Art censorship is a serious issue. People have different ideas of what is "offensive," and often that leads to valuable and important works of art being altered or destroyed for the sake of political correctness or "protecting" people.
I had pretty much thought we had moved past giggling at the nudity found in a lot of classical Renaissance art. Sure, when I was 10, I thought paintings of naked people were kind of funny, but then I grew up, I stopped over-sexualizing the human body, and I took an art history class where I learned how incredibly impactful Renaissance art was not only on the history of art but on the history of humanity.
Apparently, not everyone sees it that way. A student at Pensacola Christian College, a fundamentalist Baptist school in Florida, recently shared photos from an art textbook they found in the school's library. Some of the most famous and significant classical paintings in all of history had huge chunks of them covered in black Sharpie. The school had censored any sign of nudity whatsoever. Get ready to be appalled.
This is the book the student found.
First of all, it is an Eyewitness book. Remember those? They are made for children. Clearly, the people who made this book understood the value of the paintings shared in the book's pages and thought even small children could handle a little nudity. Because it's history. But you can see that even one of the paintings on the cover (in the bottom right corner) has been completely blacked out.
Instead of letting their students study fine art, Pensacola decided it was more important to censor the human body. It's insane. Everyone has seen a naked body because everyone has a body. The nudity is part of the art. It isn't there to be "naughty."
Even this baby was censored. A baby! His whole bottom half was blacked out because I guess the administrators would rather you spend your time imagining baby genitals rather than just look at a whole historical painting.
Um, did they put basketball shorts on those dudes? I don't think that's historically accurate, and frankly, it's more offensive than seeing a naked man. Also, what were they possibly censoring on the guy with the pink fabric? His six-pack?
Oh good, a closer look. There is so much to talk about with this painting, and by censoring it in the way they did, the school is limiting the conversation and preventing its students from getting out of it all they can.
Is this...? Did they...? That's a painting within a painting that they censored. I feel for the students at this college, who are clearly so sheltered and whose educations no doubt suffer because of it.
In a Reddit post, the student who posted the pictures wrote that they wanted to be a cartoonist but their parents were "terrified of the 'weirdos' at art school." So they enrolled in the Fine Art program at Pensacola. But because of censorship like this and the fact that even their life-drawing class models were fully-clothed, they never learned what they should have in an art program.
Hm, yeah, that "deep shadow" that "accentuates the curve of her cleavage"? Can't see it. Guess I will never fully understand the sensationalism and power of Gentileschi's art.
This isn't even a fully human creature! What some Christians deem inappropriate or the cause of temptation is: A) not actually a problem — sexuality is something that should be celebrated and talked about, and nudity should not be shameful and forbidden; and B) really just an irrational fear about what arouses people anyway. I doubt anyone is getting excited thinking about this deer-man-statue-thing in an old painting.
You might recognize this as a piece from the inimitable Michelangelo. Hey, you know where this piece isn't censored at all? In the Sistine Chapel! This is a work of religious art. The fact that a Christian college is censoring it is a level of irony that I cannot even begin to process right now.
In the words of the person who posted these pics, "Yes, that is the Mona Lisa." Shall we be rebels and take a look at the uncensored version of the painting?
That faint line of cleavage, the tiniest acknowledgement that the subject of one of the most famous paintings of all time is actually a woman with a body, was too much for the administrators at Pensacola Christian College.
Go figure. Oh no wait! Not a human figure. That's too much.