SweetTart

Nudity Not Being Sexual (Artist's Musings)

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SweetTart

In truth I don't know where to put this, since it's kind of about sexual attraction but also about art?

 

I took an art class with live models my last spring semester, and I remember being kind of anxious. I'd never seen anyone naked irl before, and I expected to be pretty embarrassed and awkward as I'm a person who gets flustered quite easily, but in reality I barely felt anything.

 

We only had male models, and even though I'm pretty sure I'm attracted to males I didn't feel weird about it. A lot of my friends and family seemed confused about my reaction and didn't see how I could be so nonchalant about it, but I don't think it's strange? I found that I really enjoy drawing people, and I find the human form and different body types fascinating.

I don't see the human form as sexual, and I've tried to explain that when I talk about my art; I assumed that a lot of artist feel the same way.

 

Thinking about my own sexuality, and learning more about asexuality in general, I wonder if it could have something to do with my orientation as well? Or perhaps it's just my personality and views and has nothing to do with orientation.

 

Are there any fellow artists/people out there who can relate?

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DayDreamer~

When it's in a setting like that- heck, even if I were to see someone walking down the street naked- I don't think the naked form is inherently sexual. Maybe for some people it is, but maybe as an Ace it makes a difference.

 

However, I do know that specifically in an artistic setting, many artists feel the same way. My cousin is in college for fashion design and isn't asexual, but she has to draw models all the time and it's just quiet because everyone is trying to focus pretty hard. Lots of people who don't take those kinds of classes might joke about it, but in reality, it's nothing unusual or scandalous, just a lot of trying to get shading done correctly. =P

 

Reminds me of this:

 

Spoiler

a6f05c8257d8e6cf76c77e3219f88146.jpg

 

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MichaelTannock

@SweetTart I'm an artist who's Asexual, but I haven't been in that setting where I had to draw the naked human form from life.
Nevertheless, I think there's a different mindset when drawing someone.
It reminds me of a story I read (this is a long time ago, so I won't be able to find it again) where a student had gotten in trouble because another student had reported them making porn in class.
What at actually happened is that they had an art assignment, and needed to draw a naked form before drawing clothing over it.

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Goonie

I think there are some contexts and areas of work where nudity isn't viewed as sexual.

 

I was never turned on by any of the models when I took a human drawing class. Honestly I was a little ooged out by some of them, but viewed it more as lines. Like it wasn't any different than other still lifes if that makes sense.

 

I'm really hoping my gynocologist doesn't get turned on by her job. 

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Wild Seven

I think this is really strongly about the culture you are from and in, and the professional culture of any given job you are doing. 

 

Bodies are just bodies, the whole way of treating people differently is greatly where you are and why. I would not overthink it. Nothing inherently sexual in most of the things but sex itself imho :p How are interactions codified is a different matter.

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Philip027

I've never bought the argument of this kind of art not being sexual.

 

These art classes focus so much on this naked body art because they know it's a kind of art that will sell.  No points awarded for guessing why people are interested in this kind of art.

 

Beyond the fact that your nonchalantness may very well be an indication of your asexuality, it doesn't really matter if it isn't "sexual" to the artist.  It doesn't make the art non-sexual.  Every person who makes this kind of art knows damn well that by doing so, they are attempting to pander to the sexual tastes of their audience.  Ergo, it's sexual.

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SweetTart
2 hours ago, Philip027 said:

I've never bought the argument of this kind of art not being sexual.

 

These art classes focus so much on this naked body art because they know it's a kind of art that will sell.  No points awarded for guessing why people are interested in this kind of art.

 

Beyond the fact that your nonchalantness may very well be an indication of your asexuality, it doesn't really matter if it isn't "sexual" to the artist.  It doesn't make the art non-sexual.  Every person who makes this kind of art knows damn well that by doing so, they are attempting to pander to the sexual tastes of their audience.  Ergo, it's sexual.

I can certainly see where you're coming from, but I could also point out that a lot of nude drawings don't show any inherently sexual body parts (i.e. genitalia, breasts). Many of my own pieces were from the model's back.

