Photography Information

Nude Art Photography

Nude photography is the genre of art photography, whose subject is the representation of the naked (full nude) or partially naked (half nude) human body.

The aesthetic value of nude photography and its boundary to erotic photography can only be determined with difficulty and inter-subjectively and is also affected by its numerous overlaps with pornography. In consequence, nude photography and erotic photography always find themselves branded in multiple ways, and labelled as works of artistic freedom, aesthetics, kitsch, junk or provocation. The boundaries of nude photography, erotic photography and pornography are so undefined and continuously changing that they are always determined and defined by the subjective moral view of the individual and the generally accepted cultural confines of "customs and tradition".

Whether the picture itself is art or junk always lies in the eye of the beholder. One (subjective) definition of the worth of a nude photograph is: "A nude photo is then good, when the Model shows it around at the coffee table at her grandmother's birthday party and receives positive feedback." (Günter Rinnhofer) Other definitions have been by far more controversial. For Horst Werner this art form has always been about provocation and evoking of emotions. He prefers disgust, shock and aversion (as evoked for example by his photographs of nudes at a cemetery or of disabled people) to indifference, which in his opinion, is often the only reaction generated by other, more conventional art styles. Additionally, it is nowadays no longer such a taboo to depict the primary sex features of a human being. However, in contrast to pornography, nude photography does not actively pursue to excite the audience, although this does not exclude that it is consumed with this intention and effect.

Tasteful nude photography is often regarded as high skilled photography as besides technical knowledge and the ability to manipulate light the nude photographer also needs strong communication skills and the ability to build a positive relationship with his model. A modelling contract between photographer and model often includes additional remuneration to the model besides payment and publication rights.

Subgenres and Subjets

"Feminine nudity must be given to men by the teaspoonful, not with a scoop." (Coco Chanel)

Nude photography divides into three basic forms: the "classic" full nude with a simple background, full nude model where model is completely naked; the detailed nude depicting certain details of the body, abstracting and making them anonymous, and emphasising the forms and structures of the nude; and finally the half nude, where the model is partially clothed or partially wrapped with accessories.

History and development

The nude is a classic subject in art. Already the early high cultures (Egypt, Crete, India among others) knew nude representations. Its development into other representation forms can be pursued from Greek clay to the art of the middle ages and on to the European art of the modern age. Since the renaissance, the study of the nude human body is an intrinsic part of art education at art academies.

Since around 1847 the nude has also become the object of photography, the first nude photographers including Philippe Debussy, E. Delacroix, Eugene Durieu and B. Braquehais. Models were both professionals and prostitutes and photographs were both artistic and "spicy", which often invited the aversion of moral and law enforcement officers.

Important Nude Photographers ? Bettina Rheims David Bailey ? Eric Kroll Helmut Newton ? Hans-Peter Muff ? Jan Saudek Meister der Koloriertechnik (kolorieren) ? Jeanloup Sieff Man Ray ? Paul Outerbridge Petter Hegre ? Richard Kern Roy Stuart ? Robert Mapplethorpe Sam Haskins ? Uwe Ommer Günter Blum

This article was first published by Maria A. Novatschkova, art critic at > nude photography

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