Interpreting Fine Art Photography

Update: this article seems to have spawn a number of different opinions. Which, we must admit, makes us rather happy – discussion, as someone much brighter than me has said, is an exchange of knowledge. More importantly, argument is an exchange of ignorance. While the photograph described at the beginning of this article is not actually all that important for the said discussion, a lot of our readers have expressed their curiosity and wish to see the reason for this article popping up in my head. And no matter how tastefully and subtly done, please do note it contains nudity, and if that is something you’d prefer your children not to see – or something you would prefer not to see yourself – take caution. For the rest, click here and enjoy.

Several weeks ago, I came upon what I think was a magnificent black-and-white photograph. It portrayed a young, rather skinny woman laying graciously on the ground somewhere in a forest clearing, naked. She was lying on her side, half curled up around a large, moss-covered rock. So different from it in most every way possible – warm, alive, sensitive – she was embracing it gently. The photograph was taken from directly above the young woman and, through the use of loose central composition, negative space and beautiful natural light, she, as the main subject, would instantly draw the viewers eye, her skin so pale and bright against what must have been dark green, brown Autumn foliage. While I will not be publishing this photograph here for obvious reasons (Photography Life is 100% child-safe and will always remain so), I must note there was not a hint of erotica about the photograph. Rather, a very subtle, tasteful tribute to the human body. Fine art. Pure, light. Airy somehow. I called it sensual at first, but many misunderstood me, or perhaps I chose the wrong word. Sensuous is a much better fit. I could not help but admire it for what seemed like hours. And then I read a comment left by one of the viewers: “This is not a portrait. It is a piece of fine art nude photography”, – he stated.

Interpreting Fine Art Photography

What I had not immediately noticed, was that the author specified his work as a portrait rather than an example of artistic nude photography depicting the materiality (or, perhaps, spirituality) of a human body and its place in, and coherent with, nature. But, at first glance, it was hardly a portrait. The subject’s body was definitely presented very graciously in a very aesthetically pleasing, interesting manner, but one could hardly make out her face all that well, let alone study it more deeply. Did the author make a mistake defining his work whilst publishing it? Instead of jumping to that conclusion and agreeing with the comment left by one of the viewers – agreeing with my own initial interpretation – I opened up my mind and, just for a second, looked at the photograph as if it was indeed a portrait. If the author did not make a mistake, his attempt to introduce the photograph as a portrait was deliberate. Which means that there was a reason to do so. And I was simply staggered by what I saw. “This is not a portrait. It is a piece of fine art nude photography.” Wrong. It was a portrait. Very much so. Calm, poetic, and much, much better than if it were just fine art nude. Simply because it was so much more personal, so much more profound and powerful as a portrait than it would have been if interpreted the way that seemed more obvious, more natural at first, whilst retaining all that was so positive of my initial interpretation. Seeing it as a portrait added depth to what was already a pleasing, well-sorted photograph. And you couldn’t even see her face properly.

It would be a little silly of me to try and explain why I felt this photograph was so good when I can’t even show it to you, but, as contradictory as that may sound at first, it is actually not important. What is important is the number of questions that instantly popped up in my head as soon as I interpreted what seemed like an artistic nude photograph as if it were a portrait, a conclusion one would hardly draw without the author’s aid. If a photograph that does not even show the subject’s face can be interpreted as a portrait, what is a portrait in the first place? What defines it as such? And since I raised that question, might as well ask – what is a landscape? A nature morte photograph? How far can one actually stretch such a concept, how far can you superficially move away from your idea in your attempts to profoundly visualize it?

In order to answer these questions I must, ironically, leave them be for a while and form another. Throughout the years that I have studied in the Faculty of Arts, I have been faced with this one following question again and again. How much artist’s input beyond the actual work of art is needed to interpret it successfully? Is it valid and justified to refer to a title, perhaps a description provided by the author along the work of art, even his own merits, biography, whilst trying to unravel it? Or does the strength, impact of such a piece lie in its own richness, and the work should “speak for itself” without any added explanation and context, if it was ever to be worthy of admiration and appreciation of the brightest among us? Both opinions have been fiercely defended (and, as a result, fiercely attacked) by students and teachers, and I envy those who have enough criteria, enough strong arguments to stick to just one. Such ability is beyond me, for I have always managed – and, in a way, failed – to understand either one. Because a title, a complimenting story, even a music playing in the background during an exhibition can too, be a part of the art. We are long past the time when a painting could only be just a painting, a musical composition – just a composition. You can thank synthesis of art forms for that. But then, in a way, accepting such aids also imposes a sort of a limitation on the work of art restricting, narrowing our interpreting possibilities. This idea was discussed in detail by a French philosopher, literary critic and semiotician Roland Barthes in his essay, “The Death of the Author”. I find it necessary for me to elaborate on this concept a little further in order to solve the questions that arose at the beginning of this article.

If I were to (over)simplify his idea, Barthes stated that interpreting a work of art (in his case, literary work, but the idea can be easily adapted to visual arts) on the strength of our knowledge about the author, the creator of that work, limits our choice of potential associations and conclusions about that work. And thus, “death of the author” is a necessity if one is to successfully “take in”, say, a portrait photograph. One must lose the weight of context that is the author and anything beyond the work of art itself to be able to see all that it can be subjective, individual and different to each of us. Once there is no author behind the work of art – and that happens the moment you start dwelling deep into it – the viewer himself becomes its creator, for he sees not what the artist wanted to show, not what the artist saw, but how he himself can relate to the work of art.

