It is also really easy to make a boring or cliched portrait, landscape or nude as well. But, at the same time, it is very difficult to make a really good portrait, landscape, or nude photograph for that matter, but they do crop up from time to time and we all have our favorites. I have two answers for you Lannie, but both only bring up more questions. A nude can be art if the subject being nude is not central to the reason why the image was taken.
By this I do not mean that nudity does not enhance the image; I mean that the nudity is not the image itself. As an example, I'm citing Titian's Venus of Urbino, which is a painting done in While the subject is nude, the painting would have been successful if she were not nude, as it is artfully posed and executed. Also there is Robert Mappelthorpe's Three Nudes, in which the fact that the figures are nude allows us to see their musculature and the tonalities in their skin which we would not see were they clothed.
Also, depending on your perspective, Three Nudes can also be a statement on racial equality, or on the power of women over men, as the black and white male figures seem to be fighting albeit passively over a female. But again, it would still be a photograph worth taking if the subjects were clothed.
By contrast, pornography is entirely about the nudity. If everyone in a porno mag put their pants back on, Hugh Hefner would be out of business. Thus, pornography is not art. Pornography can be artistic , and some photographers straddle heh heh that line very well. But if the entire reason you're taking a photo is to say, "Hey, look at her bits," then it's not artistic. The question that asks is whre is the line? Some of Mappelthorpe's other work which I won't link to here is very much about the sex and the nudity, often showing very graphic sexual acts.
Arguments can be made that this too is art, but it gets into an entirely different class of discussion than what I suspect you meant to bring up. Almost thirty years after he first made waves, we still haven't hashed that one out. Someone else mentioned 'failed art. Personally, I don't see any artistic merit in the image that you posted of the nude on the bench.
I think that it would be an equally good photo if the girl were not nude thus not pornography , but I don't think that the nudity adds anything. I feel that she is nude for the sake of being nude. Since her nudity doesn't add anything to me anyway , I would call this bad nude art. I feel the image of the two nude women walking in the field benefits very much from the nudity, as it creates a greater feeling of nature, and these women's connection to the Earth. And again, we have the arbitrary line.
If she were nude in public would it be art, or pornography? Which brings us the answer number two It doesn't advance the conversation any, but it does explain a lot. Since human beings are more complicated and irrational than machines, and often operate not on programming but on previous sometimes negative experiences, it's not always possible to predict that Image X will yield Response Y.
Because of that, ANY rule that states what is and is not art or pornography will have a list of exceptions a mile long. No one - not even a panel of experts - can produce an answer that is argument-proof. I feel that my answer is very good, but I will be the first to admit that where I draw the line is not where you may draw the line.
Here are a couple of "artistic" nudes that have a little more oomph than those Lannie has linked to IMO. They are more physical, more narrative, they are sensual and there are sexual impulses I get from them as well. Yet they are loosely in the genre of nude study or classically nude figures. Here are two. Not as pretty, or as safe, a little more gritty, maybe more "trashy," the second obviously more sexual.
Every bit as much art, IMO. Sometimes, it's a matter of excellent craft combined with breaking new ground that elevates to the level of art what might otherwise be considered pornography. Consider Mapplethorpe. In short, art nudes don't have anything particular in common, just as art doesn't. They are certainly not defined as lacking trashiness or as somehow elevating the human form.
Art, IMO, is best not understood as a classification with particular qualities. Its definitions are more like a web of overlapping and disappearing and reappearing ideas, creators or perpetrators, and audiences rather than anything singular. It's not completely subjective and it's not anything you want it to be. Generations have loosely understood what art is and what things are art and that couldn't happen if there weren't a good amount of objectivity to it and often some sort of public recognition of it, if not in its own time then at some later date.
Fine Art Nude Photography
Art and the photographic nude also evolve, so amy supposed definition would have to leave room for the unknown or as yet undiscovered, which means no definition can be complete or certain. Well, we're talking about nudes and photography, so if we have done some nudes we might as well share them here.
I have been taking pictures for over 40 years, and I have purposely avoided doing nudes as a main theme, probably because I didn't think I could add artistically to what has already been done. However, I have done a few nudes from time to time, and I did post a couple of them here on pnet. I don't know. For me they are. Further tensions: face not the head vs body eyes vs mouths force vs choice glory [the Greeks, for example] vs shame How is your gaze being handled? Julie H , Jul 28, Julie, great comparison! And, it also seems that in a lot of religions, the object of worship tends to be mostly disrobed Alan, is that picture real?
No photoshop? How is your gaze being handled? Landrum Kelly , Jul 28, Yet, even the worshipful gaze can be threatening. Perhaps you just want to devour me. What is the point of the nude, anyway? Why are there so many female nudes? Why are there so many male photographers? Are men naturally watchers? Are women naturally those who are being watched? Lannie, I would have the say that the groping of the nun by the Roman soldier represents the violation of the Christian faith by the Romans.
It is used to take a religious theme The Cruxifiction and turn it into a social one, without breaking the rules of what could and could not be shown at the time. Since there weren't actually any nuns then and not even the most fanatical Christian could believe that monastaries and nunneries were built and clothing designed and made en masse in the few years Christ was teaching His message , it's pretty clear that the nun is meant to be symbolic.
