What's so cool about nudes?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by juan o, Oct 16, 2007.

  1. I love photography, from the theories to the actual images. I grew up like
    everybody else... as a child, naked is bad. Maybe that manifests itself in my
    thoughts when I see a nudity photographs. In theory, these photographs are
    art, but to me some of these photos seem like infatuations with the opposite
    sex; nothing more than pornography. Am I missing something? My question
    really is mainly to hear other photographers thoughts, and that is: Are nudity
    photos art? Why or why not?
     
  2. Some nude photos are driven by nothing more than a desire to be in the same room with a naked lady, some are nothing more than porn, and some a very beautiful studies of light and form. It all really depends on your own personal opinion.

    However, the same could be said for virtually all forms of photography. Is a photo of a fruit bat art? Is a portrait of a baby art?
     
  3. "Maybe that manifests itself in my thoughts when I see a nudity photographs."

    Of course it does, guilt is one of the most powerful emotions you can instill in a person.

    "to me some of these photos seem like infatuations with the opposite sex"

    of course it is! Withthe caveat that what you say is true if iamges of the "opposite sex" (strange that you can't say "women", you mhave to instinctually make half the human race be in opposition to you) turns you on... it works for me,but it doesn't work that way for everyone.

    "nothing more than pornography"

    Pornographic for you , because it incites lustful thoughts of the forbidden in your head.

    "Are nudity photos art? Why or why not?"

    It depends o nthe specific photo and on the specific viewer, end of story. Do you think Michelangelo's statue of David is pornographic? what about Bottacelli's (sp?) painting of "Venus"? What about "the Dinner Party" by Judy Chicago?
     
  4. the fact that this topic is perpetually raised and discussed and argued and many nudes are
    posted (good ones,bad ones,artistic and humurous) - should be more than enough evidence
    to everyone (including puritanical Americans) that they are WORTHY !
    Yes ! Naked bodies are cool !
     
  5. I'd also like to point out Juan That no one is making you look atthem. you are lookign and are oftened, well whose responsibility is that/ There are a lot worse things in the world than the human flesh as God made it. Let's try to solve those problems first before getting back to worrying about nudes and peole looking at them.
     
  6. Even the Victorians could accept 'artful' nudity. Sometimes.

    It's amazing, however, what a difference a few square centimeters of exposure makes for some people.
     
  7. Poussin said: "Landscapes are beautiful--as a background for paintings of people." Same goes for photography. A good landscape is beautiful, but with a person in it, it becomes much more. People like to look at people.(This quote is not an attack on landscape photographers). I would no more like to put clothes on my models than the typical insect photographer wants to shoot a dragonfly in diapers and sunglasses.
     
  8. I am a newbie(ish) photographer, and a woman, and I have been shooting a lot of female nudes lately. Mostly from women who come to me looking for an image that will capture their own natural beauty. Some say they want something to look at and remember when they are 80. Some are proud of the way they look, or others want me to make them "look" beautiful, even for a frozen instant. Of course, they want these image kept private, so I would never post them without permission. But I think there is much more to a lovely nude image than pornography. It can be that, or it can be so much more...in these days of anorexia and social pressure it's nice to see women affirming their own sense of beauty and self worth.
     
  9. Ellis,

    the (sp?): Botticelli.

    everything else: absolutely.
     
  10. exhibition in london at the moment -
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/7045772.stm
     
  11. Jeez, I'd just love to get that "dragonfly in diapers and sunglasses".
     
  12. Wow, lots of responses in such short time! Hmm. . .
    Ellis, to be clear I can make the distinction between women and men; I chose not to since nudes are not specific to women. I say "opposite sex", because I am a male, and some here are female, this term better covers both genders to all who post in the discussion. To be honest you made the distinction, not me. And I do not find nudes offensive (if that is what you meant to type? "you are lookign and are oftened"), I see them and I think "bad, " but I do not react on that. Instead I am curious of the philosophy behind it. . . since this is. . . wait for it. . . the philosophy forum. . .
    As for your answer, I believe that it is definitely an individual-specific taste, hence my post. I wonder why it is that "you" as an individual believe nudes are an art form? Josh, JDM, Bruce, and Kelly all bring up good points. Myself, I see some very beautiful nude photographs, while others seem rather tasteless. From what some of you are saying, a pornographic magazine can be art.
    Josh, I like how you compare this concept to photos of animals and children. In essence they are the same, but I say that, because we are raised with the idea that nudity is wrong, they are different. This is strengthened by the taboo nudity magazines. The human body is, by society's norm, private and clothed. But when it is behind a lens or a canvas, it is art. Kelly brings this idea to the table with women being so comfortable with themselves they will allow a photographer to record the most private of privates. While this is great to hear in a world where paper thin is good, I still ask: is it art?
    Ok, I'm sorry everybody, I'm off my soap box. You can see that I think WAY too much about these things. I am very much into human interaction, couple that with my hobby in photography and you get the paragraph above. Anyway, continue with your responses, so far, it is very interesting.
     