What is a portrait? A landscape, a nature morte? Combining these questions gives us one. What is a work of art? Is it what the creator presents us with – that which we can touch, hear; what the creator wants us to see and feel? Or is it what we make of it, what we feel and understand while observing the work without any guidance, subjectively as if we are the creators? Is it our state of mind and the story that unfolds, as we try and unravel the photograph in front of us? Roland Barthes’ idea would lead us to believe the answer is the latter, while those who appreciate creator’s context, guidance, those who want to see what he saw and feel what he felt would probably support the former conclusion. Whilst observing a photograph that was either a portrait or a piece of artistic nude, I had a choice of which concept to base my interpretation on. A choice is a good thing. And I chose both. In this case, I decided to merge the two philosophies, two points of view into one. This portrait, it didn’t tell a story of a person through her face, her expression. Instead, it showed her mind, her state. And through that, through showing her body, allowed the viewer to know her even without knowing her face. And this knowledge about her was based on the photograph itself, on my personal affection, experience, feelings and associations, which became possible with some help from the author. Anyone else would have seen the work differently, but even in that case he would have been aided by the author to create, finish his work. Or one could discard any guidance from the author and choose to see the photograph for something completely different, as long as it resonates with that person in some way.

So what we have is a photograph that is not a portrait, but also is. Because we can choose to see it this way. We can also choose not to. Which brings us to the final question. How far can we stretch such an idea? How far can we move away, in the face of it, from what we are trying to show, only to show it more profoundly? The photograph that provoked me into writing this article, at least it had an actual person in it. Can a landscape be a portrait? Can a portrait be a nature morte, a still life photograph? Once again I must ask you to imagine something. Imagine a pair of round, small, thin-framed glasses in a brightly lit room. You can’t exactly see all of it, but the fragments of the white surface on which the spectacles are left on are enough for you to realize it to be a beautiful, slightly worn white grand piano. The scene is lit by natural light coming from enormous windows just outside the frame. Now, one can choose to admire the lightness of this still life photograph. The beauty of the light, subtle pale, sharp reflection in the glass of the spectacles. Or, one can see it as a portrait of John Lennon. And if the artist, the author of this photograph lends you a helping hand of sorts – a title “The Portrait”, well, all the better. You can choose not to see it if you so wish. If, in your mind, a pair of glasses can not be a portrait.

Our ability to understand and creatively interpret fine art photography – any work of art, for that matter – rests solely on our experience, sophistication and education. And not just the artistic education, mind you. If, whenever you look at a specific photograph that is a portrait, all you see is a secluded lake somewhere amid fog-hidden hills and mountains, with a single wooden red boat ashore, then that portrait is a landscape to you. The fact you also have a chance to see a portrait which the artist wanted you to see, how he wanted you to see it, only makes interpreting fine art photography that much more interesting.

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Allan Wood
    December 8, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    Well Romanas, I think this was well written; well done and made me think. I am sure though you have opened yourself up, naked, in the window, to the incoming!

    • December 8, 2013 at 3:16 pm

      Allan, already I am under attack, but it is expected. :) Thank you, I am glad you liked the article.

  2. December 8, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    In my profession as an architect, talking about fine art photography without images is like me handing my clients five paragraphs describing what their new house will look like without any drawings. “Child-safe” in this context is more akin to “child-ish”. Strange coming from one with an unmistakeably European name. Besides being an architect, I am also Austrian. In most of Europe, tasteful nudity is used to great effect in advertising as well as being totally normal in fine art. Europeans nearly universally would find Photogaphy Life’s position on fine art nudity as risible, if not outright ridiculous.

    • December 8, 2013 at 3:23 pm

      Wil,

      there’s this concept called “theory”. And this article, while born because of a particular work of art, is still theoretical. For this reason I believe that the provided illustration is sufficient.

      As for child-safe and child-ish, that was not only a bit aggressive from your side, but also narrow-minded. I also think that tasteful nudity can do no harm and I am all for it. I also fully understand that our website is visited by people of all ages, from teen to elderly, and not every parent would be happy if his child would see a photograph of a naked woman, however tastefully captured. You don’t have to agree – and I don’t have to agree, for that matter – with such concerns, but that does not mean you or I should disrespect them, too. And what you just did was disrespect everyone else’s opinion but yours. I had strict instructions not to publish the photograph I did my best to describe in a sufficient manner, there were reasons behind it that I had to respect, and so I followed the instructions. There is no reason for you to respond the way you did.

      Have a good day.

      • 14
        ) Pierre Lecerf
        December 8, 2013 at 5:27 pm

        Romanas,

        I couldn’t help but answer to your comment and give my take on the subject : I am from France, where complete, crude nudity in arts has definitely been common sight for more than a century, idealized nudity has been for hundreds of years.

        Given that, I must say that I too, felt quite frustrated with the lack of material. I really enjoyed the read, but think I can understand, the aggressiveness put aside, how Wil could feel frustrated by the “incompleteness”, maybe I could go as far as “overall emptiness”, of it due to a very strict no-nudity policy.

        I’m all for flexibility, to account for many kinds of people, but don’t you think a textual warning with an active switch within the page content could fit in your views of what is “Child-safe” ?

        On one hand, you could encompass more of it, and not just scratch the surface. And from a “study” point of view that would definitely change the quality for the better.
        On the other hand, the writing might need to be structured in a specific way if you want to make it readable for everyone, which is extra-work.

        From my point of view, I really don’t think it’s possible to do more than scratch the surface with such non-comprehensive limitations, and if that’s just scratching the surface.. then what’s the point ?
        I won’t interfere with everyone’s view on “what is proper child education”, but I can’t help but give my take for what is, overwhelmingly, a website for grown adults that only wish for the very best content you can provide (and you already provide in so many ways !).

        Best regards,

        Pierre

        • 16
          ) Pierre Lecerf
          December 8, 2013 at 5:52 pm

          Some parts of my previous post seem a bit too heavy/blanket-statement-ish, so, just to make sure :

          I think this article is good. It is good content.
          You took a more theoretical approach, which is an important aspect too. But you did talk about this particular piece of art. Doing so without even an external link to it definitely feels frustrating. Above it all, discussing theory without material (although you already had it at hand) WILL be lackluster.

          • December 9, 2013 at 1:25 am

            Pierre,

            you were much more convincing that Wil was before you. Thanks. I’ve provided the link to the photograph at the top of this article.

