters out some Renaissance paintings.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 9-06 11:53 PM
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When I was a teenager, I used to jerk off to Renaissance paintings. It was all I could get my hands on.

My first trip to an art museum was pretty embarrassing.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03-10-06 9:18 AM
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kotsko, that's great.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 03-10-06 2:55 PM
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Awesome. And they say that the Old Masters don't register with the kids these days.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 03-11-06 5:08 PM
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