Saturday, October 24, 2009
“OK, now take your clothes off.” My model and I had been working together for about twenty-five minutes. I shot about 125 photos of her in my living room as she posed on a couch wearing a slip and holding dolls. I found an ambiguity and psychology that was both innocent and also confrontational.
“Oh Steven, I am not ready . . . I need to think more about whether I want to pose nude.”
“I understand,” I said, “You know that I work with nude models, right?”
“Yes, I looked on your website.”
“If you do not pose, then I will find someone else, because I need to finish with my concept. I want a certain vulnerability that will come with an image of a nude alongside clothed dolls.”
“I know, and I am sorry if I upset your plans.”
I have been told that my nudes are erotic, but never that they are vulgar.
Eroticism is a peculiar human trait that has to do with sexual arousal. It is a dance in nature that we see also in other animals that preen and show off in spectacular ways—all to better attract a mate. The word comes from the Greek word for the god of lust and fertility, Eros. Eroticism is nasty in some prurient thinking, but I prefer to stay with the Greeks who thought Eros to also be the creative urge of ever-flowing nature, the firstborn Light for the coming into being and ordering of all things in the cosmos, an attendant to Aphrodite, harnessing the primordial force of love and directing it into mortals. As an artist, I must have a relationship with eroticism because it gives passion and sensuality that fuels my creativity. See Michelangelo’s slave sculptures or the colossal David.
A nude human, male or female, is one of the most treasured subjects in art. Just look in the art history books, or check out the work of some of the most famous photographers. An artist makes looking at nudes an acceptable, sensuous, and awe inspiring experience. We all wonder what is beneath other peoples clothing because we all know we are naked and pure. Art reveals the truth of our nakedness.
After my model demurred from disrobing, we continued and in the end, the session was fantastic anyway. Eventually, some of the images will find there way into my new work that is a combination of photography and painting.