Also, do keep in mind that the use of the nude as a worship figure in classical work very rarely has anything to do with the actual nude. In many Western societies, nudity is in this context a symbol of purity and innocence. Think back to Exodus; God knew that Adam and Even had eaten from the Tree of Life because they had covered up their bodies, and were no longer nude. The Gaels often fought nude or nearly nude for the same reason.
It stands to reason that if they are pure, they will be pure in battle. Of course they were destroyed by Romans wearing armour, but you get the point When you look at Botticelli's Venus, her nudity is not meant to convery sexuality. If it were supposed to be sexual, her hands would not be covering her naughty bits, and there would not be cherubs preparing to drape her with a cloth. In this case, at least, nudity again represents purity and innocence.
Julie's statement is based on a Postmodern view of nudes in artwork, while mine is based on a Classical one. Until around the 's, the viewer had nothing to do with the art. Thank you, Zack, for a very profound response. One knows that, when one posts a serious question on the web, one is likely to get any number of inane responses.
One typically gets at best a handful of truly enlightening responses from enlightened respondents who bring even more to the discussion than I could possibly have hoped for or even anticipated--and who always see far more than I do. I had not quite thought of counterpoising the post-modern to the classical, which does indeed give a new perspective on post-modern thought. I just happened to be reading Lacan when I thought to look to see who might have posted in response. Thanks to Julie as well for opening this kind of discussion with her sometimes cryptic posts--and thanks to Fred and Luis and others who always redeem these threads with their contributions.
And, Zack, your portfolio is absolutely astonishing! The internet had not been around that long for most of us at that time, and the most profound thing I had done on the web during the mid-nineties was to engage in an online forum on Augustine's theory of the nature of temptation and the forbidden. The theme of the forbidden is with us still.
On a similar note from darkroom work The eye goes first to the area of highest contrast. Would that have anything to do with nudes as art..? Thank you, Indraneel! I had been thinking of context all morning as I tried to grapple with Lacan's concept of "the gaze. Would that have anything to do with nudes as art?
I am not sure that i follow you here, Indraneel. Thank you, Indraneel. I understand now. Yes, surely it is the unexpected that always brings us up short, that catches our breath. If we witnessed not only nude photographs but nude persons every day in the course of our daily activities, I daresay that we would not even be having this conversation. Sorry, I made a stupid "Wittgenstein's example" mistake..!
It will be.. Can it be , not so, in distant "life" forms on faraway planets When you look at Botticelli's Venus, her nudity is not meant to convery sexuality. Norma Desmond , Jul 28, The gender of the functionary doing the surveillance work would not affect my perceptions here. At what point does a nude become profane? What does one have with such photos if one takes away the titles? I read these forums 5 days a week during lunch. I have not contributed to the discussions in the past. This one, however, interests me. I have worked as a professional photographer off and on since I must state I have seen many thousands of nude images within photo.
I can honestly say I have never felt any sexual response from any of the images I have observed. I will say there have been several, by a select few photographers, that totally turn me away from wishing to see any of their images. I think one mans art is easily another mans pornography. The culture within the US teaches our children to be ashamed of nudity, to hide it. Yet as with most things you try to make taboo, that just increase the desire to see the nudity.
I personally believe the European philosophy towards nudity is much healthier for creating stable mature human beings. If, as some believe, life came out of the primordial ooze and evolved to the point where some specie divided itself into the two sexes and then one had to be attracted to the other in order to survive. So somewhere in that evolutionary process that attraction was genetically implanted. That implantation grew somewhere along the line to sexual attraction among various species including us.
I think women are attractive clad or unclad. I like nudes because I get to see more of what is attractive and that is not purely in a sexual way but some people clothed or unclothed are just nice to look particularly through the view finder of my camera and I like the persons in my photographs. I used to fall in love with my brides for a day when I did weddings. I think this is because I have certain genes implanted somewhere in my cerebral cortex that makes me think our species is attractive. My cat has different genes and she likes other cats, I believe. I still think of myself as an animal with visceral urges that are not a product of my conscious mind and that I don't truly understand.
They are just there. Looking at a parade of nudes in PN does little for me. They don't seem real. I like real walking, talking people. What I am saying is I don't really know sometimes what drives me to react, whatever it is it just does. I don't really have to explain myself or explain human reactions I just have to live with them and keep them under some civilized modicum of control while at the same time taking solace and sometimes joy in looking at others no matter what their state of dress.
DickArnold , Jul 28, Is "in-your-face"sexuality profane? Is pornography profane? My answer to both these questions is "no. I don't think of sexuality in terms of profanity. I enjoy pornography when I'm in the mood. It's fun, titillating, can supply a nice release, and can be entertaining. Sure, there's a difference between porn and art and some overlap. As to the so-called maybe profane photos Lannie just linked to, I wouldn't give them much thought and don't think much about when the nude becomes profane.
If Lannie thinks they are profane or thinks there are profane nudes, it would be interesting to hear more than the label. It would be interesting to hear his thoughts on why profanity comes up for him regarding this subject and what profanity related to nudity is, or what it's at least close to or about even in general terms. To me, violence is profane. Poverty is profane. Homelessness is profane. Theft is profane.
