Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Simplicity Of Gaze

Dear Anne,

One reason I don't do nude photography is because the internet is full of great nude photography -- why reinvent the wheel?

The best nudes make us want to contemplate them. They provoke in us an almost meditative state. Why is that?

I think it might have something to do with the way the best nudes ask us to see the human body in new ways. To see something in a new way is best done through contemplation, if not actual meditation. We must cease to judge it, and just see with an almost childlike simplicity of gaze.

Then again, the contours of the nude you see above are somewhat reminiscent of a Western landscape. Someone --- I'm sure he was French --- once said the body contains every curve to be found in nature. That is very true, and the best nude photography tends to illustrate the truth of his statement.

When I look at the nude above, I feel once again that the human form is both mysterious and inextractably a part of nature.


The above work comes from


Brendan said...

The purpose of art is, as Novalis wrote, to "make the familiar strange, and the strange familiar."

It's easy to lose site of the beauty of the human body because of its familiarity. But as racism and bigotry show, it's also easy not to see the familiarity when we focus on the strangeness.

Paul said...

Thank you for reminding me that art also serves to make the strange familiar!

I think in both cases, art is about the business of making us see with new eyes, although Novalis makes that point much better than I just did.

When you mention racism and bigotry, I cannot help but think of the opposition today to homosexual rights. I have said at times that for every difference between homosexuals and heterosexuals, there are a thousand similarities. Yet, the propaganda currently being put out by many on the Religious Right insists that the differences between the two orientations are significant enough to bring about the collapse of the family if homosexuals are allowed to marry. What is needed is more art that will show the similarities!