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Fine Art Nude Photography reveals the body, treading on the dangerous terrain of objectification and sexuality. But what do Artists convey with this influential medium and risky subject? 

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The Nude has always been a central subject for the Arts, across mediums and throughout History. Since the start of time, people have used the nude body to symbolise something more than bare nakedness. However, the delicate and often sexualised images, can be contemporarily potent, significant and stunning. They stand on a fine line, between an artistic representation of the body in all its beauty, and an intrusive image of someone’s stolen intimacy.  

 

Lin Zhipeng, Top of Lily, 2010

 

Art Historian Kenneth Clark explained how the English Language brilliantly distinguishes between the naked and the nude, “To be naked is to be deprived of our clothes, and the word implies some of the embarrassment most of us feel in that condition. The word 'nude', on the other hand, carries, in educated usage, no uncomfortable overtone. The vague image it projects into the mind is not of a huddled and defenceless body, but of a balanced, prosperous and confident body: the body re-formed."

No matter how similar the meanings are, a significant difference lies between an intrusion and Fine Art Nude Photo. The latter is not an abuse of someone’s image; it is a depiction of their unique essence. The true respect for the person in the nude rests on this fine line. It is all up to the artists ability to capture more than a naked body.

 

Stefania Romano, PLUMETTE, 2013

 

However, the person looking at these photographs is an actor – a participant in the power-game of representation. Indeed, according to Beth A. Eck, it is how the nude image can be seen which creates a big distinction standing between the understanding of Art, pornography and information (i.e., Medicine/ Science). They are categories, which lie within the observer. 

Striking, Compelling and Allusive – it is especially the female body which falls into the spotlight. Are these subjects actually present, or are they objectified in a denaturalising and depersonalising way?

 

Natasha Kertes, RAIN #2, 2012

 

John Berger illustrated how the way of seeing ‘a nude’, is not only ascribed to one form art. And the female body is also especially present throughout Art History. In fact, the very representation of the female body today, the way we look at it and judge it, is embedded in tradition. And as such it has been strongly influenced, by the dominating male perspective, which has revealed it, gazing and owning the female body as if it were an object. 

“To be naked is to be oneself. To be nude is to be seen by others and yet not be recognised for oneself. A naked body has to be seen as an object in order to become a nude. (...) Nakedness reveals itself. Nudity is placed on display.”

(John Berger, 1972)

The line is even finer when talking about Nude Photography, where the subject is frequently posing or where the photographer zooms into the details. But in the fine art pieces, beauty and power and perspectives are always strongly intertwined. In fact, Fine Art Nude Photography reveals the body, but it is a transforming medium which integrates and gives voice to so many angles and voices. 

Strong lights and shadows carve bodies in black and white photographs. Fashion imagery and popular icons mix in tense compositions.

 

Branko Lenart, La Priee, 1975

 

Stefania Romano provides us with detailed glances. In Branko Lenart’s work strong lines emphasise the meaning the Nudes can have. Delicate shades are a veil for the bodies depicted in the photographs by Natasha Kertes.

Traditional techniques, such as those adopted by famous Vladimir Clavijo-Telepnev, are employed to make use of sepia colours to mould the images which emerge from the lines, forms and plasticity. Even mythological themes appear reinvented in Michael K. Yakaoka’s work.

In Agnese Carbone, Lin Zhipeng and Chiara Vitellozzi’s Nude Photographs, natural elements, textures and corporeality are placed in relation to one another, emphasising the comparable beauty of the simple forms. 

 

Chiara Vitellozzi, Sognare la bellezza ovunque #1, 2020

 

Here, the artists depict the body, along with millions of facets. Their influential (and hardly frivolous) images can hold much more than raw nakedness in this remarkable art form. These artists’ shoots are matured and hold the depth and sensitivity needed to approach this subject.

Undoubtedly, Fine Art Nude Photography stands on a difficult terrain. It carries the weight of female representation in History. However, what do we see? What are our thoughts, actions and views in response to this selection of Fine Art Nude Photographs?  

 

Cover image: Agnese Carbone, Women, 2018

Written by Zoë Zanello

 

Stay Tuned on Kooness magazine for more exciting news from the art world.

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