Hypocrisy is profane. Nudity, not so much. Nor is sexuality profane unless it is in some way abusive. That might more help to explain some things, including the popularity of the nudes section of PN. I hate posting in the evening because I'm tired and I don't have time, but I have to straighten Lannie out before he goes too far with the "male domination" theme. You wish, Lannie In civilized or safe settings, I'd say it's more of an evenly matched power struggle. Women know how to arm themselves, to apply suitable war paint, tactics, strategies To have almost given herself, without defense, to the viewer.
That's unusual with or without overt sexuality. Usually the woman is "presenting" in posture, in expression, in I hope you'll stay with this forum. And it was Potter Stewart who knew it when he saw it not the brightest bulb in the court, but, oh never mind I digress. I have more questions than answers Can you provide a more detailed definition of "Trashy Nude", 1. Can "trashy" be a genre or art, or by definition cannot be called art.
Is it a pictorial representation of a human treated as an object rather than as a human, or in a harmful way 3. If the subject is portrayed as "trashy" and is apparently treated as an object or in an apparent harmful way, for the purpose to portray how humans can treat others as objects or how they can harm others, would this be art? Is it simply the viewers reaction to the creation? Is it the creators view of the image - I suspect many creaters or images "pornographic" magazine consider themselves artists, 6. If a group of people and the creator agreed that an image was trashy, not art.
If Salvador Dali did semi realistic painting of the image, could it suddenly become art? Don, since there seems to be no objective standards on such matters, I would have to say that the "trashy nude" is in the eye of the beholder. That said, I think that I do indeed know it when I see it. A long shot from art, but our art can only exist, if we exist.
Something with close ties to our existence and survival is surely going to wreak havoc about our ideas of art in a related field Spock: to McCoy Doctor, I am emotionally compromised and no longer fit for command In our alienated, ever more compartmentalized, covered, concealed, protected, wary Because women for men are so especially out of reach, one is especially curious about what they're like as compared to what your own fleshly experience is like. I'm just guessing, but when reading several posts above that say things like, "I have never felt any sexual response from any of the images I have observed.
If I've had any sexual response to Coplans, you'd need a nano-detector to find it -- but I love these photos because I get to look and look -- in an empathetic, sympathetic, but also sometimes a "good grief! In this context, sex and sexual arousal are precisely the problem. They are what prevent one from looking, touching, exploring those living people all around you but ever at a distance and covered and defended about whom you are curious. Thus the non-sexual enjoyment of nudes in photographs or other kinds of art.
My entry in the "what's a trashy nude? Julie H , Jul 29, This makes the viewer unhappy. I'm gathering from the discussion that a nude in a photograph isn't experienced by the viewer as art when it violates the viewer's sensibilities somehow. It may nevertheless be art though, and I'm looking for a definte definition of art, and am beginning to suspect that there isn't one. I say it may nevertheless be art because I've found that a nude photograph that may have originally touched my sensibilites the wrong way, upon self-reflection, no longer did so: and I'm then more comfortable with myself for the inner process.
I understand from all the above that there are contexts in the creation and in the viewing. Seems very natural though obviously it isn't for being conceptualized and posed. First off, I want to thank you Lannie. Both for the compliment, and for starting this thread. I'm starting an MFA in photography program in Monday believe it or not, and I have been extremely worried about it. The chair basically told me, "We put you in because of your work ethic, and because you're different more commercial, it seems than your classmates. Thank you. Fred, I do think The Birth of Venus is sexual.
Thanks for reminding me that italics exist, btw. However, I think the innocence trumps the sexuality. To me, the fact that she is about to be covered up tells me that she's not overly concerned about it herself. Sure she's covering her bits, but she doesn't look like she's overly bothered about the whole thing.
She's not covering herself with clothing or with a fig leaf or any other object than what God or Zeus? What's the Roman version of Zeus again? I think that societally, Venus is covering herself because she needs to. Venus herself doesn't need to of course, but if Botticelli doesn't want to be burned alive he needs her to cover herself. I think you are totally correct in that innocence, like yin, cannot exist without at least the implication of sexuality, its yang.
Where we disagree though is that I feel that the yin in this image is walking all over the yang, which is basically there because it has to be. But again, that argument depends on arbitrarily drawn line. And thanks, Julie, for pointing our Mr. Stewart as the judge who 'knows it when he sees it.
Smith goes to Washington right now, but no matter Lannie, objectification has become and extremely hard thing to pin down in the last few years. Really, ever since the idea of Postmodern thinking. In the s, if you bought a picture of a naked lady, she was being objectified. There was really no other way of looking at it. But today, if you buy a girlie mag, the subject knows she is being objectified. More importantly, those who do porn may be doing it because they see it as a way to make a living, and not a last-ditch effort to get into showbiz.
I forget the title, but Netflix has a very interesting documentary by Michael Grecco on pornstars. Some of these women do porn because they know they can be paid for, essentially, being extremely good-looking. I would argue that in a Postmodern society, those women are not being objectified. If anything, the dudes that pay them, buy their magazines and DVDs, or whatnot are the ones being objectified.
