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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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34 Responses to 726

  1. beckyG says:

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art here in NYC has an exhibit called “the Model as Muse” – I compare those stick chicks to the Reubens on display in this museum – no comparison. Ruebens rules!

  2. Forrest says:

    Actually, much art has been done with the female form as its subject. There’s just something inherently compelling to it.
    Kathy says; The old art, was done by male artists, there were not female artists in that era.
    And, there’s a great difference between nakedness and nudity.
    (she’s had much art appreciation and art history classes)

    The human form, our bodies, is the the most basic element in life.
    And, admittedly, the other gender’s is the one most interesting to explore. ;-)

    A lot of abstract art in paint on canvas, and sculpture, I just don’t seem to “get” the feel of.
    Do have better luck with what might be said to be abstract mood photography.

    There’s other directions this cartoon can go too –
    such as, what is a/the difference between fine, or classical, art and eroticism?

  3. I’m reminded of Sandi Toksvig who commented recently: “I don’t know a lot about art, but I know what I like… … …Books!”

  4. Bo says:

    I draw myself (though not so much atm.), and I therefore often speak with other people who draw.
    And everybody want to draw persons.
    You could go to an arts side such as http://www.deviantart.com/ and the majority of all drawings, paintings (digital or old-school) and photos have a human body in the motive, quite often partly (or completely) nude.
    There is just that basic fascination with our bodies, after all they are the things which we are most intimately connected to in the physical realm.

    With that in mind, I deeply regret they way pornography have misused our basic fascination of the naked body, and stripped all dignity and purity from it.
    The problem is multiplied manifold with pornography being so visible in our (european) society, in newspapers & magazines and on the internet, and being sold everywhere.

  5. Carole says:

    I do try to be very open-minded about art. I enjoy hearing what the artist says about his/her influence and inspiration. I enjoy listening to what those, reputedly ‘in the know’ have to say. I enjoy adding my own unsophisticated two penn’orth to the communal commentary, where I can (a bit like here!). Sometimes something really basic, requiring no great skill or talent to put together can astound me with its simple genius. When I saw Guernica ‘in the flesh’ I found it to be a jaw-droppingly awesome sight, having only ever seen it reduced to a postcard. I’ve marvelled at Raphaels and Caravaggios. I’ve thought that if there was one less big red canvas in this Rothko exhibition (since they all looked pretty much the same to me) perhaps they could fit a few more of someone else’s works in. I’ve often thought, “What a load of Jackson Pollocks!” But when I saw an artistic representation of a woman’s legs akimbo with vagina on full view, complete with real pubic hair…call me a prude, but I just felt uncomfortable and embarrassed by it.

    I suppose art is as much about the viewer’s response as anything else.

  6. subo says:

    thats such an evocative image, cheers Jon.

    and thanks for your thoughtful comments folks, I think there’s something in what you say Bo, it’s as though our bodies have so much to say, which is airbrushed out in an elevation of perfection, or where the lie is simply to distort human love and intimacy for finical gain

    sadly, we are left with the damage, as our feelings our denied, we become more and more separate, isolated, vulnerable but no longer free to show that we need each other

    church then seems to perpetuate the separation and isolation, as we split ourselves into ‘ministers’ & ‘flock’, reinforcing the walls against friendship and brotherhood, and scapegoating the few that get in the way of our grand schemes, systems and visions

    here’s to finding our nakedness before God, who knows the longings of our hearts

  7. subo says:

    we’re posting at the same time Carol, must be a special connection

  8. Miriworm says:

    Pablo Picasso:
    All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he or she grows up.
    Science and art belong to the whole world, and before them vanish the barriers of nationality.

  9. jonbirch says:

    bo and carole’s comments raises a bunch of questions which i’m not sure i know the answer to. art, eroticism, porn… when does one become the other? can art be pornographic, or is that just pornography?
    when manet’s olympia was first shown it was deemed by most to be porn. her eyes look at you and she is presented in a cold light, very deliberately…
    egon schiele’s nudes and other figure work – they’re well drawn, brilliantly drawn in fact, but i could never live with one on my wall.
    what do we make of jenny saville? i certainly think she’s an astonishingly skilled painter with a lot to say about the objectification of the body, often using her own. a lot of her work makes uncomfortable viewing to say the least. to my mind it is brilliant, but some of it isn’t nice in any way.