  13. Juan, Thank you for your corrections. But I never said or wrote that I as an individual believe nudes are an art form.Photography is an art form, sculpture is an art form, music wwritten or performed is an art form, painting and drawing are art forms, dance is an art form, literature is an art form.
    Inside those forms there is a lot of room. Some photographs of nude subjects are art, and some are only smut. Most photographs of the nude human form nudes are really just really boring cliches no matter how well executed , in fact the artier they look they more clichesd and boring they tend to be.
    Is your question really: "Why do people like to photograph naked people"? Is it "Why do people like to look at naked people?" or is it "Why do we find making and looking at photographs of naked people so fascinating?"
     
  14. I enjoy good photography, and nudes are interesting to see the photographer's perspective
    and work. I'm always curious to notice the differences between photographers and especially
    between men and women photographers, to see if there is a difference in their images,
    perhaps from their experience and gender. Look a Leonard Nimoy's recent work of nudes of
    large women. Makes you think and see differently than most photographers do with nudes.
     
  15. I read somewhere that the purpose of art is to ennoble the beholder. Now lots of people might not agree with this, and also we have to explain exactly what we mean by "ennoble." Nonetheless, if we accept this definition, it simplifies things a great deal.

    When you look at a nude, do you feel ennobled or ashamed? If the former, it is art. If the latter, it is pornography.

    Acknowledging that some people might feel ennobled, and others ashamed, by looking at the same image.
     
  16. Allan--

    I'll have to disagree with that definition of art. I wonder if you remember where you read it. Of
    course, there have been many definitions of art provided throughout the centuries. Most of
    them don't work for one reason or another. It would take volumes to say what art is. I won't
    do that. The problem with art as "ennobling" is that, no matter how you define that term, it
    implies elevating, uplifting, or somehow dignifying. There would seem to be a value
    judgment to go along with "ennobling." I think art can denegrate, soil, and be ignoble.
     
  17. Fred: Maybe we should start a new thread. In the meantime, can you cite some examples of art that denegrates, soils, and is ignoble?
     
  18. Fred: I think maybe it was Aristotle who defined art that way. Something about catharsis, meaning purification.
     
  19. Nudes = no clothes = no warmth => oh so cool.
     
  20. Catharsis
    As the article above seems to confirm, I think Aristotle's use of "catharsis" in the Poetics is in good deal a reaction to Plato's view of art. Plato felt that art's danger was that it was representative. A representation of a thing is twice removed from Reality (the most Real entities being the Forms). For example, a painting of a chair was simply a representation of a chair in the world. The chair in the world was simply a representation of the Form of Chair, the Ideal Chair.
    I think Aristotle had more use for art than Plato, and saw it as a means of relieving passion, really more in line with purging oneself of excess and potentially dangerous emotion than any kind of purification. If Plato is the early Greek Idealist, Aristotle is his Pragmatist counterpart. Aristotle's was a pretty down-to-Earth view of things, not one that sought to ennoble.
     
  21. Fred, I've heard the quote about the role of art as being that of ennobling us before. I can not recall the exact location and I can't quickly find it through Google. That phrase is alluded to in the book description for History of Modern Art> by H.H. Arnason on Amazon. I have that book and have read most of it. Maybe that idea is referenced in it. I'll try and get a chance to have a look.
    I also agree that I, personally, don't think that is the role of art or that art has to ennoble us to qualify as art. But, a separate posting on this topic is in order.
     
  22. Fred, I found it. It is Schiller -- which explains why I couldn't quite find the exact phraseology due to translation differences.
    I still can't find anything really good about it online -- but, you could try HERE under Aesthetic theory.
     
  23. Fred, I found it. It is Schiller -- which explains why I couldn't quite find the exact phraseology due to translation differences.
    I still can't find anything really good about it online -- but, you could try HERE under Aesthetic theory.
     
  24. Ian--

    Amazing you should mention the Arnason book. I valued it greatly when I studied it and was
    recently looking and can't find it. I must have lent it to someone and never gotten it back. Will
    have to get a new copy. Thanks for the reference.