Don, 'trashy art' is not a line I am prepared to draw. Personally, I don't feel Ed Hardy or the dirtier parts of Mappelthorpe's catalog is 'fine art. I really like Banksy, and I wouldn't call his work 'fine art' either. To me though, the word 'fine' implies a distinction. To me, 'art' is subective, and can be argued. This distiction is only for myself and my own thought process though. Kevin mentioned his own experiences, and I think it's only fair that I should mention mine, since thay have so much to do with my opinions. I very rarely shoot nudes - in fact, I have only shot four women nude whom I was not 'intimate' with.
And really, only two of those women were actually supposed to be nude; the other two had a nipple slip or somesuch in there somewhere, and we just sort of went with it. Personally, I always get nervous and blushy when I shoot nudes. I didn't realize my upbringing was so waspy until a few years ago, but this explains it.
This is probably why I have difficulty shooting women nude that I'm not already 'intimate' with. Looking at my photos, I see that even the women I wasn't intimate with that were relaxed and confident about taking off their clothing do not appear as relaxed in most of the images as the ones that I was intimate with. It's obvious that here, the photographer's perspective influences the final result as much as the posing and lighting do. Also, in reviewing my post, I see more waspiness.
I went way to far to avoid using the term 'having sex. Landrum Kelly , Jul 29, Thank you for the kind words, Zach. I hope that your MFA goes well. Unless you run into some kind of control freak, you will probably be quite happy and productive. Graduate schools are typically full of prima donnas, but they can usually be endured or avoided to some extent.
Control freaks who want to make their vision your vision can be a lot more difficult to deal with. Try to stay civil, as I had a hard time doing upon going back to grad school at the age of fifty-four in a very different field from my earlier graduate studies. I never got my M. I am sure that I could have handled it all better, but it is just as well that I finally just took what I learned from the program and went back to what I had been teaching since the s. I was richer as a result of having been in the program, and how many letters does one need after one's name, after all?
Sour grapes? Maybe, but I am okay with the outcome now, years later. On another note, in responding to Fred, you said that "I think you are totally correct in that innocence, like yin, cannot exist without at least the implication of sexuality, its yang. Perhaps that is the legacy of the Genesis account of the beginnings of human shame: being aware that they were naked made Adam and Eve feel ashamed, so the story goes, and so they had to leave Eden.
Even as allegory, the account is not without its difficulties. Its legacy lives on nonetheless. How it got tangled up with sexuality is still beyond me, unless that is what it was about all along. As for the larger question of "what makes a nude art" I think it's largely in how UNimportant any erotic or sexual appeal of the subject being nude is to the overall work. It's much more how the shape and shading of the body interact with the lighting, the background, and maybe to some extend how jarring the juxtaposition of the nude subject is when related to the setting or action going on in the rest of the picture.
I am not saying that an adolescent seeing such a nude for the first time would be indifferent to the display of body parts, nor that I always would in all possible moods, but the display of the naked form certainly can be done in such a way that the fact that the model is naked seems almost irrelevant.
Norma Desmond , Jul 29, I appreciate Julie's addition of curiosity as a motivating factor. I hadn't really thought about that and it seems quite pertinent. I'll add that it's not only about what's out of reach. Men's bodies are within reach to me and I still enjoy and employ that curiosity I think Julie is getting at, though it may be somewhat different than the dynamic between males and females.
I've often thought of doing a series exploring whether there would be a difference in how I might handle gay male nudes and how I might handle straight male nudes, which might deal to some extent with a kind of out-of-reachness. I also empathize with Julie's not feeling particularly sexually aroused by the photos of Coplans. My reaction to nudes is often not sexual as well, or at least not as overtly or decidedly sexual. At the same time, I have photographed men over 60 where the sexual component was very much at play for the photographing and I think many viewers would feel that as well.
What's great about photographing is the myriad of possibilities to explore even with the same subjects or subject matter. I am much more into exploring those possibilities than assuming certain limitations to what's "art," be it a nude body or a chair or a landscape. Fred, I think that you are right in much of what you say, and I am not even sure that we should except in jest refer to certain body parts as "naughty bits. If so, why? I still find it to be the case, however, that the most powerful nudes for me have typically not been the most explicit ones, for whatever reason.
The most erotic views of women are also for me those in which the woman is still clothed. This implies to me that covering them up to varying degrees does nothing quite so much as whet our appetites all the more--nor is that necessarily a bad thing.
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Curiosity does indeed drive us, but we also can be intrigued perhaps energized by a sense of mystery, even modesty. I do not want to overstate the case, nor do I want to deny the erotic content of many powerful and artistic nudes. I simply want to clarify my own position somewhat. As for the element of forgetfulness as to either what one is seeing or what one is showing , I have always been intrigued by the naturists and their own curious attempts to one presumes capture "lost innocence. What does it mean in this context? There is what one might even call the genre of "naturist art," which is usually composed of a group of snapshots and would therefore be dreadful art at best; but the viewing of such snaps nonetheless might give some limited insight on these matters.
All of this suggests to me that, whatever evils may derive from lustful and sexual behaviors and I shall not try to catalog them here , those evils probably do not derive from nudity per se. Nor are those evil propensities banished by draping ourselves very modestly from head to toe. One might even infer correctly or incorrectly that there is nothing inherently evil in the public display of the body, whether formally in art or informally in play on the beach.