 

I can see how it could be sexual, and I'm sure some people do look at nude art and view it sexually, but I can also see how someone could simply appreciate the form, composition, and everything else that goes into making a piece.

 

I do believe learning to draw the human form is crucial though, if you want to go into art that involves people. If you wanted to learn how to draw dogs then you wouldn't only draw dogs in sweaters, because you wouldn't truly understand it's body structure and anatomy if you did so.

Personally I'm majoring in animation, and I will need to understand how a body moves. The anatomy, muscles, joints, where there's more fat or where the bones are closer to skin, etc. 

 

Just because you draw the naked form doesn't mean you actually have to show anyone or sell those pieces. A lot of art is made to practice and learn. And even if they did sell their pieces I see nothing wrong with that (with the model's permission of course), they're proud of their work and want to share it with others.

Making a certain type of art does not mean you're pandering to anyone.

Yes artists can pander to certain audiences, but that doesn't necessarily mean an entire genre/category of art does so.

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Raire

Nudity is not inherently sexual, but the definition for those observing can vary. 

 

Seeing someone in a state of undress doesn't weird me out (whether that be in person or in artwork etc.) unless they are doing something undeniably 'lewd' or intimate - and in that situation I would simply remove myself from the equation, rather than protest or whatever. 

 

Back in college I was briefly a life-model for an art class, and it didn't feel awkward - just very boring (and cold!). 

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Deus Ex Infinity
12 hours ago, SweetTart said:

In truth I don't know where to put this, since it's kind of about sexual attraction but also about art?

 

I took an art class with live models my last spring semester, and I remember being kind of anxious. I'd never seen anyone naked irl before, and I expected to be pretty embarrassed and awkward as I'm a person who gets flustered quite easily, but in reality I barely felt anything.

 

We only had male models, and even though I'm pretty sure I'm attracted to males I didn't feel weird about it. A lot of my friends and family seemed confused about my reaction and didn't see how I could be so nonchalant about it, but I don't think it's strange? I found that I really enjoy drawing people, and I find the human form and different body types fascinating.

I don't see the human form as sexual, and I've tried to explain that when I talk about my art; I assumed that a lot of artist feel the same way.

 

Thinking about my own sexuality, and learning more about asexuality in general, I wonder if it could have something to do with my orientation as well? Or perhaps it's just my personality and views and has nothing to do with orientation.

 

Are there any fellow artists/people out there who can relate?

Well, I'd usually get pretty nervous, embarrassed and uncomfortable when being confronted with nudity but it's not because of sexual arousal or anything. I just don't like to look at naked bodies in genral, even less if I don't know the people. It's a very intimate act, although you would look at the body as a natural shape and object rather than a sexual temptation at this very moment. I usually use professional photographs as reference to improve my artistic skills in the field.

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Wild Seven
3 hours ago, Raire said:

unless they are doing something undeniably 'lewd' or intimate

 

You see, but what is undeniably intimate also depends on a whole bunch of factors. Someone in a relationship with someone else putting a finger on their lips can be very intimate and very sexual, but that does not mean one would expect their dentist doing the same to be sexual.... so is the act itself undeniably intimate? It is not. It is contextual, and just a gesture on its own.

 

Intimacy is a feeling of proximity and the relation and all, and not just the physical acts. 

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Wild Seven
9 hours ago, Philip027 said:

Every person who makes this kind of art knows damn well that by doing so, they are attempting to pander to the sexual tastes of their audience. 

I will be sure to tell Boticelli to shove his Venus as incredibly sexual a painting then...


Although I would probably have to argue with a lot of art critics that it is just a painting and not that arousing first, hmmmmh. :)

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Alejandrogynous

I'm an artist who has taken numerous life drawing classes, and modeled for even more of them myself. I can assure you, there's nothing sexual about it. Any comments or jokes (which are rare in my experience) are from people who are new and nervous, which doesn't last long once art brain sets in, or people who are there for the wrong reasons and they usually leave once they realize how not sexy it is. 

