Art vs. Gratuity

I’ll go ahead and warn you that this is an R-Rated post.

I think we all know there’s a different between nude art and porn, but it’s hard to place our finger on WHAT it is.

I thought about this as I pondered where my blog was going. I want to make a Christian site that isn’t a children’s sight (Modern Christianity’s head just exploded). But I wondered where the line was. The first thing I thought of was “no nudity.” But then a voice came into my head. “So, you can’t show the Statue of David?”

art 1

“Oh, well, that’s different. That’s art.”

“What’s the difference?”

And here we are.

Maybe WordPress will have my hide for that picture, but I kind of doubt it. I mean, it’s art. It’s shown all over the world. CHILDREN can look at it. Although David is blatantly naked, no one calls it pornography.

Or what about this picture?

art 2

This is Venus, the goddess of love and sex. As such, she is naked, and though she’s covering most of herself, one breast is still plainly visible. This isn’t found on some shady site loaded with viruses; it’s shown across the whole world. Why? Is it because you can’t see the other breast? Is just one boobie okay? Is it because her hair is covering her ladybits? Yeah, right. One boobie gets an R-rating on TV, yet here call it “art,” and you can put it on your kid’s lunchbox.

Now first of all, I know that anyone can slap an “art” label on anything and try to get away with sex, violence, and rock ‘n’ roll, and I’m not saying that this stuff is necessarily for kids, even if it is art, but even this right-leaning Christian Republican can say there’s some real validity in the concept of nude art.

The human body is a beautiful thing. Stop and look at your hand. No, really. Look at it. Follow the lines across your palm, intersect when they do. Take your opposite hand and trace the ridges of your knuckles. Look at the back of your hand and watch how it flows into your wrist and up your forearm. You are a landscape of beauty, perfectly designed and artistically woven. That’s not just the Christian in me speaking; that’s a fact.

Have you ever watched an athlete move? The way the muscles tighten and relax, the way their entire body moves like a well-oiled machine, is amazing to watch. Have you ever watched a dance? That incredible combination of grace and strength that only the human body can perform? If you never have, go to Youtube right now and watch some dancer videos. It’s incredible.

art 3

And yet…

I would agree with pretty much everybody when I say that there is a line. There’s a point in which art is no longer art, just gratuity. Now I’m not some art scholar or super theologian (I’m more “plus” than “super”), but I don’t think it has as much to do with the amount of clothing in the picture, but rather something bigger.

The difference is intent.

Michelangelo didn’t carve the statue of David hoping that some lady would swoon and carry him up to her private chambers. Boticelli didn’t paint Venus so that the men would grope the canvas. They used the nude body to express art, not art to express the nude body.

Gratuity would have given David a 10-inch hard-on. Gratuity would have shown both of Venus’s breasts and they would have been well-oiled and enormous. Sex would have been the entire point. Porn doesn’t like to show the whole body for long; it likes to zoom-in on the interesting parts. I guess it caters more to the audience that way, but that’s why they call it “gratuity.”

This, I believe, is the single most important difference between an artistic masterpiece and an exploitation film: how it is USED.

Art creates. Gratuity reduces.

Art glorifies the human body. Gratuity only glorifies parts of it.

Art says “you are beautiful.” Gratuity says, “you are usable.”

Art gives. Gratuity is selfish.

Art awes. Gratuity shocks.

Art lasts forever. Gratuity is killed by its successors.

Art is Godly. Gratuity is carnal.

Now we receptors have our part to play. I’m sure some girls have oggled David’s package and said, “OMG he is seeewww hawt!” And I’m sure some dude-bros have gazed upon Venus and immediately thought, “I’d hit that.” You can’t control how people will accept what you put out; twisted minds twist. And I’m also aware that the lines can easily blur.

But I still believe it’s intent that divides that pieces in a museum from the pieces at the back of the video store.

Do you agree or not?

5 thoughts on “Art vs. Gratuity

  1. I completely agree though I wonder if the explicit erotic frescoes on the Pope’s bathroom is considered art why is it then hidden from the public eye?


  2. Very interesting post–especially from a christian perspective. God made the human body and if we are created in his image then it is something to celebrate. Obviously, if not for that pesky serpent and his forbidden fruit, it might still be okay for everyone to walk around in the nude. But, since it isn’t, it is definitely important to look at the motive or intent behind why nudity is used and, unfortunately, there are plenty of great movies and tv shows out there that jump far over the line into gratuity/”sexposition”


    1. Yeah, the world likes to take everything good and twist it. It’s actually very strange to see a movie where the nudity/sex actually has a point. Oddly refreshing, too.


  3. I 100% believe that intent is what separates the two. As a former art student, this is one of the things that drove me absolutely bonkers. I REALLY love the human form. Especially women – from a purely body/form perspective, women have been documented for centuries for the differences and beauties in their bodies. But did the conservative Christians in my small town feel the same? Nope.

    I extremely dislike the take on nudity our (western’s?) society has taken. Has always taken I suppose. Look at how public bath houses are treated in Japan. They are a cleanliness thing, not a sexual thing. It’s completely acceptable for all ages and bodies to get clean and healthy. But I would never see that happening there.

    Again… intent.


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