Perhaps I am mistaken on this point, but one gets the sense that "nurture" has completely won out over "nature" on this one--and that we just might be the worse for it. I have noticed that the indigenous tribes of the Amazon rainforest have stable relationships and family structures in spite of their lack of clothing--and they are not promiscuous, either. Is there a lesson there for those of us who are presumably more "civilized"? Perhaps a line from a song from the Woodstock generation conveys the aspiration to be free of sexual guilt as manifested in its symptoms through the making of more and more rules governing nudity and sexuality : "We have got to get ourselves back to the Garden.
I have no idea except to say that there is perhaps a reason that raising these issues or linking to nude pictures disturbs some persons: society as we know it does indeed seem to be threatened by the open airing of these issues. I am not sure why. I am not sure that the given order is so sacred or perfect that I am deeply troubled by the prospect of such an eventuality as its final but gradual and peaceful demise. If, on the other hand, a degree of romanticism is to be our redemption, in both our personal relationships and in derivative social institutions, then perhaps clothes perform a subtle psychological function that I do not fully understand.
I am still not sure that I want my beloved to go traipsing around naked on the beach, much less on city streets, but is that a reflection of the moral impulse, or mere possessiveness and insecurity? I really am not sure, although I was sure and very insecure when I was twenty years old--and I did love her, and the thought of others seeing her was horrifying. Have I lost something? Have I gained something? I have heard it said that the fact that a person thinks about something a great deal indicates that he or she is disturbed by it.
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So maybe I am just disturbed! If so, let it be noted that I am still unashamed, and I am not yet to the point of Mark Vonnegut that I am running around the block naked to free myself from the shackles of our Puritan capitalist order, as Mark reports having done during his bouts of total insanity near the end of his magnificent autobiography, The Eden Express. In any case, I do not apologize that this issue disturbs me--as an intellectual issue, of course.
Ninety-five plus percent of my writings is about politics and ethics--and especially about violence and its alternatives. Now, there violence! My response to that disturbance has been to write my own inadequate tract on pacifism. I am not quite prepared to offer my own naturist manifesto, if only because I think that the naturists see only part of the truth. Clothes do, I think, perform a social function apart from hygiene and protection from the elements.
Besides, one thing that continues to enthrall me more than seeing my beloved undraped is process of undraping her myself--from which I infer the paradoxical conclusion that clothes might actually heighten our sense of sexuality, as well as our moral sensibilities regarding sexuality. I really am not at all sure, but there is something mysterious at work here in the way that the mind functions in all issues relating to sexuality and nudity. In any case, please forgive this extended digression into general social theory.
I simply think that the answers are ultimately to be found in relating our responses to the nude as an art form to our responses to sexuality and nudity in culture. In spite of the many words above, I must finally join Socrates near the end of his life and admit that I know nothing. This is considerd to be wicked in many cultures and can lead to loose sex without commitement from either partner. The word generally used for such acts is "lust".
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Once we started wearing clothes and religion became a major influence.. In some cultures the dispay of an ankle can be considered a naughty bit which can lead to lustful desires. Nudes like any other type of photography if it's done with talent can reach a place which transends into what we call Art. Interestingly, there was a nude bike ride through London which after a few cursory glances most folks just ignored. Allen Herbert , Jul 29, Yes, the display of the ankle was considered indecent around the turn of the twentieth century.
Upper arms of women are not displayed in some cultures. In other cultures the entire face must be covered except for slits for the eyes. I guess that means that a nose poking through the wrong hole in the garment would be considered a "naughty bit. The entire body or parts thereof can be an erogenous zone. Some female paraplegics report orgasms, even though they cannot detect stimulation of their genitalia. One theory "implicates" the vagus nerve as the link to the brain in such cases, but the source and nature of the stimulus are not so easily located, nor always the same.
Even "lust" or, more precisely, what evokes lust is largely contextual. It seems clear enough to me that convention and concomitant cultural socialization or "nurture" has trumped nature where the issue of what is considered suggestive or lust-inducing is concerned. It seems to be thereby fruitless to try to define which parts of the body are inherently indecent or "naughty.
Lust is a matter of the heart and soul, not just the body, and so the only successful approach to its regulation is self-control involving certain norms of behavior which the individual internalizes for himself or herself. Attempts to impose these norms through external devices and extrinsic incentives are largely ineffectual. Has anyone considered in the discussions so far - to which I have paid only moderate attention a well worn road.. I think we usually react sexually as well as aesthetically as well as repugnantly in some cases to the bodies of others, in proportions that vary quite a bit, whether the person is known or unknown to us, and I see no controversy or mystery in that.
On the other hand, a successful nude is difficult to come by, just like a successful portrait is also no easy task. There is always something missing for the viewer, if only because we have highly subjective views of what we want to see in another and in ourselves , especially when we go beyond the sexual thought to the aesthetic one or one which communicates to us as very specific individuals. We seem to agree more about what constitutes a powerful photojournalistic image or landscape or mood image. Why are there so few nude images of men. But that field is mainly empty for a large part of the population.
Nudes are often less suggestive in a sexual sense than the clothed human, as we are able to imagine what is not shown. Nudes can have as much or more potential in an aesthetic presentation, as clothing does not interfere with the form of the body. It is usually easier to show the different faces of a building or inanimate object than a nude body, because we are not faced with as highly charged a reaction of the viewer, or the captivity of the photographer. Maybe if animals could photograph humans we might start to see ourselves in a less subjective or perceptually flawed sense?
