Geez, and I thought the naked question could get dicey sometimes. At least that is easily explained: Nudity (that’s how we describe it in art history—“naked” has, well, connotations) in Classical art means something. It means you’re probably looking at a hero, a god, or an athlete. It also was a way artists showed off the beauty of the male body, which was in their mind the most beautiful form the human body could take. Sorry, ladies—you are, in the words of an ancient Greek author, “deformed males.” Anyhow, pubic hair is another issue altogether, especially when you’re talking with a sixth grader who obviously has no idea of the pubescent horrors that await him.
Teachers accompanying school groups are always very worried that the students are going to ask about the nudity—God forbid kids should ask about what’s right in front of them. I’ve found if you answer the question matter-of-factly and don’t act shocked or scandalized, the kids don’t think much of it. Besides, I would never want to discourage a student from asking a question by making them feel as if they’ve done something wrong by asking about something they’re genuinely confused about. Just this Friday another gallery teacher got an email from a teacher about a student who had drawn a sketch of a nude on the project she had them work on in the museum. The email asked our gallery teacher if she had given the student permission to draw an anatomically correct male. Our teacher responded, saying the student was likely just drawing what he saw in the museum and yes, she had told the students to use the art they had seen as inspiration for their drawing project, although she did not specifically suggest they draw a nude. The response I think this narrow-minded educator deserved is much more to the point: