Letter: Nothing rude about the nude
Tuesday 14 February 1995
Sir: As an artist, I was delighted to read Professor Naismith's letter (10 February), which he wrote as a scientist who thinks and speaks more clearly about art than many artists do.
Good artists, as well as good scientists, never stop experimenting; having ideas and then trying them out, requiring imagination and then rigour. By definition, neither artists nor scientists can ever deliver a correct message because they must keep moving. (Both Sir Ernst Gombrich and Sir Peter Medawar describe this very clearly.) Thinking in both the arts and in science can be seriously hampered by minority pressure groups. Intellectual censorship is always frightening, but inside a university it quite simply destroys the core.
The argument in Helen Keats's letter (10 February) was that the nude paintings were "out of context". Should social statisticians sitting in conference rooms only be allowed to look at pictures of social statisticians sitting in conference rooms? All good art transports us "out of context". Stephen Spender's poem An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum describes this beautifully and is a warning of the dangers of politically correct censorship inside any place of learning. The poem was written decades ago - so when did political correctness start?
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