      • December 8, 2013 at 6:39 pm

        I think Will should understand, that, in this country, cosmopolitan and enlightened people are vastly outnumbered (if not just out shouted) by virulent, rabid legislators and gatekeepers of the type morality that comes with a ‘little’ knowledge, and that your site would be litigated to exinction without the ‘risible’ and ‘ridiculous’ policy that you currently adhere to… It is a fact that these times seem governed by unenlightened people so consumed with internal demons that they cannot view skin without a little tingle- and they must disallow, in all society, anything that stirs such things in their own souls, and they have the full support of most governing bodies in this country… (read my comment to the original article).

      • 33
        ) Jorge Balarin
        December 9, 2013 at 2:20 am

        Dear Romanas,

        If you have instructions you must follow them, but, personally I think that “Photography Life” is an adult page, and I think that it is ridiculous to not publish an artistic nude photo. I can not understand that sort of puritanism in a society – that by other side – shows and offer extreme violence indiscriminately. What is wrong with a child seeing an artistic nude ?

        • December 9, 2013 at 2:50 am

          Jorge,

          I am not here to teach parents how to raise their children, nor should anyone attempt to do the same. It is not my business if someone does not want to show his son or daughter a photograph of a naked woman, no matter how subtly and artistically done. I might not agree with such way of raising kids, but I can respect someone else’s decision to do so.

          Photography Life is mostly an adult website, yes. But, as Nasim has pointed out, “the articles on the site are used by schools and universities, where nudity is often forbidden.”

          Having said that, a good compromise is providing a link to the photograph, which I have done (at the top of the article).

          Thank you for your input!

          • 60
            ) Jorge Balarin
            December 9, 2013 at 6:57 pm

            And what are doing in those schools and universities to teach classic art ? Are the ancient greek sculptures and even the naked angels of the renaissance censored ? Are those “educational institutes” sending their students to europe, where they could see naked statues on the street ?
            Best wishes.

            • December 9, 2013 at 11:08 pm

              Jorge, having operated a huge site in the past with tens of thousands of members, the topic of nudity in images is something that I am very familiar with. Unfortunately, there is a very thin line between human body as art and erotica / sexuality that divides people and causes too much grief. For some people, seeing a naked body in a photograph represents art and nothing else. For others, it is much more than that, especially when rendered in modern “fashion-style” photos. And some photographers do take it to the extreme and combine art, sexuality and even pornography, all labeled as “art”. So how do we define what’s acceptable and what’s not?

              Having gone through all these intricacies and endless debates, I came to a conclusion that it is simply best to avoid something that creates too much heat between people…

      • December 9, 2013 at 2:31 pm

        I’m nothing if not outspoken, as anyone who knows me will tell you unequivocally. That said, I was gratified to see that my commentary, however unconvincing, elicited such studied and in some cases philosophical responses. I make a distinction between theory, such as is embodied in superstring or M-Theory in theoretical physics, whereby no experimental proof can be offered; and, a discussion of portrait versus fine art, where I would argue illustration is essential. Perhaps it’s my profound contempt for a culture that deifies violence and hypermasculinity, but can’t keep its hormones in balance to distinguish between tasteful nudity and pornography. The link to the photograph TOTALLY complements your discussion—a point that would be corroborated by many of the respondents. I meant no offense, but I would be lying if I claimed that I have not enjoyed the lively discussion that has ensued.

    • December 8, 2013 at 4:00 pm

      Wil, despite the perception of certain groups or countries towards nudity, we have a very strict rule here at Photography Life about such things for a number of reasons. As Romanas pointed out, we want to make the site friendly for everyone, no matter what their age, origin or religious backgrounds are. In addition, the articles on the site are used by schools and universities, where nudity is often forbidden…

    • 43
      ) David Ahn
      December 9, 2013 at 1:25 pm

      I agree that there’s nothing wrong with tasteful nudity (especially captured powerfully and evocatively), but I believe this article is not about the specific image but rather about what makes a portrait a portrait. I agree that the effusive praise of the photograph by Romanas made me curious as to what made it so great and could it help my photography. :)

      • December 9, 2013 at 1:51 pm

        David, you are quite right, the article is not about the photograph at all. A lot of readers, however, seem to have shifted their attention, but it is understandable. Nudity is a topic that will almost always attract heated discussions.

  3. 3
    ) Mike
    December 8, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Romanas, Terrific article. You address some really fascinating points. Though you have described the photo, is there any way you can provide a link? Or have I missed the link somehow? I have only recently discovered the wonders of photography over the past few years. As a neophyte I often wonder if, for example, a street photographer’s work would be classified as a portrait or as something else. I think you know what I am trying to say.
    Personally, I really enjoy the work of other photographers no matter how they are classified, I find it truly inspirational to see the world in images captured by others. Thanks again for a great read on this Sunday afternoon!
    Regards,
    Mike

  4. 5
    ) Allan Wood
    December 8, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    Maybe the concern of Photography Life is risible, but this is the US after all. From the description, I aquired a simple mental image; sometimes the written word can do that.

    • December 8, 2013 at 3:25 pm

      Allan,

      we are global, and that is why we try to find a compromise that works for everyone. In this case, the compromise is not to show nude photographs, which I otherwise have absolutely nothing against.

      • 9
        ) Allan Wood
        December 8, 2013 at 3:32 pm

        Yes you are, so the balance is appropriate. Years ago in my country of birth, the mere printing of the words ‘nude’ or ‘naked’ was enough to set the people howling. While that has changed, in many other countries even this post may not go over well.

        • December 9, 2013 at 1:26 am

          Perhaps you would be interested to see the photograph after all. Pierre convinced me with his well-put commnet. You will find the link at the top of this article, Allan, enjoy!

  5. 11
    ) Allan Wood
    December 8, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    I think folks, that this thread has moved from the point of the original post. Yes?