  10. Pat says:

    It’s an interesting question Jon. I wonder too whether, with something like Sciele, or Klimt’s similarly brilliantly drawn and very frank sketches of nudes (which I saw at the Tate Livepool Klimt exhibition last year) they evoke different feelings in women viewers? Or whether that’s too simplistic ..which I guess, on reflection, it probably is. I certainly wasn’t offended or embarrased by the Klimts and I appreciated and enjoyed the skill that went into their execution. like you though, I don’t think I’d necessarily want one hanging on my wall.

    I confess that Jenny Saville’s pictures have a very variable effect on me – some I quite like, others I find much too uncomfortable – though that is I think not really to do with the nudity aspects. I

    If i was going to have a nude on my wall it would have to be a Lucien Freud one – I think his way of painting flesh is stunning.

  11. Carole says:

    One work I feel uneasy about is Marcus Harvey’s work depicting the iconic photo of Myra Hindley, formed from children’s hand prints. I understand fully why it provoked the response it did from the public…deeply offensive and insensitive towards the families of the victims of the Moors murderers…but there is something about it. In a hundred years time, when we are detached from the terrible associations, is it possible that it might be viewed differently?

  12. jonbirch says:

    i think the myra hindley picture is a bit sick. more adolescent than artistic in my view. it is also lazy, because the notoriety is already there in the person of hindley and he has simply attached a ‘joke’ and made it big… ridden on her coattails so to speak.

    antony gormley’s figures, stood widely spaced out along the beach looking out to sea does it for me. i don’t know why, but i find it extremely moving.

    there are two artists who speak very clearly to me about the times we live in. there’s damien hurst, who i think is a voice of the corporate and ‘artistic’ classes… money for old rope if you ask me, but you didn’t. and then there’s banksy, the voice of the people, putting art back in it’s right place and actually saying something which i find meaningful.
    i know which of these two is my favourite. i’d be happy with his work on my interior and exterior walls. :-)

  13. Forrest says:

    Re: #9 by jon where he says,”i certainly think she’s an astonishingly skilled painter with a lot to say about the objectification of the body, often using her own. a lot of her work makes uncomfortable viewing to say the least. to my mind it is brilliant, but some of it isn’t nice in any way.”

    That fits as objectifying someone makes the object of objectification uncomfortable. And, it isn’t nice in any way to have that done to you.

    Must admit that all these artists are unfamiliar to me. As Deviantart website is mentioned, my stepdaughter is on there.
    Not, however in any of the type of art in this subject! http://brieal.deviantart.com/
    Art vs. Porn – art is art and porn is porn. There is a recognizable difference in the two, not sure what words to use to describe that other than there is a feeling of crassness to pornographic nudity which art nudity does not evoke.
    Yes. Sometimes there is a blurring of the borderline when art leans toward crudeness and harshness.

  14. Forrest says:

    Re: #11 by Carole, As it happens, living across an ocean from where that happened I am detached now and don’t have to wait for the future; so, to do that image of someone who murdered children with childrens’ hand prints works.
    will also say, I haven’t looked it up. Just giving here some thoughts about the manner by which it was done.

    It speaks of life and identy and ‘personhood’ of those whose lives were violently taken. After all, not a whole lot is more personal than your handprint. And children often do handprint art in school and summer camp and they are intimately attached to their handprint works. Sort of a “mommy, this is ME!” thing.

    There’s a roundabout “blood on your hands” thing to it too – the blood of the children you killed, who are allegorically represented by these childrens’ hands, is on your hands.

  15. dennis says:

    this is sort of one of those things I think of often and mainly end up having the conversation with myself becuase no one else wants to talk about it. I have no idea when nudity becomes porn, when I was younger porn seemed risky and something only boys did now it just seems acceptable. Its not really my thing anymore and as I have grown up and tried to get rid of that Christian ‘tunnel’ vision I had forced on me I have come to accept and like things more than I was aloud to years ago.

    I did get to the conclusion that when a photo/picture depicted sexual acts then it was defo porn but I am not too sure anymore, incidentally Youthwork magazine says that Christians are addicted to porn? I am not too sure about that!

    One thing I do know is that the human form in all its nakedness is Beautiful.

