In Praise of the Art Nude Model

(Written by Stuart)

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Nude models, in my opinion, are some of the great unsung heroes of the art world. They work hard and with an iron discipline to maintain their physical condition. They frequently endure the physical hardship of being nude in uncomfortable or harsh environments outdoors, often for prolonged periods of time. Some risk a backlash in their personal lives, from friends, family or future co-workers as a result of posing nude. They literally give their whole selves to their art, stripped of anything to hide behind or of any shelter whatsoever.

And yet almost every time it is the photographer who gets the credit.

Now from a business point of view, that’s entirely fair. The photographer usually pays the model for her time, allowing him the rights to the photo, but artistically that leaves me less than satisfied. The model makes a fundamental contribution to the finished work of art and controls the final image in a way many photographers can never hope to match.

So I’d like to take a few minutes to sing the praises of a few individual models, all of whose work has inspired in some way our own photography.

But first let’s get the obvious statement out the way. All these women are beautiful. But there are many things that are described as beautiful. Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” is beautiful. Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony is beautiful. The re-entry scene in Gravity is beautiful. Clearly “beautiful” is too vague a word to describe the qualities these women possess and that’s what I want to briefly explore.

I’ll start with the artistic tour-de-force that is Ivory Flame. Ivory Flame goes beyond simple beauty, with expressive eyes, an elegant symmetry to her poses and a total domination of any image she appears in.

No matter who the photographer, almost every photo I’ve seen of her is stamped with her unique style. Perhaps it’s the captivating and haunting eyes of the first photo here  or in the third photo here. Perhaps it’s her preference for flowing poses that hide a multitude of symmetrical forms, well illustrated here.

You might think it’s her red hair, but even her black and white work holds her unique stamp. For example, there is no shot more typical of her work than this one.

She also seems to attract other creative types, leading to this truly amazing image.

Ivory Flame strikes me as an utterly devoted artist, posing not just with her body but with her soul as well. To my mind, she is unsurpassable, and is the model I most hope to work with one day.

Also, she pulls off the steampunk look like no-one else.

Joceline Brooke-Hamilton, in contrast to Ivory Flame, has a more physical and raw feel to her art. Where Ivory Flame has symmetry, Joceline Brooke-Hamilton so often has wild and energetic shapes, unpredictable and exciting. Elegant and statuesque, her work ranges from simple landscape  or studio nudes to work involving more physicality. A pleasing sense of mischief and fun can also be found in her work, after all there aren’t many models who are prepared to do public nudity in a blizzard.

Not only does she comes across as the most natural of nudes (her work is often used by naturist magazines), she frequently has a hard, gritty edge to her images and the more of her work you see, the less it comes as a surprise to learn on her CV that she’s trained in stage fighting with everything from broadswords to quarterstaffs. She is an overwhelmingly physical model, emanating strength and power in much of her work.

Now let’s try this the other way round. Stefan Soell, whose work is frequently found standing head and shoulders above everyone else’s on the Femjoy website  is one of my favourite photographers and he has a number of models that he works with on a regular basis and it’s interesting to see how his work is influenced by his model. Corinna, statuesque and radiant, always presents a sense of strength combined with pure natural beauty. Few models look like they’re enjoying themselves as much as the voluptuous and  mesmerising Susann and her work always seems to show how much she loves the wild and remote settings she’s so often found in. Anything featuring Julia often showcases the vulnerability of humanity within nature, although the model herself has an appearance that is anything but weak. Stacey gives a sense of mischievous innocence to her photos, Anna-Leah so often seems to wrap herself in mystery…the list goes on and on. Stefan Soell may have an unmistakable style but every time it’s the model who sets the tone.

I could go on. Roswell Ivory is another consummate artist, whose work is never less than exciting and fresh. Ella Rose gives us refinement and elegance often mixed with a bohemian sense of adventure. The list goes on and on, full of inventive and creative models who give their heart, body and soul in pursuit of exciting and creative images.

The model creates the image, the photographer just captures it. An inexperienced photographer with a poor camera can still capture interesting images, but if your model is no good, then the likelihood of getting a good image is greatly diminished.

2 thoughts on “In Praise of the Art Nude Model

  1. Awesome blog article, and thanks for introducing me to these new artists. I’ve always held a great appreciation for the human form which I why I started photographing nudes as a hobby years ago. I will admit that at first, I viewed the model as the subject of the image/art that I was trying to create. It was up to me to create and amplify the beauty of the model and the surroundings. My encounter with an experienced nude model is what changed my perspective dramatically. She contributed more to making the session beautiful than me. I was just a mere bystander that pushed the button on occasion. Yes, I am exaggerating but to prove a point. I developed such an appreciation for the model that started actively collaborating with them on what my vision was and modified my direction based on their input. My next evolutionary step was to move on the other side of the camera. As a model, I learned the challenge and difficulty of posing and creating something unique and beautiful. The experience has made me a better artist. I have the utmost respect for my co-artists. Some are just naturals at it but from experience it does take work to be good. I can now see the difference between nude photographs and nude art. Thanks again for your article.

  2. As a former Ringling College of Arts and Design model, I thoroughly enjoyed this article. It is so nice to see artists’ models recognized for their own art form. After ending a corporate career, I went into modeling. I loved it because it allowed me to express myself through my body. I modeled for 11 years, not only at Ringling, but at two other area colleges, four art leagues, several studios, and privately. Modeling can be very taxing on the body and I believe few people understand what effort really goes into a natural pose. I am proud to say that after 2 1/2 years away from modeling, I still have people telling me that I was one of their favorite/best models. Thank you for writing this article.

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