 

14 hours ago, DayDreamer~ said:

 

  Reveal hidden contents

a6f05c8257d8e6cf76c77e3219f88146.jpg

 

This is so accurate too. :lol:

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Alejandrogynous

Also, just because the model is naked, it doesn't mean they're going to be young and attractive. People of all ages can model, all body types, etc. Which is usually what the artists want. They're there to draw people, not porn. A lot of experienced artists will even complain about classes/sessions that only hire young pretty female models with no variation.

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InariYana

Nudity is not always sexual. There are nudist clubs with older people being a majority there, who just meet up for table tennis or swimming or gardening in the nude and you can't see guys wandering around with giant boners ;) It's just really nice to feel the sun and wind all over your body, or swim naked, and some people do it in a social setting. 

Also, older bodies are way more interesting to draw, because it's more of a challenge - all the skin folds, freckles, shadows, scars, bones outlines being visible under the skin. Nothing sexy about it and it shows so much skill if you can draw them well. 

Drawing bodies is not just about making them look sexy because sex sells. Artists study muscles, bone structures, try to capture various angles, it's not about boobs, penises and spreading legs :D although yes, you get porn artists who specialize in painting porn or explicit erotica. That's not the majority though!    

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Zosia
On 6/23/2018 at 10:23 PM, Philip027 said:

I've never bought the argument of this kind of art not being sexual.

Life drawing classes are never sexual—they’re not intended to be, ever. They’re intended to help artists learn how to draw anatomy. Heck, sometimes the models aren’t always fully nude—sometimes they’re in bathing suits, sometimes they’re draped with fabric, sometimes they’re fully clothed. I’ve had classes that displayed all of these situations (oftentimes, the models were the students themselves—we’d rotate who was modeling, people didn’t have to do anything they didn’t want to do, it wasn’t for a grade, sometimes we’d have one or two regular models, and the classroom environment was generally pretty studious as we were all working and not ogling). I’ve done (clothed) modeling, but I know other people who’ve been very comfortable doing fully nude modeling and it was never sexual for them or the artists drawing them.

 

The sketches made in these classes are never usually finished pieces—they’re rough figure drawings that help the artists in the class learn how to draw musculature, different kinds of poses, and movement in the form (for example, in gesture drawings). The model is usually timed and changes their pose in anywhere from five minutes to thirty, depending on what the class is attempting to learn (shorter times are usually to learn how to do quick gesture drawings to display movement, longer times are to help learn how to draw the form in more detail and get it proportional).

 

Someone might ask, “Well, if they’re trying to learn how to draw anatomy, why can’t these artists just take an anatomy class where they can see illustrations of many layers of musculature and draw from them instead of from a live, nude model?” (Aside from the fact that drawing from a 2D photo or illustration is entirely different than drawing from a 3D model) the answer is, many artists do take anatomy classes (in addition to life drawing classes) to learn how muscles and bones interconnect, move, and look under the skin. Heck, there were Renaissance artists who would break the law to study corpses—go back and look at Leonardo da Vinci’s sketchbooks and the meticulous and beautiful drawings he made to study the human body. The sketches he made were not sexual, he was not pandering to a sex-hungry audience, he was *learning*. And that’s what these life drawing classes are attempting to accomplish and instill in their students—knowledge about anatomy. This knowledge helps artists when they are trying to make finished pieces of work because you’re better able to draw clothed figures when you know how the form underneath moves and looks.

 

On 6/23/2018 at 10:23 PM, Philip027 said:

These art classes focus so much on this naked body art because they know it's a kind of art that will sell.  No points awarded for guessing why people are interested in this kind of art.

No, the work made in these classes most definitely does not sell. It’s not intended to, that’s not its purpose. See my comment above. Even fully finished, painstakingly rendered nude paintings or drawings don’t sell, at least not to the extent you seem to think that they do and for the purpose you seem to imply. Landscapes sell. Still lifes sell. Flower paintings sell. People want pretty trinkets they can hang in their house, they don’t want naked figures hanging above their fireplace or kitchen table.