  16. Ros says:

    I know what I like…. looking at myself naked! :)

    On another point, what makes pornography explicit and artists nudes art?

  17. herbeey says:

    “Youthwork magazine says that Christians are addicted to porn? I am not too sure about that!”
    What makes you think they aren’t?

  18. Carole says:

    Jon – yes I agree, this is an absolutely taboo thing and yes, it is sick, making your name on the back of an appalling act. I don’t know anything about the guy who did it but I wonder what his motivation was there – was it a cheap, unpleasant, cynical shot? I don’t know, perhaps someone could enlighten me. It brings us down to what criteria does something have to fulfil in order to be deemed art? It’s the semantics thing again. Should art shock? Is hurting someone OK if it is in the name of art?

    One particularly disturbing artist/anatomist Honore Fragonard produced various exhibits of flayed corpses – a nineteenth century Gunther von Hagens, if you like. His ‘horsemen of the apocalypse’ is (apparently) a flayed man on a flayed horse, surrounded by human foetuses riding horse foetuses. I think he was eventually chucked out of his day job at the vetinary school for being a madman…no surprises there!

  19. Carole says:

    Forrest – yes, I can see that interpretation, which is why the whole thing bothers me. That photo of Hindley is just such an icon of evil over here and has been for most people’s lifetimes that I guess it is pushing ‘art’ too far for people to accept.

  20. Caroline Too says:

    I think the Myra Hindley piece, made up of a collage of children’s hands is simply amazing

    I hav no words for how I felt when I first saw it,

    I still have no words

    it was something like anguish, fascination, horror, compassion, for who? …

    but those words don’t do justice to my response

    I can not tell you how I feel even now, I can only look and respond…

    that’s why I think that it’s a work of art…

  21. Caroline Too says:

    I love modern art… it’s something about the way it engages me rather than just ‘talking’ at me. a few years agon I visited Paris and went to the Musee D’Orsay (19th Century) one day and the Pompidou Centre (20th)the next day, here’s an extract of a poem I wrote as I tried to make sense of hwo the two museums affected me

    D’Orsay did everything for me,
    presented the artwork complete.
    I was made an extra, supporting, redundant;
    my only role to admire:
    nothing expected of me.
    And if nothing expected, so nothing achieved.
    If nothing required then nothing attempted,
    but I want to attempt, and I want to engage.
    I want to take part, make a start to an art,
    .. but D’Orsay did it all for me,
    so I just walked around.
    Now a line of grey bricks, or bold coloured square,
    that I could do, that could be me
    and maybe I’d add
    an idea here and there,
    and so for a moment,
    an exhilarating moment,
    I’d be an artist there too!

  22. Pat says:

    Just as a slight aside, but still on the porn issue, this month’s Third Way has a short piece in its ‘Way In’ section describing the launch of a range of Christian ‘Ex-Shirts’. So.. you can, if you so wish, walk around procliaiming yourself to be an ‘Ex-Porn Addict’ (or a whole variety of other rather explicit things)

    Ex-Shirts at p4cm.com

    I’ve not been to either the D’Orsay or the Pompidou but I think your poem gives a good sense of your experiences there Caroline Too. But surely it’s possible to engage with classical art in a meaningful way as well?

  23. Pat says:

    Just as a slight aside, but still on the porn issue, this month’s Third Way has a short piece in its ‘Way In’ section describing the launch of a range of Christian ‘Ex-Shirts’. So.. you can, if you so wish, walk around procliaiming yourself to be an ‘Ex-Porn Addict’ (or a whole variety of other rather explicit things)

    Ex-Shirts at p4cm.com

    I’ve not been to either the D’Orsay or the Pompidou but I think your poem gives a good sense of your particular experiences there Caroline Too.

  24. dennis says:

    17. simple answer there is a difference between addiction and liking something. I just didn’t like the general statement.