Maybe not much food for thought, and no doubt uncorrected orthography in all its nudity , but I have to get out to a r-v with some friends. I hope this will add to the main discussion. According to various parts of the bible and my apologies for not knowing passages, or even which Testamentl I've familiar, but not an expert the reproductive organs are only for reproduction.
We are to go forth and be fruitful, but we are not supposed to enjoy it. If sex was a universally unenjoyable event, I don't think that genitalia would be seen as even remotely taboo in any culture. Before eating from the Tree of Life, Adam and Eve obviously knew that had genitals. They may or may not have known that they were for reproduction, but they knew they were there. In eating from the Tree of Life, one of the things learned was the physiological role of genitals: pleasure.
In learning this, Adam and Even also learned that these parts were 'special. I don't think any one of these is a bad argument, or is better than the others. But for a non-religious version, look at children. Young children, even those old enough to know that boys have a penis and girls have a vagina, have no trouble being naked. Little girls like to lift their dresses, and little boys are oddly fast at removing their shoes and pants.
I don't know if children do this outside of the West, but it sure as hell happens here. As children get older though, and begin to explore their bodies, that behaviour changes. They may not yet understand the concept of sex or masturbation, but they stop getting naked in public around the same time that they learn that 'that tickles,' and little boys stop taking off their shirts at every opportunity right around then too. Sure there are a LOT of guys that still walk around shirtless in the summer, but they stop trying to take off their shirts and, more symbolically, their shoes every time you turn around at about that point.
To bring it back around, this is why I say that sexuality is the opposite of innocence. I think that other things can be the opposite of innocence too, but that is how I define sexuality. I think that, at least on a Freudian level, a good deal of other acts are the result of our sexual urges. Violence can be a result of hatred, but it can also be a subconsious acting-out of one person's desire to prove he his better than another, and thus a more suitable mate. Men, ask yourself this: have you ever thought, "Man, I'd love to kick his smug ass right in front of his girlfriend"?
This is sexual violence. You may not be sexually interested in the girlfriend at all, but it is sexual in that you would be beating up on this guy to show that he is a weaker man, and thus a worse mate than you are. If you really weren't interested in his girlfriend, you might even hope she got a little rise out of it so that you could snub her. I'm not above admitting that I was in that exact situation a few years back. I had a messy breakup, and bumped into the ex and her new fling at a bar.
He had a few drinks in him, and was pushing me around and telling me how she was his now. Thankfully I was with my own new fling at the time and she wasn't even remotely cool with fighting, because I'm honestly not sure I could have taken him. He was pretty drunk, but he was also a lot bigger than me I hope these examples illuminate why - to me at least - innocence and sexuality are like yin and yang. I also want to agree with Julie on a point: I also think that some clothing is often more sexually alluring lustful than no clothing.
From an evolutionary standpoint, human beings, both male and female, are hunters. We are also pack animals, and pack animals seek dominance over others to be alpha. A sexually suggestive clothed figure provides some element of the hunt or the chase; something that must be conquered. A nude figure provides none of that. From a non-evolutionary standpoint, a cothed figure also provides more mystique. As anyone who has dated for any length of time can tell you, we've all had at least one instance were we were attracted to someone, we got their clothes off, and If he has a beer belly, or if she's too skinny, then that's just the way it is.
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Arthur, since we cannot seem to deduce what makes for a truly artistic nude, perhaps we would do well to proceed inductively: find some truly artistic nudes and do some serious analysis into what makes them great--in the same way that nude paintings or sculpture have been analyzed. Something like that is ostensibly what is being done on the photo forums, but, if so, then it is not typically being done very well. One more likely gets "Well done! Even so, if we did pursue an inductive approach, I believe that we would find that examples offered as ostensibly "great artistic nudes" would likely involve quite a range of styles as well as quite a range of erotic content.
In other words, though I have spent a lot of time trying to establish that the nude form is not considered inherently sexual across all cultures more precisely, not to the same degree in all cultures , the appeal of the nude for most persons is admittedly linked to the erotic content. That is for me a simple but obvious admission that most persons do not view nudes for their artistic value, but solely for their erotic content. This realization is a bit disconcerting to me, even if it is obvious, since the last thing that I wanted to do was to start a thread that might come to be an analysis of what makes for "artistic porn " I am sickened by that very thought, although I do not doubt that the best sellers of soft porn on the web have tried to come up with some formula for doing precisely that--make porn more interesting and beautiful and therefore more enticing, under the rubric of being more "wholesome" and less pornographic.
It is yet porn, in spite of the superficial makeover. When one considers that the etymology for "porn" is closely related to the ancient Greek biblical concept of porneia , the word for illicit or even evil sexual behavior, one wants to distance oneself from both the material and label increasingly given to it. As for your point about male nudes, I think that we are not likely to see much change there due to the fact that eros and aesthetics appear to be strongly related where appreciation of the human form is concerned--even when we are not conscious of it.
This observation would apply to the covered or dressed figure, not only the nude one. Therefore we can probably expect most males not to be too interested in photographs of males, even though we all acknowledge that a pure appreciation of light and form would surely make it possible to appreciate the beauty of a form for which we feel no sexual attraction.
