Art, Philosophy, and Art Philosophy: Essay 0005

Personal Opinion Essays on  HISTORY,   MYTH,  MORALITY,  &  ART yesterday and today by the artist.

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Essay V

Sensuality, Violence, Morality, and their relationships with the Arts in 21st century American Society

A case for the sacredness, purity, and beauty of the human form

Howard David Johnson is a contemporary realistic visual artist and photographer with a background in the natural sciences and history. He works in a wide variety of realistic art media ranging from traditional oils,  pastels and others to cutting edge digital media. He loves mixing media. His web site features many examples of his Realistic Art, including illustration, photography, experimentalism, and fine art

     In our 21st century western society the disparity between the moral attitudes toward images and actions is amazing to me and I will examine in this article just how unfair they really have become and how "political correctness" is destroying our cultural heritage. 

      In history, the Classical or Greco-Roman school of art is distinguished by the notion that the human form is the ultimate arena for artistic expression. Unclothed figures were very common in Classical art and their culture was very comfortable with it in general. The Victorians in contrast have always stood out in my mind for their extreme prudishness and puritanicalism. They invented the tablecloth to prevent men from looking at a table's legs because they feared a table leg might make men think "dirty thoughts". In spite of this, 19th century Victorian Art did allow some unclothed figures in statues and paintings within certain bounds. One of the principal attractions of fairy paintings for the Mid-Victorians was that they made possible highly realistic and erotic pictures of unclad females that would have otherwise been inadmissible. In the 20th century the sensual revolution eliminated all of these traditional boundaries. I can see how the radical transformation of society by the total liberation of the subconscious was a bit too much for most people. In 21st century America however, the sight of a healthy partially unclad woman is taboo even as an innocent or religious depiction in the visual arts. 

A moral pendulum swinging too far again?

   I find this very interesting considering they way American society is so comfortable with violence- even children viewing extreme violence and gore on television and in motion pictures. It's terrible- disembowelments, exploding heads with splattering blood and guts, cut off arms and legs are deemed just fine for prime time children's viewing. But not to worry- the profanity has been edited out. It seems too arbitrary to me. If the human body is torn apart or cut to pieces it is all right. Desecration of the human body is embraced or tolerated while appreciation or adoration even in art, is condemned. I think the human form is sacred.

The average American child sees 20,000 violent deaths on television alone by the age of 10.

      I find it interesting that America feels that while tolerating and even embracing extreme violence and greed that we are outraged at the sight of a beautiful young woman and the healthy uncovered female human body is a dirty, filthy thing to be ashamed of. I disagree.

    Since the source for this stigma about images of women is supposed to be the influence on our society's laws by the sacred writings of the Judeo-Christians, I present to you the idea that this is not what these actually teach and they are also being treated as arbitrarily as a buffet line and will use illustrations. This attitude comes from Jesus' saying: "If a man even look at a woman to lust after her, he has already committed adultery in his heart." By this same standard, just thinking about robbing the poor and the elderly is a sin, but in our society the act is considered "a good business move". Don't misunderstand me, he taught that his commandment was to love one another, and basically that if you did that the ceremonial law was fulfilled. A more positive approach; if you love someone you won't murder them, falsely accuse them, etc., etc., If your heart is full of covetousness for a woman, a car or anything it is likely you will transgress this law in practice. Cheating, stealing, torture, and even murder in actual practice are taken in stride by our society, but seeing a woman's left bosom exposed is an outrage. If the Ten Commandments are the standard we're going by as they say-

What about the other nine?

        Children are diligently taught to dishonor their parents on every "family" television show. It is taboo now- yes, it is actually considered wrong to portray a good father in American movies and television with only the rarest of exceptions. What is so terribly wrong about a portrayal of a good dad? To me, this is an outrage. Stealing the retirements of thousands of citizens who have worked hard all their lives is "a good business move". 

