The Naked Nude by Frances Borzello


Walking around a Waterstones bookshop I came across The Naked Nude by Frances Borzello, published by Thames & Hudson. It was by pure chance that I came across this book and it has been a joy to read.

It covers the history of the nude as a form of art. The book does it in a way that is far from a dry chronological review but it describes how earlier works have influenced the artists through time. There is a perfect balance of showcasing pieces reflecting society at the time they were created, which in some cases challenging our views.

What interested me, in the book as a photographer, was that both in the art world and in the photographic world obtaining an image of the perfect body was the ultimate goal. How artists would get the curves in all the right places without a blemish in sight. Today it is easy for the photographer to do the same with the aid of a computer.

From the pages of fashion magazines to photographers offering intimidate portrait services often referred to as boudoir, we are constantly being offered the ideal image.

Borzello argues that many artists have tried to break free from the convention of perfection. Especially so since the invention of photography. Instead they have tried to reach some form of realism. A prime example being the BP Portrait Award 2012 winner Aleah Chapin with the work Auntie.

Has photography in the UK got to the stage where realism over takes perfection? My opinion is that we are far from that. The book even sets a case where photography has taken over the medium of choice for the image of the perfect body.

In my previous post I was surprised that there were photographers who did not want to take images of older models. I’m not sure why I should have been, with many online portfolios predominantly filled with younger subjects.

If in the western world there is an ever increasing older population, why are the images around us stuck at the “perfect” age?

I’m so glad that I did come across this in a bookshop, as it has made me re-think the way I look at art now. I’m sure I would not have found this book just going online. I want to keep bookshops in the high streets and the only way for that to happen is if I spend my money in them.