    --Fred
     
  25. Fred,

    If you going to buy one book, why not buy two! As much as I liked the Arnason, it was always largely because it was so thoroughly illustrated. For theory, I really liked reading Herschel B. Chipp Theories of Modern Art: A Source Book by Artists and Critics. Used copies are available through A Variety of Online Merchants for around $10. The Chipp volume's strength was that it included lengthy quotations of various primary sources such as manifestos, letters, journal entries, etc... It also delves into the influence of related movements in literature and music more thoroughly than most texts.
     
  26. The problem with "pornography" is that most definitions use words like "explicit" and
    "intent." Explicit usually in the context of full frontal nudity. But, so what? Everyone over the
    age of five knows what people look like without clothes. Only religion, but not so much
    religious art, makes nakedness evil.
    <p>And, of course, determining intent of the photographer is an exercise in futility.
    <p>Nakedness is natural, clothing is the aberration. What a screwed up culture we have. :)
     
  27. Fred: Does Serrano's Piss Christ ennoble the beholder? Some people think it does. Sister Wendy, in the Wickipedia article you linked, said that "she regarded the work as a statement on 'what we have done to Christ' - that is, the way contemporary society has come to regard Christ and the values he represents." That article also references an essay by Damien Casey (something ominous about that name?) in Arts and Opinion wherein he claims "that it is Serrano's exploration of the relation between the abject and the sacred that makes Piss Christ not only good art, but good religious art, bordering on the iconic." Now you and I may be a bit skeptical about all that, but taking Sister Wendy and Mr. Casey at their word, they seem to feel ennobled after beholding Piss Christ.
     
  28. Allan--

    They may be. I am not.

    I'm perfectly satisfied to say it's art AND it gives me the creeps. No ennoblement here.

    It occurs to me that both authors you reference may be looking for excuses to find it
    ennobling so they don't have to deal with the reality of what Serrano could be saying. Now,
    of
    course, Serrano is saying many things (not limited to my interpretation or theirs, or his for
    that matter), but
    surely it can be taken as a denigrating statement about Christ (and has been by many of
    its
    detractors and appreciators alike) and still remain art.

    Naturally, one can say that even the most denigrating of artistic statements at some level
    ennobles the viewer. But that is similar to saying everything we do is for pleasure. So that
    even suicide becomes pleasurable because it fulfills a need in us. To me, that's kind of a
    fruitless way of viewing the world. It boils everything down to one motivation and I think
    people and artists have a wide array of motivations from which to operate, some of them
    much darker and more sinister than others.
     
  29. Fred: OK, let me try this then: Art ought to be ennobling, and was from the dawn of civilization until some time in the twentieth century. Since then, in an increasingly frantic effort to be original and "transgressive," much of what is considered visual art has sunk lower and lower until most normal people currently find its depravity appalling.
     
  30. Thanks, Allan. I think that is honest and well stated. And I couldn't disagree more!
     
  31. " Everyone over the age of five knows what people look like without clothes. Only religion, but not so much religious art, makes nakedness evil."

    So why do we wear clothes ?
     
  32. Because religion has equated nakedness with sin...the myth of the Garden of Eden follows us
    forever.

    <p>Besides, they keep us warm in the winter (if we live in colder climates).
     
  33. Has religion equated nakedness with sin? I honestly didn't know that - perhaps I should bone up on my bible again!
    I can't see any sin in being naked. I have no problem with nakedness. I have no problem with grown ups who want to pose for sexually erotic photos to make money or to please others - that's their choice. The only time I see a problem with nakedness is when it's inappropriate.
    Sure some nude photos can be art, some can be smut, some can be crap - but then I suppose if the smut and crap ones are taken by an "artist" then they have to be considered as art as well.
     
  34. Pete--

    Good points. Much the same with nature shots and landscape shots. Some are art, some are
    crap.
     
  35. From The Book of Genesis: KJV

    3:7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and
    they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

    3:8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the
    day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst
    the trees of the garden.

    3:9 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

    3:10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked;
    and I hid myself.
     
  36. Jim, but didn't they only become aware of their nakedness because they had come to the realisation that the sight of each other was tempting? And it was a sin to be lead into temptation - not a sin to be naked?

    Better say a couple of words here.....we are talking about nakedness in photography. Had to drop that in before someone points out that the word "photography" hasn't been mention for a few minutes and the thread gets closed or deleted :)
     
  37. Pete and others..

    "it was a sin to be lead into temptation"

    Speaking theologicaly, it is not a sin to be lead into temptation but the presedence of sin that leads to temptation. This is also applicable to creative photography.

