Letter:Nudes in public places are spiritually uplifting

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The Independent Online
From Professor D. J. Naismith Sir: Having been responsible for the selection of paintings to adorn the walls of an all-science college in London University, I was dismayed to read ("PC activists confront naked truth", 8 February) that paintings were to be removed on the grounds of political correctness from the walls of the University of Southampton.

Political correctness in the arts is an intriguing and disturbing phenomenon. I wondered whether Maia ni Bhrolchain's problem with objectification applied solely to women (was not Adam also objectified in Larry Wakefield's urban landscape?) or to nude women. Would neither of Goya's Mahas be acceptable in the conference room of the social sciences department?

As a biological scientist, I also wonder whether political correctness shows equal concern for other life forms. Are not George Stubbs' noble beasts and George de la Tour's magnificent flowers, fruits and vegetables also objectified? All figurative painting is basically objectification - an arrangement of forms. Should the work also have a "meaning" (that elusive element so sought after in non-figurative painting), or reveal an attitude on the part of the artist worthy of approbation or contempt, then it is arguably a more interesting painting.

The opportunity to appreciate the beauty of a formal composition and to confront creative genius is surely more important, even to students of social statistics, than the rigid observation of political dogma. Have we forgotten the purges of the arts, in the name of political correctness, in Stalin's Soviet Union and Hitler's Third Reich?

Yours faithfully, D. J. Naismith King's College, London London, W8

9 February

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