|André Kertész, Distortion #6, 1932|
In the medium's early days—particularly in France, where Victorian notions of propriety held less sway than in England and America, and where life drawing was a central part of artistic training—photographs proved to be a cheap and easy substitute for the live model. While serving painters and sculptors, many nineteenth-century photographic nudes were also intended as works of art in their own right. Still others bore the title "artist's study" merely to evade government censors and legitimize images that were, in fact, more likely intended to stir a gentleman's loins than to enhance his aesthetic endeavors. Outside the realms of art and erotica, photographic nudes were made to aid the study of anatomy, movement, forensics, and ethnography.
In twentieth-century art, the body became a vehicle for surreal and modernist manipulation and for intimate odes to beauty or poems to a muse. Beginning with the sexual revolution of the 1960s, nudity and its representation took on new meanings—as declarations of freedom from societal strictures, as assertions of individual identity, as explorations of sexuality and gender roles, and as responses to AIDS. Naked before the Camera surveys the history of this subject and examines some of the motivations and meanings that underlie its expression.
Naked before the Camera at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, March 27 to September 9, 2012
|Brassaï , L'Academie Julian, 1931|