    Wander what Ady man said back on 3:11 rap and what serpent had to think of that.
     
  38. It can also be a manifestation of personal inocence and/or redemption of original sin. Just take a look at heavier Maplethorpe stuff or old good Herbert List. Not tomention those expensive magazines out there. Cool indeed.
     
  39. Pete-- Not sure what your point is. If temptation is the sin and "the sight of each other
    [naked] was tempting," then nakedness is playing a role in sin. Either nakedness is the sin
    or nakedness leads to the sin. Either way, the bible is not putting nakedness in a very
    good light.

    Of course, another interesting question to ask would be why temptation is a sin.

    Perhaps if we ask that question we can consider whether many religions are predisposed
    to considering sex, not just nudity, sinful. And then we might ask, WHY?

    What, to me, is really a sin is that the OP looks at nude photos and . . . "I see them and I
    think 'bad'."
     
  40. personally, I look at nude photos and think "okay, would this picture still be interesting if she wasn't naked? If she wasn't attractive?" if the answer is no, than it's not a worthy picture. Mainly because it is a lot harder to take an interesting picture of a stranger with their clothes on than a picture of a stranger in the nude.
     
  41. Fred, good point. I really think it's not the nudity that people really have problems with but
    with sexuality. They are bothered by a sexual response to seeing photos of nudes. And, that
    just makes no sense. If sex is sinful, then we are all guilty. Many religious people feel,
    however, that a marriage license transform their sin into something spiritual. Seems
    delusional to me, though.
     
  42. I get a sense that nudity and sexual imagery are getting to be relatively safe topics. Finally. And good,we needed to move on. As they get safer,we can feign blushes at some works and still be 'cool.' (I mean when a former president did what he did with M,it was SO shocking (harumph and toss of the chin) in the safe shocking sense though laughable to European ladies who said " Zat ees foreplay, no beeg deal..."

    Except for the obvious ability to categorize them and block them out in libraries for the impure gaze of schoolage kids,not so shocking anymore. (The latter is funny,because I made a big hit in middle school with my ability to sketch a pretty good naked lady's buttocks and other private body parts. Not art,but definitely more interesting than algebra to my mates. Yes I was caught and soundly whacked for my anatomical artwork)
    I find good well lit nudes to be interesting. And poor nudes to be really bad. Maybe it has to do with the spiritual sense of the body from yoga and art course in college and looking at what great masters have painted.
    What I have begun to suspect, as I get on, is that sex and nudity are pseudo naughty covers for real taboo subjects that are still tough to approach in art as in life. (I can't give you the whole list but I think aging,fear of death, crows' feet, loss of parent,worry for the kids, fear of pain, thoughts about courage in battle an more. The kind of subject that gets explored in a few good films and conversations at retreats in the wee small hours with people one learns to trust.

    Ergo, nudity is IMO a safe but everpopular topic and will be an evergreen in PoP.
     
  43. An infatuation with the opposite sex? Of course, and very naturally so. Regardless of how we were brought up, or what we were told; males and females are generally sexually attracted to each other.

    I don't know if denying or ignoring this is exactly healthy. It is normal and the only way humanity has perpetuated itself through time. We can pretend otherwise and present normal as abnormal to our young during their formulative years. We may think this healthy, but it's probably the root of why there are so many perverts, rapists, and weirdos running loose today.

    I think that once we shake off all the misinformation from those adolescent years, we can be comfortable viewing the nude for what it is, "Beautiful." This allows us to examine the model and photographer with both respect and admiration.

    I know I'll probably draw fire on this, but if any deviation from "normal" is considered a "perversion," then what exactly is abstinence and celibacy?
     
  44. No fire here. Makes sense. Of course with the caveat that there are other natural infatuations
    aside from those with the opposite sex.
     
  45. "I grew up like everybody else... as a child, naked is bad." ...."Are nudity photos art?"

    What was the question?
     
  46. When I was younger, I used to find images involving nudity titilating, where the subject was an attractive female. At the same time I used to find images involving male nudity pointless, perhaps even a little bit "gay".

    I had been conditioned to believe that nudity was taboo, and that it images involving nudity could ONLY be looked at in a sexually provocative way..

    Since then I have matured, and now look at a female nude in exactly the same way as a male. Some of these images do indeed still come across as "erotic" to one degree or another, but by far the majority are just beautiful depictions of form and light.

    It is very unfortunate that there are not more male nudes out there, although this is most likely due to the overwhelming abundance of young women (as opposed to men) who aspire to become models.

