Saturday, February 14, 2009

Selma Hayek

As if I didn't already think she was the most stunning woman alive, she turns out to be an earth mother as well.

]h/t to a blog that is brand-spanking-new to me: Searching for my Willoboughy. An excellent post goes along video.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Friday Evening Nudes

George Platt Lynes

Valentine's Day Edition

Two Nudes Standing
Francois Jacques Moulin


The Kissers


Mother and Child
Tina Madotti

And a valentine from me,

with love

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Adult Content?

In anticipation of The Friday Evening Nudes, I'd like to ask you a question about what constitutes "adult content". Those of us who live in a world where nudity in life and art are normal and natural, perhaps give very little, if any, thought to whether the picture offends or is "appropriate" for family viewing.

With that said, my question is, essentially: should I flag the blog for adult content in the event that I choose to post photographs that are contemporary, and therefore perhaps more explicit than the innocent nudes of, say, Monet. I try not to post anything that I don't consider artistic; especially when it comes to nudes. Yet, that is a major judgment call. What I deem artistic, may be considered pornographic by someone else. It was with that assumption in mind that I initially decided not to flag the Pagan Sphinx.

Some of my thinking on this stems from the fact that I'm not part of large, artsy circles where these things are taken for granted. I'm a teacher at a tiny rural school where the mind-set is at times very puritanical. It is, after all, New England, where puritan values are still rather alive and well. It is also a community of which some members are offended by nudity and not by the gore and violence of the deer hunt. The latter offends me on many levels.

I will give you a couple of examples to rate.

Peter Hujar
Nude with Pearls

Hujar, I just learned, is a notable American photographer who photographed not only nudes but also animals and nighttime scenes of downtown Manhattan. His work has been exhibited at important museums such as The Institute of Contemporary Arts in London.

I don't really like this photograph that much, personally. But I want to know your thoughts on how it differs from pornography. Even though I don't care for this particular picture, I do recognize is as artistic and not pornographic. What do you think?


To my eye, this one is a stunner. It doesn't evoke any sexual feelings in me. I love the lines of the body, the shadow of it cast on the wall, how the body is suspended off the floor by the ropes. I think of dancing or gymnastics or aerial ballet.

But then I start wondering: what if a young child sees this painting and asks about it? I know how I would respond and I feel fine about it. But how would a parent who is not comfortable with nudity respond to that child's question?

I guess my main concern is that I'm living in my own bubble of arty images and thoughts. And The Pagan Sphinx is an eclectic blog. I wonder how I'd feel if the mother of a child who visits the blog to look at a sledding scene I took on the playground at school, comes upon a, if not pornographic, at least adult art photo. I'm okay with it, assuming it's handled simply and appropriately. Is that random possibility worth flagging the blog over? Tell me your thoughts.

And then there is this question: are female nudes viewed by any of you as exploitative of women, in general? I tend to evaluate that by my own set of criteria. What I'm thinking when I see the picture. The artist's motives, if any, don't usually play a part in my judgment. And it is a judgment. Perhaps it should. But I try very hard not to second-guess the artist. Again, thoughts.

I'm not personally overwhelmed by these issues. Most people, I'm sure, click on by if they see something or read something they don't like. I know I do. I guess I'm not so much concerned about offending people. My political views on say, Israel and the Palestinians, have the potential to offend many more people than nudes. What I'm wondering is, really - should I warn people that they may be offended by flagging the blog?

I hope this turns out to be an interesting discussion. I want your opinions; no holds barred.

Yours in peace,
Pagan Sphinx

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Shadow Shot Sunday

I did not take note of the title or creator of this sculpture. I was too busy being fascinated and delighted by the shadow of the holiday wreath hanging on the window behind it; covered by a shade.

Taken in mid-January at The Clarke Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts. This is straight out of the box; no enhancement. After playing with it a bit, I decided that for this shot, "as is" is the best take.

Thanks, Tracey of Brisbane for hosting Shadow Shot Sunday.

I like to post my entries for SS here, rather than the photo blog because Tracey is also an art lover and is the author of one of my favorite blogs Hey, Harriet. This is a high-quality photo meme, folks. Not only because Tracey is such a talented photographer and she is so artistic in the way she puts together Shadow Shots, but also because of her ability to attract so many great photographers who submit entries weekly.

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