The connotative differences between the nude and the naked:
To be naked suggests deprivation, i.e., deprived of clothes and embarrassed about it.
To be nude suggests a balanced, confident, prosperous body--no discomfort or embarrassment.
This difference suggests that the nude is an art form invented by fifth-century Greeks.
The nude is a quest for perfection of form, not mere representation of a perception.
When observing the naked body, we empathize and identify with it.
When observing the nude, we seek perfection.
This shows the different demands placed on the photographer and the artist.
Since part of the symbolic importance of the nude is its connection with eroticism, it cannot be completely cut off from erotic attitude without losing its importance as a work of art.
All works of art have symbolic connection to the world.
Some nude art must appeal to eroticism in order as part of their fundamental experience.
Although the nude would seem a universal and eternal representation of beauty, only in the Mediterranean regions has the naked body been so represented.
Oriental cultures tend to view the naked as merely part of representing life.
Northern Europeans only embraced the nude when influenced by Italian artists, but were never comfortable with it.
Greek ideal of completing what nature started.
Problems with the Greek ideal:
What standard of beauty is applied to improve on nature?
Even if we borrow 'parts' to complete the ideal, the problem is only transferred to the parts.
Furthermore, isolating 'parts' from their contexts deprives them of the very qualities that set off their beauty.
The notion of beauty as an 'average' compilation is not consistent with the view that it is precious and rare.
Perhaps the best understanding of the Greek ideal is as a myth constructed from the accrued experiences of artists over a long period to which is continually added more form.
VII. Peculiarities of the Greek mind leading to this myth of the ideal: the nude.
Faith in mathematics: the nude as a perfection of mathematical forms.
Body is a source of pride and should be kept trim and healthy.
Unity of the body with the whole of the person (spirit and body are one).
thus no concern for sensuality
thus no concern for aestheticism
Thus the Greek ideal of the nude combines the sensuality of the human body with the rationality of mathematical form and places them outside the world of desire and time. --Note the distancing effect here as referred to by Blocker!
The nude in art continues to be the best example of turning matter into form.
Note in Clark's essay how the nude is object of high art precisely because it strives for an ideal of perfection of form. He attempts to show that the nude appeals to us because we perceive it as symbol of so many things important simultaneously. Thus, as S&B suggest, the difference between the naked representations in pornography and the nude in art is a complex set of conditions that promote the aesthetic appeal over other utilitarian considerations. Does Clark convince you? Is there a difference between the naked body in Playboy and the nude in a classical painting or Greek statue? How does your answer reflect your views about art, the female body, and censorship?