    I do think that if there were more male nudes out there, then the stigma which inevitably still surrounds the (sub)genre would begin to break down. Right now there are still far too many people with the same mindset as I had when I was young.

    That said, why are nudes "cool"? I didn't realise they were! I'd consider advertising and fashion images far more "cool". Since when has art been cool?

    best regards,
    Guy
     
  47. Ralph Hattersley was almost exclusively preoccupied with the opportunities for self-
    knowledge photography provides. The art is secondary to this. (see Discover Yourself
    Through Photography, out of print)

    His take on nudes is that when men shoot their first female nudes they are inevitably
    disappointed in the lousy results. Only after they realize that they've got to look at the
    body as a lit form do they begin to see that sexuality may or may not come through but
    nothing comes through without a well-considered and sober approach.

    What drives the photographer to go on and try to surmount his mental blinders? Why,
    salaciousness, of course. Hattersley believed that the low and the high are interactive and
    self-metamorphic. But then he was more interested in spiritualism than in art.
     
  48. jtk

    jtk

    Fred Goldsmith (visit his gallery) is one of the very few whose work I've seen anywhere, who seems fearless on the age/nude dimension. And Fred speaks directly to sexuality, he's not one of the pretend-geldings.

    The classical paintings labeled "Odalesque" were intended primarily to be erotic, especially those with "oriental" and African themes, and it's not surprising that sexuality characterizes many famous Roman Catholic religious works, especially sculptures ("David").


    It's extremely unusual, nearly to the point of "never," for a photographer to shoot nudes of young men or women without intending to tease themselves or clients. Arousal is the specific reason their subjects are young. The "abstractions" mostly seem coy, fan dancers. Porn is sometimes more honest.

    Someone who didn't seem to pander photographically: Weston.

    Someone who overtly did: Mapplethorpe.

    Yet both were directly sexually engaged with their subjects.
     
  49. I think the problem with most nude photography is that it does, as Jeff says, "look at the
    body as a lit form." There's a place for that and some do it really well. It also gets old after
    a while.

    Nude bodies belong to people.

    Very few of the nudes on PN and outside actually engage the subject as
    person. They are, indeed, "bod[ies] as a lit form" which is another way of saying they
    are mostly objectifying. This can be emotionally very distancing. Treating the body as a
    landscape may seem poetic but, in fact, it can be
    missing a great part of the point.

    The need to separate the nude body from the
    person
    says a lot. Imagine if the majority of portraits treated faces as "a lit form."

    Thanks, John, for the reference to and sincere words about my gallery.

    John brings up a great point about "serious" artists legitimizing their work by denying
    sexuality when it comes to nudes. It's done over and over again and is most of hogwash.
     
  50. "most of" should be "mostly"
     
  51. Ilia "Speaking theologicaly, it is not a sin to be lead into temptation but the presedence of sin that leads to temptation. This is also applicable to creative photography. "

    Thanks Ilia for the explanation - that's helpful. :)

    John Kelly "It's extremely unusual, nearly to the point of "never," for a photographer to shoot nudes of young men or women without intending to tease themselves or clients. Arousal is the specific reason their subjects are young."

    John, how about explicit nudes of 5 year old children? Very young subjects.

    Fred "John brings up a great point about "serious" artists legitimizing their work by denying sexuality when it comes to nudes. It's done over and over again and is most of hogwash."

    Fred, would you say this is the case with that much talked about Nan Goldin picture - explicit nude of 5 year old girl - legitimised by the "serious artist" denying sexuality and others pointing out that anyone who finds it perhaps inappropriate or offensive or wrong are the ones who have a problem?
     
  52. Pete--

    I was considering only adults here.

    Photographs of naked children would encompass a different set of considerations. Some
    might overlap with adults and others wouldn't.

    Can you provide a quote and its context where Goldin attempted to legitimize her photo
    by denying sexuality?
     
  53. Come on Pete, let it go...
     
  54. jtk

    jtk

    "Nan-Golden-isn't-a-child-abuser" has been beaten to death on three recent threads. It's a ridiculous and tiresome argument specifically for child porn.

    Some think it's OK to exploit of young, ordinarily clothed children, by photographing them nude (calling this "cute"). That's called "depravity."

    Pete, If you can produce anyone under 18 (the legal age) who can address this topic coherently I'll give that person and his/her parents as much respect as I'd give Paris Hilton.

    I imagine you would too?
     
  55. http://www.abc.net.au/myfavouritealbum/albumart/nevermind.htm

    I'm not wading into the the whole Nan Goldin image thing again, but it would be hard to argue that the image linked above isn't well accepted in society.
     
