Memorials For Life
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Art In Its Purest Form
Memorials might just be some of the purest forms of art that humanity has ever created. That is certainly the hypothesis of a number of art critics and scholars across the world who have recently taken to studying the world’s unique, interesting pieces of art that are intended as memorials.
Perhaps the most interesting of art memorials are the many nude statues that adorn cemeteries across the world. By today’s western (or at least American) standards, nude statues conjure images that may seem too sensual for a formal setting such as a cemetery. (It was a dignified American attorney general, after all, who famously ordered a nude Goddess of Liberty statue at the U.S. Justice Department’s headquarters to be adorned with a robe in 2003.) Most cemetery statues now in days feature either saints, heavenly angels, or even women or men - all of which are fully clothed. But such attitudes toward nude statues have not always been prevalent, nor are they universal today. Nude statues serve as elegant art memorials in cemeteries across the globe, today.
Applying the hypothesis that art memorials are the most pure art in the world, these nude memorials take on some intrigue.
Just how is it that sensual statues of nude figures make for good art memorials? Are not memorials supposed to be stoically formal?
A number of scholars have undertaken those, and other related questions, which have led to some intriguing observations that we list here:
First, scholars note, art memorials established in cemeteries are generally intended to provide comfort for grieving loved-ones. And the fact that nude statues fall into that category is evidence that the modern world is not quite as uncomfortable with nudity as pop culture hints. The study of the nude body has, for centuries, been considered the epitome of artistic talent, and their use generally summons the classic, timeless spirit of God Himself. In fact, in ancient times, spiritual beings such as gods and goddesses were typically depicted nude, while human figures were always clothed. So, by portraying a “human” in a nude from, an artist is, historically speaking, paying the ultimate compliment to that human, sending him or her off to eternity in the unspoiled image of God. From that perspective, it’s easy to understand why nudes would make for perfect art memorials.
So, then the important question may be, as some scholars suggest, why is it that modern pop culture – at least in the United States and other “westernized” places on the globe -- would be uncomfortable with nudes as art memorials.
The answer to that question will, of course, require plenty of consultation with sociologists, historians of theology, and other scholars in related fields. But, absent the ideas from those experts, it’s safe to say that this discomfort with nudes as art memorials is yet more evidence that modern western pop culture has lost significant respect and admiration for the classic ideals handed down from the ancient world. Whether that is a good thing is left for another discussion. For today, since nudes do continue to be used as art memorials in modern western cemeteries, it’s important to note that the disconnect between pop culture and the classics is not entirely universal.