 

You know, plenty of people are capable of appreciating the human figure without it automatically becoming a sexual thing for them. And this goes for people regardless of orientation. I get that many people can’t see it as being anything other than sexual—I work in an art museum and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten angry complaints from people regarding the nude art we have on display (complaints that it’s extremely inappropriate, that the state should cut our funding, that it should be defaced, that it shouldn’t be shown at all, that it should be covered with a sheet, that it should be moved to a secluded gallery with doors and a sign that says what’s inside so adults can go in privately to view it—like, what in the world?). And the nude art we have isn’t explicitly sexual, as in, the figures aren’t posing in sexually provocative ways (and so what if they were?). An image of a human body is not inherently sexual.

 

On 6/23/2018 at 10:23 PM, Philip027 said:

Beyond the fact that your nonchalantness may very well be an indication of your asexuality, it doesn't really matter if it isn't "sexual" to the artist.  It doesn't make the art non-sexual.  Every person who makes this kind of art knows damn well that by doing so, they are attempting to pander to the sexual tastes of their audience.  Ergo, it's sexual.

No, not “every person who makes this kind of art knows damn well that by doing so, they are attempting to pander to the sexual tastes of their audience.” There is nude art that is not intended to be seen as sexual. Conversely, there’s nude art that is most definitely intended to convey a sexual message. And again, not everyone who walks into a gallery and sees a nude painting is going to view it in a sexual way, so it can’t always be defined as inherently sexual.

 

There is no intention to pander to sexual desires in these life drawing classes or with what is produced therein, period.

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Philip027

Not buying it, sorry.

 

Honestly everything you are saying comes across as a rather naive (shall we say, asexual) way of looking at things.

 

The vast majority of people aren't asexual.

 

If you can't even see how this sort of thing is definitely pandering to the audience, I don't think we'll ever see eye to eye on this subject.

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Alejandrogynous
2 hours ago, Philip027 said:

Not buying it, sorry.

 

Honestly everything you are saying comes across as a rather naive (shall we say, asexual) way of looking at things.

 

The vast majority of people aren't asexual.

 

If you can't even see how this sort of thing is definitely pandering to the audience, I don't think we'll ever see eye to eye on this subject.

And AVEN says it's the sexuals who make everything about sex, lol. 

 

Art can be sexual, but it doesn't have to be. Nudity can be sexual but it doesn't have to be. This is not an 'asexual' point of view, and if anything's coming off as naive here, it's the assumption that most humans on this planet are incapable of seeing the naked form as anything but sexual. It's just not true.

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Philip027

I never said incapable.  But you bet your ass that the majority of people presented with a naked (hopefully adult) form are going to view it in a sexual way.  That's just the way most humans are wired, and artists and people teaching this kind of artistry damn well know it.  Trying to argue otherwise (on either of these points) is being naive, plain and simple.

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E

I don't think that's neccessarily an inherent quality to asexuals. Some people "zone out" in their work fields when it comes to dealing with people. Surgeons and other doctors for instance. You can't think about the fact that you're taking apart a patient on the operating table and playing around with delicate nerve endings, or sticking your arm down a cow's butt. There's only the subject at hand, no feelings involved. It's all in the mindspace. Even sexual people can accomplish that sort of focus.

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Skycaptain

If nudity on its own was sexual would it not be likely that most people in naturist areas be showing some signs of arousal? 

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Philip027

Eh, not necessarily.  Many people get turned on by naked people regardless of whatever it is they're doing.

 

Showers aren't inherently sexual for instance, but the setting still is for a lot of people.  Movie producers know this, and it's why you'll often see shower scenes used to titillate the audience.

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Alejandrogynous

@Philip027 Your perspective here has baffled me so much that I brought it up to several of my (very much not asexual) friends, and they were equally as confused as I am, so you can make of that what you will. I get that we'll probably never agree so I'm not trying to convince you, just noting that I'm not alone and not a 'naive asexual' just because you view it differently.

 

Bodies are bodies. We are born naked, nakedness is our natural state. Nudity is not inherently sexual, and while some art (nude or otherwise) definitely portrays a sexual message, not all nude art is meant to do so. There is so much more that nakedness can represent in art: humanity, wholeness, vulnerability, empathy, etc., not to mention the sheer skill it takes to study and render anatomy. Artists do the same with animals, and nature, and buildings that they do with the human form, studying it from its barest form to be able to portray it properly. So you can see it how you like, but nudity in art is a tool that some use to pander to an audience because 'sex sells', but that's definitely not its only - or even its main- function.