  56. Fred, I made an assumption (possibly incorrectly) that by publishing this image as a depiction of innocence then "sexuality" was implicitly denied. I'm pretty certain that if the image was blatantly published as a depiction of sexuality then there would be a greater swing against the "artistic legitimacy" or whatever of the image. I'm probably waffling now - my own opinions on this are pretty firm in my mind so perhaps I should heed SP's advice and "let it go" before I end up with a total mental stress out!

    SP, the Nirvana, Nevermind album cover - seems to be like a different kettle of fish from the entire composition and subject matter point of view. Spencer Elden was just photographed doing what millions of babies do - swim naked - and it was done in an innocent kind of way. With the Goldin picture, though, the depiction is clearly different and Goldin clearly chose to compose the picture in a fashion to maximise its controversiality (made up word).

    Anyway, I'm letting it go.....
     
  57. Is Nude Photography Art or Porn?

    I don't know the exact word or the exact situation..but this issue has been to court and the judge's conclusion was this "I KNOW IT, WHEN I SEE IT."

    I can tottaly differentiate between ART and PORN when I look at a photograph, I hope you can too, cheer. :)
     
  58. Going back to your original posting...

    Am I missing something? Not really, when you say that SOME of these images seem like infatuations, or pornography - you are absolutely right. Some nude images DO seem like this - most likely some of these images actually ARE this. Not all though. Your second question goes some way to clarifying this concept.

    Are nudity photos art? To me, art is anything produced through a learned thought process - a skill which has been honed over time to produce pleasing results. You might not think that changing the wheel of your car is art, but if you've ever seen the Ferrari pit crew changing the wheels of their Grand Prix cars during a race you might reconsider.

    Of course you can't say nudity photo's are art - this is a generalization - in the same way you can't say that food tastes good. What you can say is that the skills to take correctly lit and exposed photographs is an art.

    From a different perspective, the skills developed by the model to learn posing techniques consitute an art in my book. Now those skills are different depending on whether the intention is to create a beautifully lit form, or whether to incite arousal in the viewer - it is still an art.

    Lastly, of course, there is the argument that some nudity photo's are NOT art. Those are the photo's which people make without learning any technique, and I think of these as simply voyeuristic snapshots. You know the sort I mean - like the "readers wives" publications of old.

    Do I like art? Do you like art? - again, these are unanswerable generalisations. The definition of art is too wide, and has been discussed ad nauseum. It's like saying "do you like 'things'".

    You need to split the term "art" into subcategories which are easier to manage. Similarly, you need to split "nudity photos" into more manageable sub-sub-sub-genres. Where you put the divisions between them is up to you. What I consider a run-of-the-mill portrait, may have been pornography to the Victorians (who couldn't show a womans ankle, let alone her knee), and would have probably had me incarcerated, or worse, if shown to the Spanish inquisition. It's not all about the changing attitudes over time, but about cultures around the globe. Many people can't go around without headscarves hiding their faces. How would these people view a portrait of a girl in a gym outfit? The only question here is "Do YOU consider 'nudity pictures' art?", and not "are they art at all".

    I don't particularly like pornography, but it'd be very precocious of me to say that just because I don't like it, that it isn't an art. I don't like pickled gherkins either, no-one is going to tell me that they're not food though, just because I don't like them. I don't consider pornography "fine art" and I assume that many would agree. That said, the two genres do sometimems overlap, when taken in abstract. I still don't like them though.

    So now, you know my opinion, maybe it's time to develop your own.

    cheers, Guy
     
  59. I find it quite amusing that there are images that are 'fine', some that are 'art' and some that are 'nude' but the minute an image is labelled with all three as a 'fine art nude' it usually manages to become far less than the sum of its parts.

    Theres a plethora of images on pnet that astonish me - where the photog has somehow figured out that women + clothing = boring crap, but women - clothing = fine art. How does this happen? What mental leap is occurring?

    Pete M. - pleased you are letting go the N.Goldin thing - it could become unhealthy for you! :)

    Guy - you could have chosen a less phallic vegetable than a gherkin - maybe a well-shaped swede would have been more appropriate!
     
  60. I vote for the gherkin!
     
  61. OK, up front: I've not read the entire thread. The topic gets old to me. So, if this has already been said...whatever.

    Nudes are different depending on whether the model is male or female. Exploitation is inherent in many photographs of women. Now, the line between pornography and art: I'll cut to the chase and be more direct than the Supreme Court.

    If it degrades and exploits, it's porn. Period.
     
