Friday, November 9, 2012

The Naked Truth

OK, after last weeks "different" post, that cartoon self portrait, here we are back in fairly familiar territory, the penciled nude.  I chose these two with the idea of comparing the drawing techniques used but quickly realized there was another topic to address. Regular readers of this blog can easily make those technique comparisons for themselves.

Years ago these particular images may have been questioned because of what used to be called "frontal" nudity.  I'm not talking obviously flaunted genitalia as in some contemporary art today but here in these works it is basically there in the presence of a simple line. Whether it was cable TV, modern advertising, graphic novels or perhaps the feminism of forty-five years ago that freed us from the censorship of the past where even pubic hair was porn, it's so very nice to have the freedom to depict the human body "complete" without embarrassment.  I am constantly amazed at the stance taken by otherwise intelligent people who still find this a problem as in recently heard references to models as exhibitionists and male artists who use them as dirty old men!

Models are everyday people earning a few dollars by posing for artists like myself who, at least initially, observe human anatomy so that in a future situation, perhaps needing to depict a reasonably natural person, might have the ability to construct an invented figure in imagined action. While artist's anatomy books are helpful, even a cartoonist or other artist depicting distorted character will benefit from this firsthand study.

Beyond that and more importantly, there is tremendous beauty inherent in the human figure. This has been pointed out by countless artists over hundreds of years. The female nude, beautifully drawn is a wonderful thing. I'm not speaking of famous fashion models or gorgeous airbrushed beauties ala Playboy, but of the natural beauty and dignity of ordinary human life and it's expression in the factual physical body. As I draw I am constantly awed by the way it all works together and humbled in my efforts to produce a viable version.

As to the depiction of particular body parts, I believe that anything in this world can be fairly and beautifully shown in the production of an expressive work of art. Sexuality is certainly part of our human experience and regularly shows up in novels, movies, dance and the visual arts.  Considering the range of work done by today's artists, no one should judge in advance the propriety of particular subject matter.  In terms of global artistic concerns I know this is beating a dead horse but there are places in this country still, where the sight of a woman's breast is an eye-popping event. Even breast-feeding is a barely accepted practice here!

So join your local figure drawing group, hire a model, produce some wonderful work and promote the human body as a beautifully natural subject.

"Woman's nudity is wiser than the Philosopher's teachings."   Max Ernst

"The nude portrait is only incidentally about the person in the middle of the room."  Paula Brook

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