Study of a Nude
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Old 05-09-2017   #1
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Default Study of a Nude

I'm reading "Noble Savage: The Life of Paul Gauguin" by Lawrence and Elisabeth Hanson [1954], and a passage pretty much jumped out at me that I had to share.

From the chapter "Study of a Nude": "[...]the painter is a man like any other, brought up in clothes and to clothes. To him the female nude, paint it a thousand times though he may, is always a woman unclothed; he may not be interested in his model, but her nudity is not a natural state in the civilized world. He may not be aware of his subconscious feelings -- habit is a powerful deceiver -- but they act on him whether recognized or not. And he knows that to the public, for whom he is painting the picture, nudity is even less of a natural state. As a result his nude is always and obviously a woman posed. Indeed, the painter made a virtue of it; he posed his model heroically, in the classical style. The result is not inspiring as intended, because it is lifeless; these women, even when the painter paints them in abandoned or inviting attitudes, are no more than dummies. And as if to make sure of artificiality the painter deliberately painted and posed his model out of nature, far removed from reality. Her flesh is firm, flawless, her buttocks half-concealed or slimmed, her belly flattened, her shoulders elegantly drooped or braced beautifully, [...] so that the breasts are pulled firm and shapely. But even here that painter was not satisfied; the breasts, tautened thought they are by this artificial shoulder straightening, remain as all breasts must remain as all breasts must remain, with an unmistakable sag [...]. This sag the painter ignored, giving his models impossibly firm, round breasts. [...]The convention had been established through centuries and accepted for centuries. Then, with a single study, Gauguin shattered it."

This spoke volumes to me. Even if one doesn't shoot nudes, the basic message is clear, to find the soul of your subject. Gauguin's breakthrough was something not seen often. The subject's breasts sag, she has a protruding belly, she is mending an article of clothing, "taking no trouble to appear at advantage." This is life, exposed, not just sans clothing, but emotionally for the viewer.

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Old 05-12-2017   #2
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Default Re: Study of a Nude

If a photographer had taken an image that resembled Gauguin's Study of a Nude, would it have been considered a great work of art or just another candid?
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Old 05-13-2017   #3
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Default Re: Study of a Nude

I imagine that would depend on the skill of the photographer that captured the image.
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Old 05-13-2017   #4
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Default Re: Study of a Nude

The nude being depicted might also have something to do with the image's reception...
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Old 05-21-2017   #5
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Default Re: Study of a Nude

Quote:
Originally Posted by Narsuitus View Post
If a photographer had taken an image that resembled Gauguin's Study of a Nude, would it have been considered a great work of art or just another candid?
At the time? Or now?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Medowlark View Post
I imagine that would depend on the skill of the photographer that captured the image.
Haha, yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by scoundrel1728 View Post
The nude being depicted might also have something to do with the image's reception...
I think that's the point. Rather than painting the typical posed nude, he depicted the woman doing an everyday activity, with sagging breasts and a protruding belly. At the time, this was pretty shocking to the viewer. It's like Van Gogh painting the potato eaters.
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Old 05-21-2017   #6
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Default Re: Study of a Nude

Quote:
Originally Posted by Medowlark View Post
I imagine that would depend on the skill of
the photographer that captured the image.
You've really nailed the important distinction, a
concept revealed by using routine photographic
vocabulary. You refer to the hypothetical photo
version as a "captured" image and to the "skill"
evidenced in the act [art?] of capturing it.

Perzonally, what you suggest is easy to agree
with. But I'm more likely to believe that a photo
version would more readily acknowledged as an
artwork based not much on skill-in-capturing the
image, and much more so on a mammoth print
size. Not at all joking.
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Old 05-21-2017   #7
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Default Re: Study of a Nude

Quote:
Originally Posted by Narsuitus View Post

If a photographer had taken an image that resembled Gauguin's Study of a Nude, would it have
been considered a great work of art or just another candid?
This photo is not "just another candid". It's a recognized artwork:

krims_les_67_1998_440645_thumbnail.jpg

Debate this fact all you wish, but that won't change anything ......



https://www.icp.org/browse/archive/o...itcher-picture




`


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