By Brian Alexander
Forty years ago, a key Supreme Court case with a Kafka-esque name, United States v. Ten Erotic Paintings, put works of some of the great modern artists of Europe on trial. Seventeen years ago, an exhibit of the photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe in Cincinnati wound up getting a museum curator arrested on obscenity charges. He was later acquitted. Five years ago, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft failed to see the irony of covering seminude art deco statues in the Justice Department — “Spirit of Justice” and “Majesty of Law” — with giant blue drapes reminiscent of burkas as American troops were fighting against the Taliban.
Now, though, more and more Americans are voting with their feet and their dollars to say they appreciate a painting that may at first look like fresh cherries but when you stare long enough, becomes an image of kinky sex.
We don’t know about you, but busts of women (or women’s busts, for that matter) obscured in burqa-like cloth is reminiscent of the Middle Ages. Or, last fall in Afghanistan. Take your pick. Now erotic art is sweeping the nation, and even the latest magic eye paintings are x-rated. Controversial?
On the contrary. It’s about time someone besides the brave women in those Dove campaigns got around to baring nearly all. And celebrating the human form in a shape other than size 0, living on apple wedges, and runway-bound. Not that we’re saying there’s anything wrong with being born naturally skinny! It’s just that life does imitate art. And the new wave of art sweeping the nation celebrates human life in all shapes and sizes. We’re definitely patrons of that.