If you were to look at a woman with the same intention that you have when looking at art, then you are degrading her. She is not some object for you to “enjoy” staring at even if you think it isn’t sexual. Trust me, many (if not most) women are sick to death of men trying to excuse it by saying, oh it’s just because they are so beautiful, I am just enjoying her God given beauty. Woman are more than their bodies. Ask yourself if you would enjoy looking at her tonsils for the sake of their beauty. Probably not, but why? Isn’t everything God made beautiful? (And I duly note, as the breakdown of our society continues, more and more women are degrading men in the same manner.)
So the difference is she is a real, live, breathing child of God. She is someone’s daughter, possibly mother or wife… or will become someone’s wife. The parts that make her different from man are ONLY for her spouse. Do you like looking at naked men? Unless you have same sex attraction, you will be honest with yourself and realize looking at the female form is more pleasurable because you are enjoying her sexual value. The beauty (and goodness) of the human body gives no excuse to unveil (or unwrap) a gift that does not belong to them. Reading about Fatima, Blessed Jacinta tells Mother Godinho that many people are in hell due to sins of the flesh and that certain women’s fashions would be introduced which would offend our Lady greatly. I will post again, what our Catechism teaches about modesty. There really is no getting around it. You are not to look at naked people of the opposite sex who you are not married to unless the principle of double effect comes into play.
Try to remember this, beauty of the person pertains to body AND soul. When an artist paints or sculpts a very realistic nude, he or she is just exposing the body. Period. This is what the pagans did and it is unfortunate some Catholic artists followed their path. They are not making a statement about the soul, so something is missing. What good comes from such a painting? Nothing. It is just base. The Sistine Chapel though is different. First, the nudity that is shown is actually relevant to the overall message, so it is not gratuitous. Like I said in another thread, the male genitalia is not painted in a realistic way at all, and by doing such, keeps a degree of modesty. He is naked, but you can’t really see his nakedness if that makes sense. To me, his penis looks like a fortune cookie (sorry), and even then the only reason I can say that, is because of digital imagery. Michelangelo knew his painting would be seen from afar providing another layer of modesty. It would be difficult for one to become aroused with the sexual aspect of masculinity being so downplayed.
Think of it like this: most men are sexually aroused by topless women. On one end of the scale let’s say you see a drawing of a stick figure with two circles with dots in the middle. You will immediately know the sex of that figure and that the artist is conveying a woman is topless yet one could hardly be aroused. The representation of the female form is almost symbolic. On the other end of the scale might be a sketch so realistic, your brain could see it as a photograph. This is what St Pope John Paul II refers to when he calls some art problematic in that it violates privacy. I would also note, it is not even just what is realistic, as even some cartoons can be offensive to God by their overt lasciviousness.
Going back to the beauty consisting of body and soul:
True art is an inspiration from Heaven, which elevates the soul to God; profane art, which appeals to the senses only, which presents to the eye nothing but the beauties of
flesh and blood, is but an inspiration of the evil spirit; his works, brilliant though they may be, are not works of art, and the name is falsely attributed to them. They are the
infamous productions of a corrupt imagination.
taken from here: