Still a difference?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by tim_b, Jul 10, 2004.

  1. On the trite and ancient subject of the nude - is there still a
    conceptual difference between the female and the male nude?

    In the last decades the subject of the female nude has been
    postmodernised ad nauseum, objectified this, patriarchal that. The
    male nude has at times been marginalised into a province of gay

    Examples spring to mind which illustrate the inequality of the
    subjects. If I remember correctly, the Greeks saw the male nude as
    the pinnacle of perfection. The Renaissance went the other way,
    culminating eventually in Victorian era painterly equivalents of
    today's "fine art nude". Say if you take a particular point in
    photographic history, there appears to be a distinction between the
    male and female nude. The 1950s, for example, with the fine
    experemintation in the photography of the female nude and the male
    nude being largely represented by homoerotic beefcake 'art' (I'm

    So, in this topsy-turvy oh so post-modern world, is there a greater
    convergence to a 'nude' rather than male or female nude? Or will our
    preferences continue to guide the way society sees both subjects?

  2. People are still afraid of their own sexuality. Most males can't look at other males with an artistic viewpoint because they're afraid that they'll somehow become homosexual.

    Such is the media and such is fear of the unknown.

    I personally tend to prefer nude males because nude females are SO clichéd it almost hurts.
  3. As a painter, I found it necessary to keep up with sketching is the very source, I believe, of all that comes from art. No matter what you paint,the nude is essential to an artist.
    Finding the "truth" in a nude, seems to be a bottom line thing.
    Maybe we have gotten away from that because artists-to my knowledge (and I am currently tucked away in a cobweb of life) don't seem to rely on the truth....hmmmm, was that Freudian slip....because I was going to say,..don't rely on nudes that much for the truth.
    <P> There doesn't seem to be a collective intellectual thought in art these days. Again, am I missing something?
    <P>So, perhaps a new movement, to bring back the nude, would be warranted. A renaissance de la vérité.
    <P>Sorry, I can't help right now. I'm sure I'd be thrown in jail if I started hiring nude models where I live. Forget lesbianism-it'd be straight to jail for me, right under the red, white, and blue.
    <P>And there is your answer too. Go to jail. Don't chicken out. Live.
  4. Belle, the Deep South is as always...Escape to another place.
  5. Tim: I think you have touched on a good subject for discussion.

    From what I have seen in most underground art these days of the younger generation is that nude photography and painting/sketching has taken on a somber and haunting tone. Nude portraits are set up to disturb or confuse or draw out an emotional reaction. I find it refreshing though it is nice to be able to draw from the classics as well.

    Edward: I found what you said about men being hesitant in viewing or appreciating male nudity in art for homophobic reasons and I think there is definitely an element of truth in that. Until machismo society takes a rest we may be stuck with big breasted women on harleys and no men in site. A frightening thought to be sure.

    Again, great topic!

  6. Emily - could you point me to some examples of this underground art? Anything here on photonet?
  7. Since the last decade when we have seen the state of being
    gay/lesbian go from being looked at askance, to becoming
    widely accepted, even chic. The meaning of certain formerly
    beautiful male nudes has been skewed towards the sordid.
    I've noticed a lot of sellers on auctions, when describing the
    picture, will slip in some innuendo about a male nude having
    gay connotations, and more often than not it's nonsense just
    used to draw bidders to scandalous subject matter.

    Sensuality is pure. Beautiful women appear so to other women,
    why not men-irrespective of their orientation?

    Also: I hope that we as a world culture outgrow these silly mores
    that say it is somehow 'dirty' to view a body sans clothing. Certain
    acts are 'dirty' perhaps, but our bodies are sacred.
  8. It should be noted-most men look like they fell outta the ugly tree
    an' hit every branch comin' down. That could have something to
    do with it.
  9. Let's face it - y'all just look funny nekkid! ;)
  10. Male genitalia has social stigmas attached to it. Kind of ironic isn't it, that people say it's a "Male" dominated society and male nudity is practically taboo. Especially in America.
    Seems people are generally bothered by the sight of thee ol' twig and berries!
  11. Tim: Here is a photo by Mark Macku who is a college student at CSUF and a painting i saw in an exhibit on Cuban dictators They are not the best examples of what is out there but colleges and young art districts are great places to experience how nudes are developing in art. Emily
  12. Here is the Photo
  13. Looking at this issue in a different context might be of help. There was a movie made in 1976 called "Pumping Iron", featuring the future Governor of California. While the move may have a cult following in the gay community, I don't think that most persons would view its treatment of the movie's subject, or the photography itself, as "homo-erotic". I would expect that an exhibition of still photography devoted to the subject of body building, and which featured athletes of both genders, would provoke discussion, but such discussion would not necessarily focus on erotic issues, and the issues would be trans-gender in nature.
  14. i wonder if nudists idealize pictures of "clotheds" the way "clotheds" idealize nudes

    just a thought
  15. Nude male photography is apparently very difficult to do. It used to be in a separate category on, and virtually all the pictures were either beefcake or fruity (homoerotic).
  16. wonder if nudists idealize pictures of "clotheds" the way "clotheds" idealize nudes

    No, we don't. We just sit here laughing, wondering why in the hell so many people make such a big fuss over the image of the natural human body.
  17. Why is nude male photography so difficult to do, Bill?
  18. Don't know, Tim (I said, Apparently). You tell me. Can you post any pictures? Or refer to any which aren't beefcake or fruity? (Photos of artwork by others doesn't count IMO).
  19. I don't think this qualifies as either beefcake or homoerotic. Male nudity does tend to make more people uncomfortable than female nudity for some reason. At a recent show I held I overheard one woman saying that she found the amount of "full on" male nudity in the show a little intimidating. Personally, I didn't think there was enough male nudity in the show, but that's just me. Tis all in the eye of the beholder and probably has something to do with our society. Browse the ratings of male/female nudes on this site. You'll find the males almost universally receive low ratings - particularly when there's a penis involved.
  20. Okay, well the one on the right might be considered homoerotic - if you find such images homerotic.
  21. Bill, I have one photo in my portfolio, which I don't consider beefcake or homoerotic. But those concepts are subjective, aren't they? Depending on your point of view the statue of David can be either or both.

    What is beefcake, anyway? Is that a photo of a male who has a better than average body? Does that make the photo homoerotic as well? Whats the equivalent of 'beefcake' for a female nude? Any good looking woman?

    Just posing thoughts as questions...

    Another question - if a gay male photographer (say, Mapplethorpe) produced male nudes, are they homoerotic? Because he is gay? As opposed to male nudes produced by a female photographr, like Dianora Niccolini? A conceptual difference for the viewer?
  22. I discussed this once with a fellow photographer, who told me "you can't take a good photograph of something you don't like or find apealing." and that "You can only take a good picture of a nude male if you are gay or a woman."

    Now we can obviously all see the flaws in those comments. Personally, I approach photographing a nude male the same way I would approach any other subject. I'm not gay (or a woman), but I can still appreciate the visual impact of a well sculpted male figure on some athlete with 7% body fat.

    The structure of life in all its forms is fascinating, in my opinion. Whether it's a naked man, a bird in flight or a germinating seed, I feel it's all worthy of my time and photographic efforts.

    I guess for me it's not a matter of sexuality, but structure and form.
  23. When you think of the way that the Greeks depicted the male nude in their best statues, you realise how simply aesthetically beautiful a male body can be, as a piece of divine machinery if you like. It does seem a pity that this gets lost in societal prejudices about sexuality, and that when some viewers rate a nude, they do so more from the point of view of whether they are turned on (or off) sexually by the image than its overall aesthetic value.

    Male nudes are vastly under represented on this site, as far as I can see.

    But if there are obviously strong societal prejudices with regard to which body is being depicted (male or female), there are probably even stronger ones about the type of body depicted (old or young, fat or thin), and the equation of aesthetics with prettiness is a dogma as deep rooted as the prejudice against homosexuality. It is also far less often questioned.
  24. Paul, your last comment is very true. The age/body size issue as affecting aesthetics is an old one. I don't recall statues of fat Greeks!

    Yes, I agree, many people would judge a nude by the fact whether they are turned on by it or not.

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