Photography and the Nude

The Holly Tree. Author John McNairn Model Ivory Flame

The Holly Tree.
Author John McNairn
Model Ivory Flame

Sunday, whilst perusing the RPS Forum in general, but in the “nude section” I chanced upon an image of some beauty (not the norm in my opinion for the RPS Forum nude section). During my studies in art history, covering the nude in general terms has a painterly tradition I understand it’s basic concept and its’ fluctuation through history caused by public and particularly Victorian England’s public, studies with live models became much more restrictive than they had been in previous times and students that had to proved their worthiness copying old master paintings and drawing from plaster casts instead of life models and mainly because of publicly funded schools. Modelling was looked upon with little favour and with women as being on a par with prostitution. Live figure studies and its classical status in art education throughout England, Europe and the United States of America with the approach of the 20th Century. I suppose the better known purveyor of nude art was Edouard Manet with his “Olympia” 1863 modelled by Victorine Louise Meurent who was an artist in her own right and “Le Déjeuner sur L’Herbe” “The Luncheon on the Grass”) 1862/3 where she sits naked at the front of the image.

The Luncheon on the Grass (Le déjeuner sur l'herbe), 1863

The Luncheon on the Grass 1863

Olympia, 1863

Olympia, 1863

Having trouble putting all this into context with photography, but when I asked the question of John McNairn the Author of the image I am referring to, his reply was as follows :-

The theme of decay and nude is a common one, the contrast between youth and death, beauty and desolate. It’s a very old theme too and features a lot in fairy tales and mythology.
This genre fits into the art nude category.

In general terms:-

Fine Art Nude are images of the non sexual nude concentrating on light, shape and contours, often just parts of the body.
Art Nude is images of the non sexual nude as a whole, using the environment and/or props to create the image.
Glamour is non nude using poses to entice in a sexually alluring fashion.
Erotic nude or non-nude are images that pose to sexually excite

These are loose explanations and often genres cross over depending on the image.
The whole nude subject is far too in-depth to explain accurately in a post but I hope this helps a bit.

I still do not fully get this photographic genera and shall spend more time with the books until I do, Hope I don’t get talked about.

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