What about "thou shalt not murder"? (Interestingly, it doesn't say” kill"{ harag } in the original Hebrew text, { Exodus 20:13 } but "murder"{ ratsach }. ) I won't dwell on war here, but In Nazi Germany, six million people- Jews, Christians, and politicals were secretly murdered in the death camps, but in modern America, more than forty million baby boys and girls have been publicly murdered by willing citizens in abortion clinics and we call that a “choice". If history called that the Holocaust, how will history judge us?  Judeo-Christian morality, and that's what we're talking about here as the most influential source of America's laws, ONLY justifies killing in self-defense. The child in the womb is defenseless. 

Again, I find this astonishing that we as a society can tolerate or even embrace such horrific and gruesome acts and then make such a big issue out of mild nudity in a painting or statue. Our society treats sacred writings like a buffet line choosing what is politically expedient to their cause and ignoring the rest. 

I ONLY bring these up as an examples of the disparity between society's acceptance or tolerance of these violent and gruesome things I've mentioned to contrast them to the intolerance of the sight of a peaceful woman’s uncovered bosom celebrated for it's natural beauty in an innocent setting through the visual arts. 

Why is the sight of a naked man's chest considered to be decent and not a woman's? I think there is a disparity here too in our attitude toward images. If the sight of a woman's chest is an outrage why is a man's permissible in ANY situation? I am told certain works of Leonardo Da Vinci are pornographic now because of a nipple but I see romance novel covers in the grocery store with photos of naked men climbing in bedroom windows to commit adultery-why are those considered acceptable? If images are wrong because there is a chance a man might think of sex, why are "romance" novels written glorifying vile acts of sexual betrayal for NO OTHER REASON but dirty thoughts acceptable? Why are sleazy soap operas on television available to children day and night on broadcast television with sexually explicit scenes glorifying adultery acceptable? The answer is simple- its double standard. 

        As a man, I believe that women are the brightest and loveliest of all of GOD's creations. The sight of a healthy young partially uncovered girl on television even for a split second is considered a CRISIS and we hear public outrage? Implying the human body itself is filthy; Think about it. Since the basis of this sight of a healthy human body taboo is supposed to be of Judeo-Christian religious origin, I want to debunk this outrageous doctrine that the human body is filthy. In the Bible's first book, Genesis, it says, "they were naked and were not ashamed" and it teaches us that men and women were "made in the image of GOD". To follow this line of reasoning, GOD would also have to be filthy. Case closed. I don't think what I perceive to be the crowning achievement of GOD's creation, the woman - is filthy, but is instead pure and beautiful.

What I believe to be GOD's greatest creation is considered filthy, and not people's minds?

What's wrong with this picture?

These outrageous boundaries chosen by our society are so poorly thought out that Michelangelo's statue of David is now deemed pornography and books with such immortal works of art are being removed from our public school libraries because of "politically correct" activists. I'm not suggesting that we remove these boundaries again like in the 1970's, Heaven forbid! Only that these newest ones are ill conceived and badly placed and I would personally prefer to return to the traditional ones and avoid all these extremes.

~ HD Johnson


The Johnson Galleries

Click on the Icons to visit the Thematic Galleries of Realistic Art: Including Mythology of Greece, Rome, Asia, The Norsemen, and more...Fairy and Dragon legends, The King Arthur Legends, The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, Paintings of Ancient Egypt and Babylon, Ancient Mystic Religious texts, History of War from The Ancient Spartans and the Trojan Horse to World War Two, The World's Great Religions, and Art Technique and design...Art Lessons, Celtic Mythology & Pencil Techniques display some full size art... 

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Fairy Paintings

Greek Mythology

Celtic Mythology World's Religions Norse Mythology Surreal Fantasy Art

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Art Numérique

Art Commissions

Commercial Art

History of Dragons

More Fantasy Art

Mythic Women Art
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     The various galleries linked to by the thumbnail icons in his web show many examples of HDJ's Realistic Art, and are grouped by theme rather than media. There are also sample illustrations from his  upcoming books on Celtic Myth and Legend and World Myth & Legend. Since boyhood he has passionately copied the old masters. To create his work, he usually starts with a thematic concept  followed by a rough realistic pencil sketch, then followed by his photography, often traveling to find suitable scenes and locations and then working in his Photography studio with live models from his sketches. He then assembles a variety of elements which are realistic and original. As a boy he dedicated his life to art in 1960. From 1965- 1999 he used xeroxes and tracings to make his preliminary photo montages. This is patterned after  the manner used by Maxfield Parrish and other 19th century notables. Beginning with a tracing, he then draws or paints from these complex original Computer Photo Montages. Many of these are on display on this web and slated for future completion in a variety of traditional realistic art media. As this happens, the finished work is substituted in the exhibit.