  62. Juan,

    As far as nudity in itself being represented in photography, I think it's neutral. After all, "nudity" simply refers to the body without clothing. It's neither good nor bad. It simply IS. So, a photograph with nudity is simply a representation of a body without clothing. There's nothing either good or bad about it. The "good" or "bad" connotations come with the context, which can be very subjective.

    As far as a given photograph of the nude being "Art" or "Porn" I think it basically boils down to the question of admiration versus desire. When you're looking at any given photo, what part of your nature does it appeal to? Does it appeal to your admiration of the beauty of the body, or does it appeal to your sense of sexual desire?

    If the content of the photograph is more about admiring the body for its beauty, I'd say it's more likely art (or at least artistic in its intent.) If it's blatantly catering to your sense of sexual desire, I'd say it's porn.
     
  63. All good photographs generate some sensations in our body,a good landscape,a wildflower,wild animal,kids everything that has a good composition,good(plesant)light& good shadows ,experimentation behind it,are good photographs.these good photos generate sensation in the upper part of your body ...in the heart.brain.eyes.....NUDES too can be good if they have all the ingradients of a good photograph and generate sensation on the upper part of your body.....not & not in the lower one..
     
  64. John MacPherson - well shaped Swede....I'd second that ;)
     
  65. I've watched for a while now - my own survey if you like.
    First, I like classy, naughty, arty with content, technically competent ... etc.

    But I see a nude shot posted and the comments and praise even if it is technically not competent is amazing. Look at the views and watch the comments. Just a bunch of frustrated old or not so old guys who can't get opposite sex company.
     
  66. We are at this again. I like Ellis' response.

    I do nudes. Sometimes it turns me on. Sometimes it is hard work.

    Every session contains elements of all of it. Some is art and I show it to people as such. Some turns out to be cheesecake andsome people like that too. Most is crap or failed lighting/posing and it gets deleted. Every once in a while a session is hot as hell. As Jimmy Buffet said "Turning on the people is a very nice thing to do".

    Try looking at it from behind the camera. It is a different experience that looking at pictures. But then so is all photography. I will say this. If making nudes offends you don't do it outside of school. But try to get to the bottom of that feeling for your own sake.
     
  67. Rachel-
    Hello, my name is Erica. You photographed me this weekend as part of the Rocky Horror Picture Show cast. I don't know if this topic was simply out of curiosity or interest, but I've always been interested in artistic photographs of natural and realistic nudity. Sometimes I think the difference between porn and artful nudes is how near or far the body is to "the ideal". To see the beauty in real women's bodies is art. I would certainly consider posing for you if you are interested in doing some female nudes for experience.
    Thanks again for photographing us this weekend.
    Take care.
    Erica.
     
  68. I didn't have time to read the entire discussion so I hope that what I'm about to say hasn't
    been said already.

    I personally don't like nudes, or at least most of them. Sometimes I see very beautiful shots
    done with great elegance and in a way that the beauty of the female body is enhanced to the
    point that it overwhelms any tabu. Those shots I see extremely rarely. However, I have to be
    honest: in most of the shots I see my eyes point straight to business and what I think is
    "man, she is a piece of a..". Pure and simple.
     
  69. Antonio, but IS IT that "pure and simple?" I don't think so. I really believe there's a lot more to it than regarding a woman's body as "a piece of a.." Don't get me wrong... I believe I understand what you're saying. And I'm not trying to be antagonistic here. However, your comment seems to me to stem more from youthful hormones than from your eyes and heart.

    Obviously, it's only natural to have some sort of sexual element to your appreciation of a woman's body, even represented in a photograph or painting. After all, the power that the female body has to attract attention is part of its beauty... But, that's not ALL it is.

    Also I believe that the "taboos" of representing the nude in art are created and imposed on us... Particularly in more "conservative" areas. Once a person un-learns these taboos, and replaces sentiments of "hot" or "sexy" with "Beautiful," a subtler, more profound and more rewarding appreciation emerges.
     
  70. >>>because it incites lustful thoughts of the forbidden in your head.<<<

    Hm. Possibly. Or maybe his good training has taught him to respect another's *privacy*, and
    that our private parts are just that. Maybe he knows that it's inappropriate to look at a
    woman who is not his own wife and is seductively posed in the nude.
     
  71. Janet, do you believe that all nudes are "seductively posed?"
     
  72. "it's inappropriate to look at a woman who is not his own wife and is seductively posed in the
    nude."

