Parent Advisory on Nudity in Art

Most classically trained artists sometimes depicted human form without clothing. If this is a concern, please preview the individual works on the sites linked from your This Week in History content before sharing them with your kids/students. This can be a good opportunity to discuss the differences between cultural and artistic norms of modesty, where the lines start to blur toward pornography, your religious and personal standards of dress, entertainment, expression, etc.

One mom wrote the following about this subject:

A couple of years ago I noticed that K— suddenly seemed to become interested in our Art books (collections of classic paintings, etc.)  I rather quickly clued in that he was discovering the nudes and was fascinated with them.  He was about 11 then, and how I handled it was to talk with him about the time of the Renaissance, how they were re-discovering all of nature and the goodness of creation, and were celebrating the beauty of the human form.  I talked with him about how it’s natural and understandable to wonder what people look like naked, etc.  Used the opportunity to talk about differences among people and also to talk more about puberty.   I also used the discussion to talk about the difference between nudity in classical painting and pornography; how I approached it was that the paintings usually showed the beauty and the wonder of the human body, while pornography uses pictures to manipulate sexual feelings in ways that are not respectful or appropriate, that pornography uses both the person pictured and the person looking, and how easy it is to get sucked in, etc.  I know that that was a rather young age to talk about some of these things for some families, but it was good for us to do that then — he was young enough not to get all embarassed, but old enough to have learned that there is such a thing as pornography (unfortunately . . . ), and wondered what it was.  Finally, we keep the art books in our main living area where if he pulls them down I’m usually there to start a conversation about the artists or the time period.

Another mom shared this:

One thing my older boys taught me from their travels in Europe, visiting multiple art museums, is that nakedness in art is sometimes meant to symbolize our condition before God. We cannot hide our true selves, and therefore clothing was of no avail. 🙂

You don’t have to take this on if you don’t share the few links with nudes. But if you do, you may find it a valuable and timely conversation that invites openness on subjects of extreme importance to our families and youth.