  25. Carole says:

    Caroline Too – I liked your poem/reflection at 21. I had just a short time at the Musee D’Orsay so I decided to just do the top floor with the Impressionist paintings. Not being an art expert, it was great to see all of these images which had been known to me through mass production, in the original form, all in one place. Not sure my youngest daughter, who was about 11 at the time was quite so enthusiastic. Determined she shouldn’t miss the ‘highlights’, I let her sit, bored, in each of the rooms, until I saw something particularly worthy of note and then I would call, “Lauren! Here – ‘Whistler’s Mother'”, “Van Goch’s ‘Starry Night'”, “Monet’s Water Lilies”… I remain convinced that one day she will thank me…perhaps I am being a bit over-optimisitic! By the time we got to the Louvre (which I found just too vast to appreciate) we had to resort to the Simpsons connection – the Moaning Lisa and the Gummy Venus de Milo!

  26. James says:

    I am at the art campus of my college studying multimedia design. We had to study life drawing as an additional qualification whilst on the course for most of this year.

    I actually found nothing sexual about drawing the naked form. Very quickly the model becomes an object, just something you are drawing (rather then objectification), like an orange or anything else you may find yourself drawing. I had to concentrate far more on having to get the shapes of her body, proportion and the shading etc right

    The poses we drew were general standing and sitting/reclining poses so nothing that suggested eroticism at all really.

    I also find that when looking at others life drawing I am looking at their use of tone, colour, proportion etc. Since going to college I have a new found appreciation of art through life drawing and contextual studies.

    You are touching on something that is apparently looked at on degree level courses, that I don’t think there is much agreement on in this – what can and cannot be considered to be art?

    Is it in the eye of the creator? the viewer? art critics? which of these people have the right to claim that something is or isn’t art?

  27. herbeey says:

    Again, what makes you so sure?

  28. Robb says:

    Dennis – I spent a fortnight being lectured on “sexuality and gender” and there was an entire day devoted to “christians who are addicted to porn”.

    Check out http://xxxchurch.com/ [not porn].

    They have redesigned the site but it used to open with this.

    Don’t know if I like it as a concept but it certainly shows that there are christians who are affected by porn addiction.

  29. dennis says:

    I agree Robb there are probably some maybe more than imaginable, I am no angel neither it was just the generalisation of a world wide epidemic of Christian youth workers addicted to porn.

    I was trying to point out rather sheepishly that I like nude fine art but im not addicted to porn. (honest)

  30. Bo says:

    # 9: I would say that something is porn whenever it trigger a fantasy of or lusting after sex for the purpose of your own satisfaction.
    Which means that many nude paintings & photos would be classified as borderline, since they would evoke that fantasy in some people, but not all.

    Sex should always be about the RELATIONSHIP between man and woman (no, I don’t want comments regarding GLBT) with the affirmation of the relationship and the love that binds it together as first priority, individual satisfaction come as a bonus, not a target in its own right.

    Just surfed xxxchurch.com, and found a great article:


    One could ask how we ended up with a western civilisation that degrade it’s view on sex more each passing day. Where does the influence come from?
    The answer is simple, money=influence, and the porn industry generate excessive amounts of cash, having an efficient GDP of more than Morocco.
    Add to this that trafficking is the fastest growing crime on the planet.

  31. Bo says:

    I would like to add that pornography always objectifies the person.
    This reduce her (or him) to something less than a person – an object, to be used or abused in the fantasy of the spectator.

    I thought about defining porn as that which objectifies people, but then I realised that people are being objectified in a lot of ways that doesn’t involve sexual attraction.
    Scientific studies necessarily reduce people to only the properties relevant for the study in question, and psychopaths reduce people to things to be mastered, controlled, dominated & exploited.

  32. subo says:

    wow, Pat, check out those groovy T’s. guess they’d go down well with my Dad!

    reminds me, I tried training as a counsellor, so my darling husband got me a T saying ‘why does the nutter always sit next to me?’

  33. theseoldshades says:

    I’m preparing for a philosophy exam on Aesthetics at the moment so I have to admit my appreciation of art is at an all time low I’m so fed up with it!

    Caroline Too: I love the D’Orsay :) So many paintings I love in there. When I was in Paris a couple of months ago I was absolutely captivated by Monet’s ‘La Pie’. Just stood in front of it, unable to believe the light in the painting wasn’t real.

    Maybe it’s art theory I’m fed up with, not art! :D

  34. Tiggy says:

    “something is porn whenever it trigger a fantasy of or lusting after sex for the purpose of your own satisfaction.”

    What’s wrong with something triggering a fantasy? And aren’t all fantasies for our own satisfaction?

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