      He has built up an enormous library of original source photos to use in his realistic art.  Recently he shot hundreds of aerial photos of clouds at marvelous angles and perspectives and also looking down on the mighty mountains, rivers, and deserts of the American west while flying from Texas to Oregon and back for dynamic source material for realistic flying scenes in upcoming paintings, drawings, and pictures.  For decades he has sought out the most beautiful models and brought them in for sessions in his photography studio. Using a strategy employed by J.W. Waterhouse, the old master HDJ imitates most- see Helen of Troy ( a recognizeable tribute ) and The Messenger ( in the spirit of Waterhouse ) both featuring Grace- his wistful and graceful models cannot be underestimated in their contribution to the stunning beauty and the potential for lasting appeal of his work. Their last names are withheld to protect them from stalkers & other internet predators.

  His favourite medium for traditional realistic art is colored pencil because of the high speed and low expense, and people began expressing difficulty in telling his colored pencil drawing from photographs in the early 1980's.  In the last 35 plus years he has also mastered Oils, Pastels, Acrylics, Watercolors, Inks, Scratchboard, Gouache, Photography, and most recently, the highly controversial digital media. As a commercial illustrator Johnson has not only used the computer to create art but has been involved in the development and marketing of computer imaging software for Adobe Photoshop. Working in a realistic style inspired by classic illustrators HDJ is deeply rooted and grounded in the Greco-Roman artistic tradition, Feeling that espescially with realistic art - that  the human form is the ultimate arena for artistic expression. His lifelong dream came true when his Traditional Realistic Art was exhibited in the British Museum in London England in 1996. His mixed media has also been displayed in numerous other ones since such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Having achieved international acclaim as a traditional visual artist he discovered digital media in 1999. Because of his passion for realistic art and photography he elected to embrace it and joyfully be a part of this historic era in the visual arts as a 21st century realistic artist.

    Computers have not diminished his love of working in traditional media. He loves to draw portraits from his own photographs as well as using them to create illustrations in various media.  Click on 'The Messenger' above for more on HDJ's other public domain sources & influences he uses to create his realistic art.

   Since 1972 when he began his career as a scientific illustrator for the University of Texas he has earned his living illustrating all kinds of books, magazines, CD covers, and all sorts of games, greeting cards, calendars, portraits, murals and the like with his contemporary realistic art... HDJ's Realistic Art has appeared in every major bookstore chain and fantasy gaming shop in The United States and has been used in educational texts and magazines all over the world. This site features realistic paintings & pictures for the twenty-first Century including some oil paintings, as well as lots of other exciting realistic art media such as colored pencil drawings, pastel paintings, acrylic paintings, gouache paintings, water color paintings, and pencil drawings, and also featuring studio,  field, & aerial photography, digital painting and photo-montage and all these media mixed in an assortment of experimental combinations...Working in a wide variety of media to create his realistic art he offers his customers a host of payment and product options. He delivers the rights to these custom made copyright free realistic illustrations and old fashioned customer service when he does work-for-hire.


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Howard David Johnson is a contemporary realistic visual artist and photographer with a background in
the natural sciences and history. He works in a wide variety of realistic art media ranging from traditional
oils,  pastels and others to cutting edge digital media. He loves mixing media. His web site features
many examples of his Realistic Art, including illustration, photography, experimentalism, and fine art

He accepts select commissions to paint custom oil paintings with down payments starting at only one thousand dollars. Other media, like colored pencils or digital are of course far less expensive. He grants permission for most educational purposes simply for asking courteously. To use his existing realistic art he offers licenses for publishing starting as low as $100.00 USD.


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