    • December 9, 2013 at 12:17 am

      What a fantastic article, Romanas! While I would enjoy seeing the photograph in question, it’s not the subject of the article. To see the photograph would take away from the article. It would take a cerebral discussion and distract with the visual. I love the theoretical discourse and conversation with yourself. The photograph was only the spring board for the discussion of the theory! I understand this and struggle internally with the same delima when I share my artwork whether painting, drawing or photograph. I want the work to stand on its own with no help from me, yet I also want to disclose what I was thinking/feeling during its creation, too! If there was a photograph with this article, I think I might be distracted by it. Having to visualize the photograph sent my mind in a different direction and allowed me to try to solve the problem posed of whether or not to disclose. Because there was an empty space to fill, my mind found an answer. I envisioned artwork displayed with a cover over the description and title. The viewer has the option to interact with the artwork from his own perspective, but he also has the option to learn what was in the creator’s mind, too.

      • December 9, 2013 at 1:29 am

        Jennifer, I enjoyed reading your comment, thank you. You are quite right, publishing the image would actually detract from the discussion, but not publishing it has done so, as well. For this reason, a link to the photograph where I originally found it is now at the top of the article. Enjoy :)

  6. 12
    ) Peter
    December 8, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Well said: “Our ability to understand and creatively interpret fine art photography – any work of art, for that matter – rests solely on our experience, sophistication and education.”

    This concept is also very true when it comes to music; hence the difference between popular and classical music. Education provides the knowledge necessary to elevate our appreciation of greater art forms than
    the ordinary stuff. How many people know who Puccini was? Ever read Don Quixote by Cervantes?

    You want to know what great art is? Take an art history course for starters.

  7. 13
    ) Andy Schmitt
    December 8, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Romanas
    I’m frequently amazed by your posts and this is a prime example of what I mean.
    You have presented a cogent, balanced discussion of a complex issue that most of us have rarely considered.
    What I find truly incredible is you are still in college.
    I’m looking forward to continuing to read your posts for years to come.
    (I agree with Mike, I am interested to see the image to see how I interpret it.)
    Thank you

    • December 9, 2013 at 1:35 am

      Andy,

      you are too kind. Thank you. If you would like to see the described photograph, there is now a link to it at the top of the article.

      Once more, thank you.

      • 37
        ) Andy Schmitt
        December 9, 2013 at 7:54 am

        Romanas,
        Thanks for putting up the link to the image.
        The funny thing about all the nudity bruHaHa is that this image is completely facebook acceptable…
        regards
        Andy

  8. December 8, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    I have dealt with this mentality all of my cognizant life as an artist. I have come to realize that it is a cultural, and more specifically, a theologically cultural mindset that must codify images of people into sexual/non-sexual context. There is, I believe, in this country a cultural mindset that cannot separate nudity from sexuality. Yet, there are many sexually provocative images in media with all parties fully clothed- yet take away the clothes, and regardless of the actions the images portray, a certain number of people will think ‘sex’, ‘sex’ only and nothing but ‘sex.’
    I have done figure studies since the 70’s, and my children grew up knowing and understanding ‘art’ for what it was, and what it represented. Once, when they were young, a friend of theirs came into our house, and upon noticing one of my paintings, the friend remarked in that familiar song- ‘uuuummmm, that’s a naked person…’, to which they (twins) nonchalantly replied with a glanced to the picture, ‘oh yea, yes it is.’ I knew then that the culture that my children grew up in was different from the uptight bible belt culture we are mired in…
    People who can separate nudity from sex, seem to me, to be more fully qualified sentient beings- more human ‘human beings’ with an appreciation of the aesthetic beauty of the body, no more or no less than the aesthetic beauty of a landscape or a vase of flowers. BTW- take a look at nature and notice how many places you can see human like shapes and forms, like a tree, or flowers- shapes are shapes folks. That’s what photography is about, capturing shape, form, color, light and shadow- look with your big boy eyes and notice that life repeats shapes across kingdoms, classes, genus and species.

    • December 8, 2013 at 7:22 pm

      Tim, very nicely said and both Romanas and I agree with most, if not all of what you’ve said. However, once you start dealing with nudity as art, at some point it starts to mingle with sexuality and that’s the part that can be problematic on a site like ours. I personally would not want to get into the whole “NSFW” tagging business on anything that shows too much skin, because some might feel offended. And like I have pointed out above, there are schools that teach photography and refer their students to our site, so we have to be careful about what we show here. I think a better policy going forward will be to include a link with a warning text, but I am still against the idea of actually posting nude photos here.

      • December 8, 2013 at 7:39 pm

        I did not elaborate here (but I did in a reply to Will from Europe), but my statement was not an indictment, but rather a summation of the type of environment we face in this part of the world. I whole heartedly understand why you have such a policy- it’s just a shame that the mere presence of skin in an image introduces a litany of issues that endanger your ability to continue your educational efforts.
        I, however, am not in this business of placing my art in public forums, and will continue to create in the manner I choose. I find your site both informative and empowering- just no ti*ties!

    • 22
      ) Steve
      December 8, 2013 at 7:47 pm

      I don’t know artsy from fartsy and am not a big fan of nude photography, though I have nothing against it. Generally, I find there is ‘nothing new under the sun’ with nudes. I like uniqueness, and a highly descriptive post with not a hint of jpeg to support it is certainly unique!

      So, I’m torn between needing something to look at, and remembering the old line: always leave them wanting more.

      Hoping to not get barked for posting links to something not mine, Mother Nature in all her naked glory:
      http://www.ultrafeel.tv/wp-content/uploads/image/tree-that-looks-like-naked-woman-baum-frau.jpg

      http://www.thatsweird.net/Pictures/amazing_tree.jpg

    • December 9, 2013 at 1:40 am

      Tim, thank you for that. You are quite right. And yet.. we still need to find a compromise, one that works for the “more human “human beings””, as you said, as well as those of “uptight bible belt” culture.

      Perhaps including a link to the photograph at the top of this article is a good way to solve this. If you are curious, take a look.