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Philip027

Yeah, that's more or less something a lot of the artists who make art like this will probably try to tell you to not seem as perverse/depraved/[insert whatever other adjective here].

 

I'm just saying, I see so much emphasis placed on it in art and how it is viewed that I simply won't buy that argument, much like how I won't buy it if a producer says a gratuitous shower scene used in his movie was not meant to titillate his audience in any way.  Sorry you find that position baffling, but for my skeptical self, it comes pretty naturally after a while.

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Alejandrogynous

Well yes, I wouldn't believe a gratuitous shower scene was meant for any other purpose either. But not all nudity in art is gratuitous. Anyway, we're fine to have different viewpoints, I'd just appreciate you not posing it like I'm dumb/naive because I'm asexual and believe what 'secretly perverse' people tell me. I make nude art. I'm an artist and a model both. I've had a great deal of experience in art communities, far more than I've had in any asexual spaces, given that AVEN is pretty much it, lol. I'm not being taken in just because I appreciate art just like millions of other people do, I appreciate it because there's something to appreciate. It's fine if you don't but it's not a scam just because you don't get it.

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Philip027

You can see it however you want.  I'm just saying that it's pretty naive if you're telling yourself or anyone else that your nude art (presented to a typical audience) isn't going to be viewed/appreciated in a sexual manner, regardless of whatever your intentions with it are.  And I just happen to believe that with most artists, those intentions are very... intentional.  Same as with the movie producer.  Call it jaded of me if you like, but that's what my impression has been.

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Alejandrogynous

Oh, I don't think no-one will view it as sexual. That doesn't matter to me, people can think/do what they want - there's always going to be some folks who gets off to something, naked or not, so who cares. But not everyone will view it that way and that's my point. It doesn't have to be seen as sexual. It's not automatically sexual because it's naked. You can think what you want too, I really don't care whether you personally like art or think it's a giant scam. We have different experiences and that's fine, just maybe don't talk down to people.

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Philip027

Most will, and in my books, that makes it sexual, regardless of the creator's intent (points back to the Death of the Author concept mentioned above).  And I stand by my opinion that most artists are perfectly aware of that fact, and that those who try to refute it (by saying it isn't sexual because it wasn't their intention, or taking your "well, everyone will think SOMEthing is sexual anyway" position) are indeed being naive (or at best, willfully ignorant) to how their work will be generally received.

 

You can take it as an affront if you like, if that makes you feel any better about it.  As far as I'm concerned, I'm just stating a fact.

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ryn2

My experience - with a lot of artist friends, most of whom are sexual - supports what Alex and others are saying:  the purpose of life drawing is to become a better observer and to learn to draw the human body more accurately.  Are there people out there who are aroused by the results?  I’m sure there are, but then there are people out there aroused by all sorts of things that have little or nothing to do with the human body (or sex) at all.

 

As a fanfic author who interacts with a lot of fanartists, many people who create erotic or sexual art are quite proud of their work and comfortable with what it depicts/is intended to provoke.  I see very little shame and even less (to the point of being “effectively no”) attempting to pass their art off as “just figure drawing” or otherwise pretending it’s not sexual.

 

Is there someone out there who does that?  Doubtless so, but I don’t think it’s anything approaching typical (and I don’t think the other posters are exhibiting “ace naiveté” in this case).

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Philip027
2 hours ago, ryn2 said:

My experience - with a lot of artist friends, most of whom are sexual - supports what Alex and others are saying:  the purpose of life drawing is to become a better observer and to learn to draw the human body more accurately. 

Hah, yeah, and I totally watch porn for the deep characterizations and intriguing plotlines. 😏

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Zosia
2 minutes ago, Philip027 said:

Hah, yeah, and I totally watch porn for the deep characterizations and intriguing plotlines. 😏

Why is it so difficult for you to believe that people regardless of orientation can view nudity in a non-sexual way? Not everything is about sex, Dr. Freud.

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