#Picbod Nude and Naked lecture and workshop

So, in Thursday’s session we first of all had a lecture about the nude and naked. We discussed the argument between nude and naked. What means what and then what that means in the art world.

In the language of art, “good naked” is conveyed by the
word “nude”, while if you say “naked”, you mean “bad
naked”. The nude is posed, perfect, idealised; the naked
is just someone with no clothes on.
– Jonathan Jones

We looked at the series ‘Nudes’ by Thomas Ruff. In these he takes stills from pornographic films and blurs them to give them a more abstract look. This takes away the ‘naked’ and adds the ‘nude’. But the people are naked. The argument is very confusing and unanswered.

We also looked at documentation of the body: Sally Mann with her work Proud Flesh explored the documentation of her husband with multiple sclerosis over the course of his illness. This is not a scientific documentation, but has an emotional aspect to it. This is a far cry from Edweard Muybridge’s stop motion documentation. The emotional connection to the human condition in terms of photography also reminded me of Friends for Life by Ed Kashi which not only shoes the deterioration of a wife with Alzheimers and the human body, but the bonding of a friendship.

Hannah Wilke was a performance artist, yet she documented the effect of illnesses such as cancer on the body, exposing herself through the good and bad of her lymphoma up until her death in 1993.

We looked at the male nude. A nude male is a ‘male nude’ but a nude female is just a ‘nude’ highlighting how the art world is so commonly used to nude women. However, photographer John Coplans pioneered, as it were, it photographing the male nude. Himself. As an ageing man he photographed himself as a whole and up close allowing the viewer to identify and come to terms with the ageing body. It isn’t something that we, as viewers, like to view; but it is somewhat ‘refreshing’ to have an honest representation of the human condition.


The morning progressed onto a drawing workshop. Drawing in a photography class? Yes, that’s right. We sat in dark rooms with one constant flood light. Sat in pairs facing one another we were given several short tasks.

1) Draw your partner with just one line

2) Draw your partner without breaking eye contact

3) Draw only the light and the shadows

4) Draw how they carry weight.

5) Draw your partner only with shapes

6) Draw the movement of your partner

7) Absorb your partner and draw from memory


I was a little embarrassed by mine, but you can imagine the horror. But the tasks gave us the idea of how we have to consider much more than just the person as an ‘object’. Therefore, we should think, discuss and consider before holding a camera. A great tool which I have already instigated with my subjects for the third task.



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