    Is this a call for women to wear burkahs in public?? I see plenty of women in public who can
    be said to be seductively posing with exposed navels and such. Maybe blinders for men
    would make you feel more comfortable.
     
  73. Back to the original question... you must have never seen one or you wouldn't have to ask...

    But seriously...you must have never seen one or you wouldn't have to ask...
     
  74. >>>Janet, do you believe that all nudes are "seductively posed?"<<<

    Michael, No. Of course not. If I thought that I would have said just that - nude figures.
    Surely you can tell the difference and know what kind of images so many take issue with?
    Honestly. These go round and round.

    Jeff. You've gotta be kidding. Yes - I think burkahs are it. Either nude or burkahs. Those
    are our choices. Blinders? Of course. There's surely nothing between.

    Ya'll are funny.
     
  75. "Jeff. You've gotta be kidding. Yes - I think burkahs are it. Either nude or burkahs. Those
    are our choices. Blinders? Of course. There's surely nothing between."

    When I arrived at college as a freshman, in 1966, handbills had been posted all over
    campus:

    LOOK AT HOW YOU LOOK AT HER!

    It was a powerful message that i'm sure cowed some lothario wannabees including myself.
    But it's a point that still needs to be made to some misguided men. As the proverb goes:
    "When a beggar meets a prophet he sees only his purse."
     
  76. Sorry, I mangled that:

    When a pickpocket meets a saint he only sees his pockets.
     
  77. Janet, thank you for re-joining the discussion.

    In response to your comment: >>>Michael, No. Of course not. If I thought that I would have said just that - nude figures. Surely you can tell the difference and know what kind of images so many take issue with? Honestly. These go round and round.<<<...

    I honestly did not think you considered them all "seductively posed." Who could, after all? And yes, I do certainly know the kind of images that so many people take issue with... tacky, tasteless... the list of adjectives goes on and on. But when I hear or read the term "nude photograph," it is the better of the genre that first comes mind, not the worst.

    Your response to Jeff that "There's surely nothing between" helps to illustrate the point that I'm trying to make: The whole genre of nude photography is not exclusively about tantalizing men with sexual imagery of "the forbidden." Surely in your experience you have seen one or two examples of the genre that you thought were decent, or beautiful, or thought-provoking? -Michael
     
  78. >>>Surely in your experience you have seen one or two examples of the genre that you
    thought were decent, or beautiful, or thought-provoking? <<<

    Yes, I have. And thank you for your thoughtful, honest response again. I love it when people
    can dialog honestly without attacks and defenses. I like it so much here when that goes on!

    Janet
     
  79. It's all about one's comfort level. That may be about sex, or about something else.
    FI: I love Jock Sturges' work. If his prints are showing in town I'll go out of my way to see
    them. But I'd never want to own one and poring over his books by myself would make me feel
    a bit odd. The openness and intimacy between model and photographer is what's on display
    in his work and I'd feel just as I would if I were walking on a beach and stumbled upon his
    photo session: Umm... excuse me. I'm frankly amazed that his subjects consent for their
    images to be part of the collections of people they'll never meet.
     
  80. this is my personal opinion, i don't expect anyone to agree with it, but i take nude photographs because, in my opinion, the human body is the most beautiful thing ever, and i want to capture that. thats all. many people also feel that way, thats why they too enjoy nude photography.
    now, but that can also be said about porn. yes many people find it pleasing, but only in a shallow, hedonistic sense, and, personally, for me, it loses all it's beauty. that doesn't mean that to some people porn can't be artistic.
    art is whatever you make of it. tasteful nude photographs or a "chick getting rammed up the asshole", everyone has to decide that for themselves.
     
  81. Well I can say this about all photographers on the internet: if you start shooting nudes,
    your pageviews will more than triple and you gain instant popularity (among other fellow
    erotic photographers, teenage boys, internet perves). Everybody is compelled to the
    human form. (Or repulsed by it in some cases). There's two reactions to a nude: "oooh
    click on it!", or "RUN AWAY!" Most people like to look. For art's sake, for desire, to get off,
    to compare, to complain...

    To me a nude that is about the art and not the body, is art. here are many photos, where
    lighting is just dead on, unflattering, and so posed (model smiling fakely... thinking "OMG
    I'm NAKED!! UMM KEWL" But who am I to judge? I don't do nudes... I do look at them, for
    whatever reason, I'm drawn to nudity, I'm curious. Men and women, fat, thin, ugly, artsy,
    stupid, pornographic... I always look at a nude. I can vouch for about 90% of the
    population I think.
     
  82. Erica, I apologize for not seeing this earlier. Email me?
     

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