One of the things that seemed to upset the ‘public’ over the Henson affair was the fact that the girl went to his studio and he asked her to undress. To the ‘uninformed’ public this seemed creepy. I say ‘uninformed’ because these people seem not to understand how artists learn to draw the human body. I think they vaguely know that art students attend life classes and that people pose naked as models. And this is exactly what most artists did, they hired models, and when they needed child models, they hired child models or children known to them – and asked them pose nude. And then when photography arrived, they took photographs for reference. Again, as I have repeatedly said, the naked child is not a major subject and therefore not every artist sought out child models. However, a few did and their sketches are freely available on the market.
A great resource is Academic Nudes of the 19th Century. This site’s primary focus is to review all manner of nudes and the blogger meticulously searches art auctions and art galleries around the world – the collection is comprehensive to say the least. Naturally he comes across the not so occasional child nude; as he must, simply because they exist, and because they have never been considered especially problematic until now.
Anyway, enough! I think I’ve more than proven the point (there are many more examples at the above website). The thing is, how do those who complain about images of naked children imagine that artists learned to draw the child if not by getting them to pose? As I’ve said over and over, the argument against the naked child in art is based wholly on ignorance.
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