I keep thinking that Luis G. I actually think that there is much more to be said, but, given my own inadequate background in photographic art history, I am coming up pretty dry at this point. I'm noticing something. This discussion gets progressively more and more academic and intellectual. Not that there's anything wrong with that if that's the direction desired.
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The original question was a photographic one, however. What makes the nude photograph "art"? It might be worthwhile to consider actual photographic qualities and mechanisms that we use when working with nude subjects. The rest is certainly of interest, but also feels like a safe escape from a tough photographic subject. I'll work the Greeks in here, since male nudity has been mentioned. They were much more open both to homosexuality and to images and statues of nude men.
What's up with that? But that question is likely fodder for a Classics or Ancient Philosophy class. It's kind of been the default in many ways. It's one of the reasons I resist going in that direction in my own work, and when I have gone in that direction I do it with an awareness, I hope. I am conscious of working with social commentary relative to male bodies particularly aging ones as well. So, a very short answer to the original question about what makes a nude photograph art is understanding and absorbing but also going beyond the default or traditional approach.
I think that works for other subjects like landscapes and houses and portraits as well. There are many more photographic considerations to working with nudes, of course. I just thought I'd start a photographic ball rolling with something from my own experience of working with male nudes. My mind goes to intimacy. We have such an intimate relationship with our own and others' bodies that its uniqueness and fascination for us makes sense.
Which leads me to another photographic question? If we do feel an intimacy with the human body, how do we photograph that or convey or establish that in a photograph? That might help answer Lannie's question as well.
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What photographic mechanisms can we use to express this intimacy we feel? Do you really expect some to admit they liked the lighting and composition in "Vampire Sorority Babes" or "Attack of the Coed Cannibals"? Lannie, we probably shouldn't dismiss the female reaction to nudes female or male as they are an equally important part of the viewing audience. If I'm not mistaken, you referred mainly to the male reaction to male nudes.
Some of the best photographers of the female nude are women. I find it hard sometimes to separate erotic and aesthetic messages, as often the artistic nude cannot be fully appreciated fully without triggering some small or miore important erotic reaction in the viewer.
That is far from being porn in my mind, and just a normal human response. The way we view seems to depend upon national cultural and micro-cultural various groups within a nation outlooks, as well as trodden historical traditions. It may not be a good example, but women breast feeding in public of babies in many European countries rarely receives any negative reaction, and is considered quite everyday and normal, whereas the chance of a negative public reaction is more pronounced in my own overall culture Canada and I would imagine also in the US.
That perception of nudity which may have an effect on how some look at our own bodies, and whether that may have an effect or not in seeing the human body in an artistic image. Fred, I feel you are right in suggesting that context can be very important story-telling, symbolism, intimateness, fantasy, etc. We seem to have set up some paradigms of vision that seem to control our approach to that - can effectively approach the photographing of that with which we are so involved, is capable of opening up an interesting avenue of discussion.
Edward Muggeridge I realize his name is wrongly spelt here investigated the human body in locomotion, using multiple photographs, and while his work is informative, often elegant, it is academic and possibly mostly not meant as artistic statements. But he did one thing that we should be able to do, given our intimacy with our own bodies.
He looked at the human body in a way that had not been done before. How many nudes are photographed directly above and looking down? Could that work in terms of some context of emotion, symbolism, interaction with other subject matter, etc.? Or the opposite angle, below, using a Brandtian deformation of perspective? What for, one may ask? That is just part of the equation to develop, of course, and to confirm in an artistic rather than mechanistic sense.
The familiarity with one's body should really allow us some insight into novel ways of repreesenting it, and its surroundings, that might confer on the image some artistic quality. One doesn't need to go to extremes, of course. Some of the younger Weston's Cole?
Common but effectively used positions of the human body, quite remote from a more static Playboy centerfold. Knowing our bodies well should allow us the freedom to attempt novel approaches to exploring their beauty or mystery, interacting in novel ways with other subject matter to heighten the overall visual communication. The high percentage of banal photographs of nudes possibly suggests that we are either imprisoned by our inflexible viewpoints or too close to our subject matter to wish to think creatively about it, rather than applying either classical or more contemporary but too well trodden approaches.
A part of what is art is its uniqueness. Arthur Plumpton , Jul 30, ; a. Common but effectively used positions of the human body, quite remote from a more static Playboy centerfold Arthur, I meant to add also that I do not consider the undraped human form to be inherently indecent in the least--except by reference to existing cultural norms. In any case, the scantily clad figure is often much more titillating than the totally nude form, in my opinion.
In other words, our common criteria for adjudging this or that mode of dress as decent or indecent have been remarkably arbitrary--and both historically and culturally relative, in my opinion. Even so, I do believe that we might be into some complicated psychological territory here, and I reserve the right to change my mind. I am also aware that my writings earlier this evening might not have been totally consistent with what I have written before. I am still searching about to find a coherent view that is defensible. Tomorrow I hope to relate all of this back to Zack's view about a possible genetic basis for shame.
