Chus Martinez On The Art NudePosted: January 1, 2013
An art nude is a work of art that takes the naked human form as its dominant subject. The term is used for painting, sculpture, photography, and mixed media.
In the tradition of Western art, nudity was common in the painting and sculpture of classical antiquity. In the Christian era, early artists who used nude models included Michelangelo, Botticelli and da Vinci.
Many photographers of nude subjects began to use the term figure nude to describe their “art nude” photos, to avoid description of their works as erotica or pornography.
The term art nude is used for an object of art with a nude human figure making up about one quarter of the surface area and is not intentionally erotic. It does not involve the subject interacting with anyone or the face of the nude as a prominent feature. The nude human form presented is revealed as an object of art and not a person with reference to his or her social relationships and behavioural patterns.
Ruth Bernhard was one of the earliest to describe her photographs as “art nudes”. She particularly noted that she never photographed a nude with the subject looking into the lens. During an interview with Donna Conrad, the 95 year old Bernhard compared her nude photographs to those of Jock Sturges, saying: “I never have made a nude where there is a facial expression.”
Early photographers who have well-known works considered “art nudes” include Imogen Cunningham, Anne Brigman, Edward Weston and Alfred Stieglitz.