    • 42
      ) Patrick O'Connor
      December 9, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      I don’t mean to pick out anyone in particular but I was inspired to comment based on your comments. While I don’t agree or disagree with anyone on this subject, I think your comments are sufficiently representative of a general lack of respect for the thoughts and feelings of others. A lot of the comments generated by this subject evidence a feeling of intellectual superiority that is foolish. Frankly, the whole subject is silly to me. Note: the most important words in the preceding sentence are, “to me.” My point is this: you can’t argue that statement. It is my opinion and is absolutely correct as such. Your opinions are interesting and, in some cases, well thought out but no more valid than anyone else’s. If you’re unsure of that point, empty your bowels and take a good deep breath…

      • December 9, 2013 at 2:33 pm

        Agreed, each and everyones opinion are valid and subjective- with this type of issue, there is no one correct objective observation… but my (subjective) point about the US culture has, to me, been borne out by how these responses seem to fall into to somewhat polarized categories- one category which, given enough time and effort, would have this site eliminated…

        • 52
          ) Patrick O'Connor
          December 9, 2013 at 2:52 pm

          Surely, you aren’t suggesting that there is such a thing as “US culture”!? Often, my Japanese friends and family (through marriage) will ask me some question regarding how Americans think or act and I always reply that there is no such thing as a typical American. Go to New York, and you’ll get a hundred answers to any question; Indianapolis, a hundred more. If you were to poll the entire country and reduce the answers to the largest minority, you would be no closer to the truth than before you started. But, of course, that is MY subjective point of view.

          • December 9, 2013 at 3:34 pm

            …well… some of us have culture.

            • 55
              ) Patrick O'Connor
              December 9, 2013 at 3:37 pm

              [grin] Obviously I meant a unified culture, not a lack thereof…

  9. December 8, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Roman, I think if you want to discuss a photograph you should pick one you can show. I think it is perfectly possible for a sufficiently excellent writer to discuss a photograph in abstract, but this is an unnecessary handicap to inflict on yourself knowingly. Perhaps you wrote the piece and then discovered you couldn’t put the image on the site, and this was an attempt to salvage the writing.

    Anyway, to address what i think is your key point — trying to understand what an artist intended by a work of art is not the be-all and end-all of artistic interpretation. To begin which, artistic creation is not entirely a conscious process — upon reflection artists themselves often do not know exactly what they intended or meant. A good deal of what passes for this kind of artistic criticism is, essentially, bunk.

    • December 8, 2013 at 7:17 pm

      “— upon reflection artists themselves often do not know exactly what they intended or meant.”

      This has been so true for me all my artistic life. Sometimes, for me, art is the action my insides take to let my outsides know what’s going on…

    • December 9, 2013 at 1:44 am

      Tonio,

      I would like to rephrase your statement somewhat – artistic creation is not *always* an entirely conscious process. At times, it is.

      As for the article, you misunderstood. I was not trying to discuss a photograph at all, rather how one is to interpret any photograph – any work of art, in fact. The photograph is just what made me think of this, itis a reason for the article being written, not the subject of it.

      Having said that, the link to the photograph can now be found at the top of this article. Enjoy.

  10. 23
    ) q.w.khan
    December 8, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Dear you also know that nudity based art is against the social norms, as you mentioned “…While I will not be publishing this photograph here for obvious reasons…. ”

    it depends how you portray your thoughts to public, who ever was in picture may be did for economic reasons, 9i may be wrong ) but if we ask those artists who does not like to show their creativity by art-nudity, they are clear about the social norms, i will not discuss religion here but most of the religious mind people will not agree on nudity in art. Hope you will not mind my comments.

  11. 24
    ) Daniel
    December 8, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    Wonderful essay, Romanas! I enjoy and eagerly await all of your contributions to this site!

  12. 34
    ) Penny
    December 9, 2013 at 2:22 am

    I really enjoyed your article! I don’t always know what elements to look for in photos or landscapes that would help me define the beauty of it. So, thanks for the lesson!

    On the topic of nudity, I am one of the “child-ish” and “unenlightened people so consumed with internal demons that I cannot view skin…” However, I don’t see nudity as art. There was a time thousands of years ago when nudity was the norm, but Adam and Eve messed that up. The first thing God did after they sinned was put clothes on them; and He has insisted on it ever since. I’m sure that angers many. It angers me too. I would have a lot more time if I didn’t have to do so much laundry each week or worry about body image. I love photography and art; and I also love my young children. I take great care in protecting their innocent eyes from nudity in any form.

    Nasim, I respect your resolve to keep your website friendly to all ages. Romanas, I appreciate you respecting the rules; and for writing a creative article that allowed the readers to see what you see without seeing it. :-)

  13. 36
    ) MartinG
    December 9, 2013 at 6:36 am

    I have to says that I enjoyed the article far more than the image. I have no objection to the subject matter. I would rather not debate the merits of the use of the model. I know Art History discussions sometimes argue (see John Berger) that nakedness is quite different from the nude in intent and purpose. I see this a nakedness. I think he says (in summary) that the subject of an image displaying a nude is aware of the viewer and inviting admiration. The naked could not care less about the potential viewer. We were all born naked. No one was born nude.

    As for the image, I cannot see that it offers much insight into character or place. Obviously that is a personal view. I do like the background texture and the rock is interesting. I could see a point if there was another person on the other side, completing the circle around the rock..head to toe. Ying/Yang ? That would offer a more interesting subject. I am not sure if the other person should be male or female. (And that would raise some issues) I do think the rock should be their focus not one another. As it is shown it looks somewhat incomplete. To me it is missing some visual elements but it does have some potential.

    How much it has to say must surely revolve around the scenario it presents and the questions it poses.

    • December 9, 2013 at 11:30 am

      Martin,

      part of why I like the image is because she could not care less about the potential viewer, she is not even aware that there is one. She seems lost in herself and that state, I think, is what makes the photograph interesting.

      I also like the Yin/Yang allusion and glad you noticed it – I must admit I didn’t, at first, and I should have. However, if the symbol was complete with both opposites present (most likely a male on around the other side of the rock), I’d think it to be a bit too predictable. And perhaps in the symbol’s incompleteness lies the photographs completeness, strength, twist, surprise, room for interpretation.

      I am glad you expressed your opinion. It is very interesting to read what others think about the work. Thank you for sharing.

      • 44
        ) Patrick O'Connor
        December 9, 2013 at 1:28 pm

        While she may not care less about the potential viewer, she most certainly is aware there is one. Oftentimes, people forget that art is entirely representative of the artists thoughts. As such, it is NOT representative of any reality. The age old question of ‘what is art’ is thus very simple. The question that people think they are asking is, “what is valid art.” Only the audience can answer that question.

        As for me, for this particular photo, it generates no interest in the photographer’s thoughts or inspires me to give any thought to it and therefore, is not art.

        • December 9, 2013 at 1:48 pm

          We will have to agree to disagree, Patrick. Again, it is about how the work resonates with that particular viewer. It speaks to me, and if it does not speak to you, well, there is nothing wrong with that.

          As for the question worth asking, I would not dare call art valid or not.

          • 49
            ) Patrick O'Connor
            December 9, 2013 at 2:20 pm

            That’s okay. You’re entitled to your wrong opinion ;-)
            Actually, I think we’re probably, generally, in agreement. My point is that art, as a creation, is representative of the artists thoughts. If you find your own message in something, whether it was created as art or not, it is your art. As an earlier poster wrote, sometimes art is created incidentally. I think the word “art” is more an idea than something that can be defined by examples. As you state, it resonates with a particular viewer so nothing is universally “art.”
            For me, all attempts at art are poor representations of God’s art and, as such, inconsequential. If, however, an object helps an individual to feel or think, it’s all to the good; so long as they can separate the object from reality.

      • 65
        ) MartinG
        December 10, 2013 at 12:26 am

        Thanks Romanas,
        I see your reasoning. The image is open to interpretation. I don’t see it as exploitative and I cannot see any reason to make a fuss. Exploitation and inappropriate images do not need the model to be disrobed at all. In this case I agree that the model seems completely uninterested in the viewer.
        Can I suggest Max Dupain? http://www.maxdupain.com.au/gallery3.htm
        The image shows only flesh – no clothing. Is it a nude? No, he is ignoring the camera. Is he naked? Probably not, but it is irrelevant. The photo is from 1935 and captures the human form in an interesting way. He does have some nudes but his photography is always artistic. The series around the lifestyle of beach goers has a lot to offer.

  14. 38
    ) David
    December 9, 2013 at 11:09 am

    I am a classical trained music and have spent years as a professor of music. In music, we deal with questions like this all the time, perhaps because music (without words, that is!) is arguably the most abstract of all the arts. For years, I have believed that what the artist (composer) intended is not all that relevant. In certain works, say a programmatic tone poem by Richard Strauss or Claude Debussy, one can glean a certain insight into the piece by knowing the title, but what about a symphony by Beethoven? (Not the 3rd, 6th or 9th, of course.) There are no descriptors attached to these works. The experience is pure music – pure sound – without any kind of programmatic intent.

    So how do we deal with a work that has a programmatic intent. With Vivaldi “Four Seasons”, can someone really hear the difference in temperature and climate within these four concerti? I can’t.

    I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation on the music of Olivier Messiaen, specifically how he treated Roman Catholic chant in his compositions. These excerpts were deeply meaningful to the composer, but I have never been able to ascertain a difference between the music that he intended to be a chant and the music he just wrote because he was so moved to do.

    So I totally agree that it is up to the observer (listener) or a work of art to create his/her own impression/interpretation. If the author’s title (or intention) adds to the work, that can be helpful, but one should not be limited in trying to understand a work of art in the say the author intended. That would be artificial and counterproductive.

  15. 40
    ) Andrew
    December 9, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    Romanas,

    All great works are not without controversy. Even my use of the double negative could be construed as controversial. The beauty of art in all of its forms is that it is what it is only in the eye of the beholder. Some of the most beautiful fine art nudes I have ever seen gave no indication of the location of the body being shown, but from the images it looked like a vast landscape to be explored. Paging Dr Freud!

    Anyhoo, thanks for the well thought out discourse on art. I’ve seen a few lately in regards to Photography. At least we are using photography and art in the same breath, something equally controversial a few years ago.

  16. 41
    ) Lee Jones
    December 9, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Again? Naked girl in the forest? Find a prostitute, make her all bight long and in the morning. After, take your camera and go out and you will realize that the reality is more than naked girls and boobs.

    Moderated: this sort of ignorant, offensive, narrow-minded jabber will not be tolerated, Lee. If you have an opinion you would like to voice, do so in a respectful and civilized manner. Difference in opinion is one thing, what you just did was act a jerk. If you think you are the only smart person and “understand art and reality” better than just about anyone else, or otherwise have nothing smart to say, best not to say anything at all. Have a good day.

    Romanas

  17. 45
    ) MartinG
    December 9, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Pity about that sort of comment is that it makes all kinds of moralistic observations.

    My point is that I wanted to discuss the merits of the image without being abusive. Do a Google search on John Berger ‘Ways of seeing’ It is from the seventies but worth watching. Especially about the use of nudity in Art.

  18. 48
    ) Lee Jones
    December 9, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Read about Froid’s concept of Sublimation. On 100 females you see 1 male. Females mostly young skinny naked (according to the contemporary fashion), young girls prostituted by “art”-pimps. You would not think about posting an image of your sister or your mother naked in the forest. But as long as it is “a model” not relates, it is ok. It is most of the times girls that the photographer can imagine share a bed with them, or fit to the standard of “worth a penetration”. Sad but true. Lets us all expend our orizon. Art is much more than naked females. And if you don’t want your mother or sister to pose naked in the forest or pose like a prostitute in a dark bar – it’s probably not an art (at least as long as porno is an art).

    • December 9, 2013 at 3:33 pm

      Lee, enough. Yes. Females are photographed more often. I personally believe a female body is simply more beautiful than that of a male, and yet I’ve seen dozens and dozens of male artistic nude photographs which I found immensely powerful.

      It is true that sex sells. But not every photograph containing a beautiful naked woman is driven by sex. I will repeat myself, “Our ability to understand and creatively interpret fine art photography – any work of art, for that matter – rests solely on our experience, sophistication and education.” If you are so brave (read – arrogant) to claim you know the reason behind author’s choice of model, if you think that even Froid’s ideas are somehow “true”, we don’t have all that much to talk about. Truth is also rather often a subjective matter, whilst “some” is not equal to “all”.

