”What spirit is so empty and blind, that it cannot recognize the fact that the foot is more noble than the shoe, and skin more beautiful than the garment with which it is clothed?” – Michelangelo
It is not the depiction, but the cultural context and individual intent that defines the meaning of any particular work of art. The art worlds of Western cultures offer many contexts, none of which include the personal feelings of empathy that exist when one human being looks at another. The context for me is the counter-culture of the late 60s and early 70s, when there was an attempt to free the human body from Puritanical values.
Also ignored in the critique of nude depictions are the women who, far from being the passive object to be seen, actively seek the opportunity to celebrate their bodies in works of art. In the almost fifty years that I have been drawing and painting, and the more recent decades of photography, I have worked with many women who found modeling for art an important part of their development of a positive self-image and a means of personal expression while participating in the creation of works of positive cultural value.