Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Von Gloeden

From Wikipedia: Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden (September 16, 1856 – February 16, 1931) was a German photographer who worked mainly in Italy. He is mostly known for his pastoral nude studies of Sicilian boys, which usually featured props such as wreaths or amphoras suggesting a setting in the Greece or Italy of antiquity.

Self portrait

Classical theme terrace

Iconical photo by Von Gloeden

In total the Baron took over 3000 images (and possibly up to 7000), which after his death were left to one of his models, Pancrazio Buciunì. Il Moro had been von Gloeden's lover since the age of fourteen, when he had first joined the household of the Baron. In 1933 some 1000 glass negatives from von Gloeden's collection (inherited by Buciuni) and 2000 prints were confiscated by Benito Mussolini's Fascist police under the allegation that they constituted pornography and destroyed; another 1000 negatives were destroyed in 1936, although Buciuni was tried and cleared at a court in Messina (1939–41) of disseminating pornographic images. Most of the surviving pictures (negatives and prints) are now in the Fratelli Alinari photographic archive in Florence.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Jack Gescheidt and the TreeSpirit Project

Jack Gescheidt is a California based photographer, environmentalist (East coast roots) and treehugger (West coast growth). His TreeSpirit Project is a collection of environmental art photographs by Jack Gescheidt—all made with volunteers—to draw attention to the critical role trees play in our lives and the ecosystem of which we are a part.

In 2007 he made a photograph to celebrate the Memorial Oak Grove in Berkeley, which was later destroyed as part of a development project. (I remember crying that day following the news coverage).

His most recent photo, displayed below, was made in John's Island in SC, around the Angel Oak to draw attention to the oak's grandeur and raise concerns about a developer's plans to build apartments and shops on a larger tract adjacent to the small Johns Island park where the tree lives.

"Angels" © 2011, Jack Gescheidt, posted with kind permission from the artist.

Being a photographer working with nudity in public places is not always a peaceful walk in the park, and this photoshoot attracted the attention of the police as covered in the video and related story. Fortunately for us, a beautiful photograph was made and no arrests were made. You can also read more in the photographer's blogspot page.

A disclaimer

There's no way around it. I like nudity in arts. I like freedom. I like individual choice. This will be apparent through this blog.

It's not going to be all about nudity in arts, but there will be a lot, especially in the early stages as I'm sharing information about artists that I have known for a while and that have inspired me.

I hope you enjoy this blog.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Jindřich Pevný

From his Facebook page: Jindrich Pevny was born on 17 January 1961 in Plzen, Czech Republic. He lives and works in the Czech-Moravian Highlands. [...] His professional artistic career started in the early nineties (after the recent changes in the political landscape of the Czech Republic). His mediums of expression are painting, plastic art and graphic arts. He has had more than fifty solo and group exhibitions.

Morning town

Jindrich is one of my FAVORITE painters. I instantly LIKE every one of his paintings that shows on my news stream on Facebook!
In the garden (woman and a bird)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Arthur S. Mole, John D. Thomas, Albert Arthur Allen

To understand Spencer Tunick, you need to look back in time.

Arthur S. Mole and John D. Thomas

"Living Portrait of Woodrow Wilson" created in 1918 with 21,000 officers and men

"Human Statue of Liberty" (1918); 18,000 officers and men

In the 1930s you can find photographer Albert Arthur Allen with very classical nude studies. However, from his production, a particular series stands out by creating textures through the use of several models in repeated or complimentary poses:

Spencer Tunick

Spencer Tunick became known by his photos of groups of nude models in apocalyptic formations in the streets of New York, and then embarked in a country wide tour photographing nude people in every state, which was released as a documentary called Naked States. A few years later a follow up documentary called Naked World was released.

As the masses of naked people increased, Spencer reunited 18,000 people in the Zocalo in Mexico, a number difficult to top.

Personally, I find more compelling and poetic his individual portraits and smaller groups. The image below was, chronologically, prior to the naked states tour.

Even after the El Zocalo installation, Spencer did a new series of individual portraits both in Mexico and Europe.

Ever since I saw Naked States, Spencer Tunick became a source of inspiration. I wished to be a part of one of his installations, and I also wanted to get back into photography. I was dealing with body image issues at the time -which I would soon realize were a phobia from my childhood. Well, it took a few years (and I had time to get back into arts and photography before it happened), but in 2007 I was part of one of his installations, at the Sagamore Hotel in Miami Beach, where the photo below was taken.

Now, several critics in the art scene don't give a lot of credit to Spencer Tunick. I've heard too often that he just keeps doing the same thing over and over, and that the most common reaction to his photos is: "wow, that's a lot of naked people". Heck, I've seen people react that way as well.

I think that:

* Spencer Tunick found a niche and has remained consistent in his work in that niche. Whether he is doing individual portraits, small groups, parties, or large scale installations. His exploration is about the nude figure on concrete, against a urban backdrop, in a non-glamour, non-sexualized format.

* Spencer Tunick's art has a certain community reach. It speaks to people, to non-artists who feel the desire of liberating their own inhibitions, improve their self image and relationship to their bodies, or just enjoy a socially nude environment and the transgression of being naked or seeing the nude figure where they would normally not be allowed to disrobe. Perhaps this community involvement is something that elitists and critics dislike. Art traditionally is something that the public gets to see from a distance, not something that they get to participate of.

* There is the old-age question of what is art, and what is expected of art. Perhaps we are looking for a too intellectual response to an idea that doesn't need to be that intellectual. Perhaps it's as simple as seeing an empty wall and wanting to draw a graffiti on it. Perhaps Spencer saw the grey concrete and wanted to pour some flesh on it to see what it would look like, and he just liked it.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Vanessa Beecroft


Vanessa Beecroft is known for performances that somehow transpire a similar motif to Spencer Tunick's installations: the nude figure, in group, in a transgressive, non-sexualized format.

I would say that Vanessa is not as concerned with the urban environment as Spencer, and her work is more "glamorous", including the fact that it's always female models, quite often chosen to be of a similar body type or skin color as part of the composition elements, and often using some partial clothing or props (note the boots in the first photo), while Spencer always insists in full nudity (no necklaces, no glasses, etc).

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Abajo Izquierdo

Another somewhat related artist is the Spanish José Abajo Izquierdo, who uses the nude figure as part of the composition, often painting the bodies to match or blend into the background. I find a certain joy in his work, like an element of playful mischief.

Just like Spencer Tunick, Abajo Izquierdo finds his models through his website and through his blog. His performances are captured through photographs and video.