      No one is forcing you to love the photograph. This article is not even about the photograph and you should know that if you read it. Either way, you are expected to be respectful of someone else’s work.

    • 58
      ) Jorge Balarin
      December 9, 2013 at 6:35 pm

      Now my sister is not young anymore, but if she would be younger I would be very happy to photograph her naked. What is wrong with beauty and with a beautiful body ?

      • 70
        ) Lee Jones
        December 10, 2013 at 4:32 am

        So let it be your teenage daughter.

        • 84
          ) Jorge Balarin
          December 10, 2013 at 12:51 pm

          My daughter is not a teenager. But I must tell you that perhaps the best photo that I ever did is a nude photo of her. She was like three years old and she was standing nude over a marble rock, in front of the Ionian see. Only a sick man and a completely stupid one could think that that photo is pornographic.

          • 116
            ) Pierre Lecerf
            December 19, 2013 at 6:40 am

            Enough with this.
            I unsubscribed from updates because of stupid comments like yours, I can’t fathom the abysmal intellectual situation you must be in to spill such nonsense on a website like this one.
            Two things :
            – You’re taking things completely out of context to spit out your nonsense. Nothing in the comment you’re answering to has any kind of correlation with what you suggest.
            – Even if it had, he doesn’t have any right (and never said he had) over his daughter. If his daughter considers it reasonable to do WHATEVER she wants to do that is legal (be it flat-out pornographic), then let it be. His father, on the other side, has the right to be in any moral stance he deems reasonable. If his daughter does what she wants to. He thinks what he wants of his daughter.

            You think what you want of those two individuals but you have to be respectful of their opinions. You’re not. You are what is wrong here.

            Also, I have a hard time believing you’re not the same exact person that posted the other non-sensical comments under different names on the same topic a few hours ago.

            • 120
              ) Bill
              December 20, 2013 at 6:53 pm

              I think Lee focused Jorge just about how HE will feel about it. Not about “right over his daughter” or legal stuff. When I read Jorge responses I see that he has a lot of understanding to Erotic & Porn-Like art-works, as long as the model is not his young skinny naked daughter. And this tells us a lot about his understanding of the situation of the young girl in the shooting. He does not want his daughter to be there, but at the same time “enjoy the art” when it is “just a model”.

              • December 20, 2013 at 6:56 pm

                Bill,

                there was no reason to talk about erotic or pornographic images in the first place. THe photograph that I described (and linked to) in the article contains neither erotica, nor pornography.I think the topic is now exhausted and the discussion has taken a highly unpleasant turn. Perhaps this is really enough.

          • 122
            ) Jorge Balarin
            December 21, 2013 at 10:08 am

            Bill, I want to think that you have good will, and just you didn’t understand me. So I will try for the last time:

            One thing is an artistic nude, or a beatiful photo of a beautiful body, and another thing is a pornographic photo. I have nothing against a beautiful nude photo of my daughter. One of the best photos that I ever did is a nude of photo of my daughter. For me that photo is a little bit like Boticcelli’s “Birth of Venus” (I don’t know if you consider this painting pornographic).

            If one day my daughter – once and adult – decided to pose for an erotic artistic photo. That’s her decision; and to start there is nothing bad about that, as there is nothing bad about erotism. Pornography is another thing. Now I have not time to talk more about the topic, so I must let it here. I hope this time you understood me. Best regards.

            • 123
              ) Lena
              December 21, 2013 at 5:21 pm

              Beautiful body of a young naked girl is art? Because she sexy? Orherwise I don’t understand why not 70 years old nude model? You can get the same composition in both cases.

              • December 22, 2013 at 11:04 am

                Lena,

                not again…

                Why don’t people think before they write something like this? I am sorry, but your comment is neither here nor there. What makes you think the author photographed a young woman because she was sexy? Why can’t he have had other reasons? Is that the only reason you can come up with? This might have been the only model he had available. This might have been his girlfriend, whom he wanted to photograph. I, too, want to photograph people that are close to me. Finally, this woman might have been what he needed for his idea. Yes. You can replace the woman with a 70 year old lady. And compose it exactly the same way. But do you not see how the image and its message would have been different?

                From what I see, the problem lies not in the people who like and understand the photograph, but in those who don’t. It seems as if upon seeing a beautiful, young body, the only conclusion, the only reason such a person can draw for its portrayal is sex. That’s just… shallow. And narrow-minded. That photograph has nothing to do with sex or erotica.

                Enough. Seriously, enough. This isn’t a discussion, this is just some weird attempt to bash any photograph that contains a beautiful woman just because it contains a beautiful woman. Perhaps I’ve seen plenty of other models, other photographs, different photographs, to see this one for what it is, not for what the angry mob wants to see it. Enough, please.

      • 125
        ) Jorge Balarin
        December 22, 2013 at 11:04 am

        A beautiful body is not art in itself, and a beautiful flower or landscape are not art too. What could be art is what the artist create with those elements, as a central or marginal part of a work of art. You can buy a beautiful sunflower for a few bucks, but, do you know how much must you pay if you want to own the Van Gogh painting called “the Sunflowers” ? The same thing happens in photography. On the same way not everybody is able to create a work of art with painting, not everybody is capable to do an artistic photo, regardless the beauty of the figure that is represented. The flower could be perfect, but my photo of it could be a perfect failure.

        For us, a young, well proportioned body is beautiful, and a decayed and old one it is not. That’s a fact. However that doesn’t mean that you can not create a work of art using an old body as an element. It depends of what you want to represent. Boticcelli would be an idiot to use an old model to represent “The Birth of Venus”. Sheer beauty, innocence, freshness, joy and life, are qualities that are better served with young models; by other side old models could be linked with wisdom, understanding, benignity, but also with desease, decay, deterioration and death. In every kind of art there are great masterpieces showing those last features that are not precisely beautiful, however those features could be part of a work of art. Think on Goya’s paintings of his “Black period”, or the famous Tomoko Uemura’s photograph of her naked and crippled daughter being bathed by her mother. That last photography is strong and beautiful in his own way, but it is not the kind of photo that you will hang in your dinning room.