If there is such a genetic basis, it certainly requires at the very least reflexive rationality and concomitant self-consciousness. How far it goes beyond that I do not know, but surely the fact that we do not have very much shame about the body before puberty suggests the possibility of some kind of continuing psycho-social development in the brain and in human behavior, moral sentiments, etc. This is all very tortuous and treacherous philosophical territory, however, in my opinion.
You're right, of course, Fred. I made some hasty and inaccurate generalizations. What you have said is much more nearly defensible, I sincerely believe. As for gay and straight, I am quite certain that nothing is at all cut and dried where sexual orientation is concerned, and especially where women are concerned from what I am told.
I am no expert on such matters, of course, although finding out that my daughter was gay has impelled me to want to inquire into these issues in greater depth--as well as to be more careful about my pronouncements. The qoute within her text is taken from an essay by Iris M. I tried to call the examiner listed on the patent, Michael A. Brown, but he has left the U. Patent and Trade Office. And who can blame him. Julie H , Jul 30, When looking at a photograph of a sculpture of the Arcadian goat-god of lust Pan having sex with a goat [ Pan and Goat from the Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum, Roman 1st century C.
Yes, his face does seem to be correspondingly expressive. The goat has a rather resigned look on its face. When looking at Peter Hujar's Bruce de Saint Croix, , in which the nude Bruce is seated, relaxed, in a hard backed chair holding his absolutely mammoth, erect penis in his right hand, I first admire the penis but I look to Bruce's face before reaching any conclusions about the pornographic sexuality of the picture.
Bruce's face looks calm, contemplative if possibly just a wee bit pleased or perhaps contented with his physical lot? He does not look lustful. Though, as my eye then moves to his hands, the left hand, which is laid almost sacrementally on his abdomen, suggests a certain tension The original question was a photographic one. Landrum Kelly , Jul 30, To be certain no one mistakes your nude photo for anything else but ART follow simple rules.
Be sure the photos are in Black and White, model should be a nude woman. The two often go together, although I think that most successful art nudes make lesser play on one's sexual response or sexual attraction, but highlight the aesthetics of the form or of the interaction of the human form with other compatible smooth rounded rocks, for instance or tension creating elements jagged rocks, or surfaces with textures that are opposite to the body , animals, that can also suggest other things story-telling, symbolism that add to the art.
Was it Lannie who mentioned shame, or Zack, or someone else? I feel it is much less a question of genetics and more a question of cultural attribute. Had I been brought up in a family where at home the parents and children live together nude I might have more an attitude similar to those of some remote and beautiful African tribal villages where that is also the norm within the confines of their "house" for them, village. But I wasn't. On the other hand, I don't belong to some sects or even quite widely spread cultural groups that feel shamed at seeing the human body nude.
That is at least partly liberating, as it means little impediment is there to seeing the real person, or their form, or in creating a vision suggestive of art, contrary to just some shameful sight. A bit like the breast-feeding example I mentioned. More attention can be given to the subject, with little interacting psychological baggage to affect that perception. Beauty is in the imagination as well as in an objective visual perception of human form. As a 17 year old, I worked one summer in an office in Toronto where the current female dress fashion was a sort of very loose fitting but completely covering type of dress, that only suggested but did not fully describe the body of the wearer.
This was as stimulating if not more so than a close fitting apparel for adolescent sexual impulses and also close to being an art perception of form, as the actual form of the wearer was only occasionally and subtly exposed to the office view. I think it could be argued that the appearance of the clothed body could be as effective in an image of intended artistic content, as that of a nude body. Sexual perception of nudes or imagined nude forms: As far as women's sexual reaction to the male body, it seems that it can be as strong as the male reaction to nude women, or the reaction of homosexual women to other women or men to other men.
It is just not expressed as openly in society as the male reaction to a nubile pretty female. It is often maintained amongst women themselves, probably consequential upon their regional or national culture. Alas, I have not often been put in the role of sex object by the opposite sex, but did experience one occasion in a clothing store when the tailor was measuring me for a new pair of trousers on the usual small platform. I could see the look of a young lady waiting for service, as she noticed my profile then strong legs and quite muscular hips and expressed a "I would like to go for a coffee with you" look.
It didn't happen wasted opportunity for a then batchelor but it was a learning experience in my perception of female public reactions and showed that men can be as much objectified sexually as their female counterparts. Good news perhaps for the survival of the human species. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. I want to show you how to create art nude images and how to read and evaluate art nude photographs.
The photographs in the book I have taken over a period of time and I have selected them to show powerful techniques for crea Art Nude Photography Explained How to Photograph and Understand Great Art Nude Images Are you a photographer or a viewer of art nude photography? The photographs in the book I have taken over a period of time and I have selected them to show powerful techniques for creating amazing photographs. My photographic methods are simple and are very easy to duplicate in your own work. I will teach you how to evaluate an image.
You will be able to look at a photograph and assess its qualities. You will be able to see why some images work well and others lack impact. You will learn about the thinking behind images; how to read the image and techniques you can use in your own photography. This book contains 70 colour and black and white images - each image fully described and high resolution. About the author: Simon Q. Walden is an award winning photographer, presenter and author. His books have been bestsellers on Amazon.
He regular teaches students all round the world including for the Royal Photographic Society. He runs a commercial studio in Cheltenham, England Scroll to top and order now Get A Copy. Kindle Edition , pages. Published September 10th by FilmPhotoAcademy. More Details