Re: Public displaying of Nude Art
It is strange that Koon's work carries so much baggage with it. I would think that in the usually all embracing, everything goes world we currently live in his ethics and artistic derivations would hardly raise an eyebrow, but it seems that some of you have problems with him. (That being said, I am no proponent of his work.)
But isn't he doing exactly what many other artists do in trying to convince people that they are creating something significantly different from the rest? How many rip offs of Rothko, Rauschenburg, Maplethorpe, or Warhol do you see? Three quarters or more of the artists out there are rip off artists. How often do you really see something unique? Here, in and around New York, the amount of psuedo-intellectual/conceptual artwork is nigh staggering. The interesting thing to note is that much of it is interchangeable...or could have been produced by the same people. A good portion of it is Abstract Expressionism rehashed for the umpteenth time. If I had a nickel.....
Personally, I think that the issue isn't displaying the nude in public. More precise would be to say that Koons work is really about naked figures. The distinction between the two being a point for discussion. We had a seminar our first semester here at the academy about just that topic.....naked or nude. Kenneth Clark wrote a good book, The Nude: A Study in Ideal form, that covers the traditionally accepted view of what constitues a nude. In the last century or so, however, the nude has been supplanted by the naked. Manet's Lunch on the Grass is a good example. The woman is naked...she should be clothed but is not. She has been sexualized. She is no Venus who is nude because it is her natural state. Courbet was doing the same thing with many of his so-called "nudes". They were really naked women and not far removed from the erotic postcards one could get in Paris at the time. It seems to be a matter of taste (or lack of it) now just as it was then. Some think any figure unclothed in any action is fine without understanding that nudity/nakedness are societal conventions and vary from culture to culture. In the west these conventions have dictated the use of the nude figure and have retstrained the use of the naked figure. Koons is trampling on social conventions and has made a name for himself doing it....much like Eric Fischl.....much like Joel Peter Witkin.....Much like Robert Mapplethorpe...and the list keeps growing. Nothing new, just shock art. Finding out what makes the public gasp and creating as much of it as possible. This type of art requires the least creative ability and is seeking to interface with the lowest common denominator in human nature.
Should we be putting naked sculptures in public spaces...no...not in a country that is trying to protect its children. In galleries where people wanting that type of thing can go see them?..... sure. A nude figure in public spaces is different however.....mainly because it isn't sexualized and wasn't created to offend or shock. That sort of image does not present the body in a degrading way.