Nude and Naked

The connotations for the words nude and naked could mean different things. If someone were to be nude in a portrait then that portrait could be considered to be artistic, but if someone were naked it could imply that the portrait is less artistic. Jonathan Jones explains this as “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.”

Thomas Ruff transforms the ‘naked’ into ‘nude’ in his project titled ‘nudes’, by taking stills from porn movies and changing the aesthetics of the stills so that they appear blurred. The resulting photographs appear more painterly and therefore could be considered to be uplifted into the realm of art. The subjects in the stills become more than just ‘someone with no clothes on’ they become more of a fantasy, or forms to be idealised.

Photography has been used as a way of exploiting the nude form, such as in Nadar’s photographs to document a hermaphrodite or Eadweard Muybridges studies of the bodies movements. “Exploitation lies at the root of every interaction between photographer and subject” – This quote by Sally Mann refers to her project ‘Proud Flesh’ which documents her husbands body, who is a sufferer of late-onset muscular dystrophy.



The following outlines the task for this week – “Building on the session workshops you should explore notions of Nude and Naked through your work. You should make at least one study of yourself and another of someone else. You will need to bring your experiences from task one and two to bear as you explore the dynamics of vulnerability vis a vis yourself, the subject and ultimately the viewer.”

I have yet to produce a self portrait but below is my study of someone on the theme of nude and naked. I had arranged to photograph a friend of mine nude, someone who isn’t very familiar with me photographing her. Although I did not fully understand what the outcome would be from this photographic session I thought it would be more interesting and more of a challenge to photograph someone I am not used to photographing. During the session I was surprised to find myself extremely uncomfortable, especially seeing as we have quite a close relationship and I’ve been around her previously whilst she’s been nude and I’m usually at ease with this. It was the camera that created this tension, although I’ve been in the presence of her nude form before I have never had the intention to look and photograph body. This made me aware I was exploiting her, as Sally Mann mentioned. I believe the portrait below documents this tension between us, which has been informed by the nudity.


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