        I start to think that a work of art is the one that can strongly transmitt a message, emotion or feeling, through the “artistic and wise” use of various elements. Best regards.

    • December 10, 2013 at 2:54 am

      What you respect is YOUR honesty and what YOU think is the truth. And it is only your opinion. Let me tell you a secret – your opinion is just that. And it deserves as much, or as little respect as anyone else’s. Whichever way you decide to put it.

      You have a huge difficulty telling perversion, porn, commercial nudity from artistic nudity, you see them as one. And you, I think, are wrong to do so. In my opinion, what you are saying serves only to show your lack of education in the matter, and your opinion is equal to that of any other uneducated person who is quick to shout and scream that nudity is evil, that the world is perverted. Childish.

      As for the artist, he is young. Why, why should he not photograph young woman? And if the woman in the photograph is his better half, why should he not photograph her? Why should a young person photograph old people, only to photograph young people when he’s old himself? People like you would see that as perversion, too. He is young. He photographed a young woman. That photograph has absolutely nothing – NOTHING – in common with pornography or commercial or otherwise tasteless nudity.

      To answer your question about photographing naked relatives. You are right, a photographer would not. A photography artist – would. Why not? It only makes sense. Already I can see a triptych in my mind, and I am absolutely positive someone has already done it. Photographed his/her mother naked, his/her sister naked, his/her brother naked, him/herself naked. I know people who would, who would find it an interesting topic to explore. They are my lecturers at the Faculty of Arts.

      What you did here was come with your prejudice about nude photography perhaps mostly disappointed by what can be seen all around us nowadays – commercial photographs printed on huge stands showcasing young, skinny, plastic woman with enormous breasts and what not. Perhaps you are disgusted with pornography. It does not matter. You don’t seem to know the difference between that and artistic photography. You don’t look deeper. And there isn’t much reasons to find in a shallow, superficial mind, which you are showing in this particular case by being so aggressive and not allowing the slightest chance that you might be wrong by simply showing respect to other people’s opinion. Even words like “I think” and “In my opinion” would likely be enough to change what we are doing here into a mutually well-mannered discussion.

      I can accept your opinion as yours and respect it as such even if I disagree with it. As someone has already said in the comments, it is mildly fascinating to see people disagree so wildly on one topic. But there are two problems. The photograph is not the topic, first of all. The photograph was just the reason I came up with this essay. It could have been any other photograph that was something else than it appeared to be at first. It was this one, that is it. The topic is not the photograph. The other problem is the manner in which you express your opinion. It is vulgar and disrespectful and crude. You are acting like a jerk, and that I can not accept. This is not some other photography website where people are used to being jerks. We do not tolerate that sort of behavior here. If you don’t start expressing your opinion in a calm, respectful manner, I will be forced to remove them just as I did with that rant you posted, and I responded to in this comment.

  19. 56
    ) Lee Jones
    December 9, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    One last comment: Art is not about “what sells”
    Well not the Art that I do, or refer to.

    • 59
      ) Jorge Balarin
      December 9, 2013 at 6:44 pm

      Go and see the work of Mapplethorpe (try to enjoy it). His photos have porno topics, however they have aesthetic qualities that make them works of art.

      • 66
        ) Lee Jones
        December 10, 2013 at 2:29 am

        Try to enjoy porn art? You are a pig. I can be a pig also. I choose not. That is why I do not enjoy porn. Watch/produce porn of your young daughter, if it hard for you to understand these words.

        • December 10, 2013 at 4:35 am

          Enough, Lee. You clearly make no distinction between nudity and pornography. I am pretty sure Jorge gets it. I am not sure your refusal to see a difference makes him a pig.

        • December 10, 2013 at 5:58 am

          You distorted his words to an absolute and used that for disgusting offense. I am removing your last comment. The discussion that the two of us are leading further down has finally transformed into something more or less civilized. This, what you just did right there, made you look like a complete idiot. I strongly suggest you back off with all the insults you are throwing around at anyone who disagrees with you. Otherwise, you will be welcome to leave this website. For the final time, we do not tolerate such manner of discussion.

        • 85
          ) Jorge Balarin
          December 10, 2013 at 1:09 pm

          Sorry Lee, but we can’t choose some things; you are the outcome of God’s will, or the outcome of the crazy race of a drunk spermatozoid. If you are dumb, you are dumb, and you can’t do very much about it. Think that the work of Mappelthorpe is pornographic, even when he shows explicit sex intercourse in some of his photos, shows that you have not been lucky with your neurons and culture. By.

          • 111
            ) Julio
            December 18, 2013 at 5:11 pm

            Jurge, I like Mappelthorpe a lot. Some poeple don’t understand that explicit sex of a 2 models is not porno. Since we share the same artistic opinion, may you send me you daughter when see 16. I want to make a project of her in sexual intercourses with one of my favorite male model (very masculine). Very artistic. not porno!

            • 115
              ) jorge Balarin
              December 18, 2013 at 8:12 pm

              Julio, you are a real coward. You will never tell something like this im my face, because I would make you pay for it. I hope you understand a little spanish, and now hear this: Andate a la remil puta que te pario, concha de tu madre !!

            • 117
              ) Jorge Balarin
              December 19, 2013 at 12:30 pm

              Dörf Schneider, you could find inspiration on your own daughter, and if you don’t have it, go on, ask your mother. An something more. If you are not a fucking coward, and as your name suggest, you are living in Germany or Austria, give me your address, and then we could talk personally about your propositions.

              • December 19, 2013 at 3:05 pm

                Jorge, please, this is enough. You should know, there is no point in talking to such people, they can be beyond reason. If this continues, I will have to start removing comments.

            • 119
              ) Jorge Balarin
              December 20, 2013 at 11:44 am

              Dear Romanas,

              My patience has a limit. I tried to keep this debate on a civilized way; but it seems that with some people that’s not possible. And yes, I will like that you erase some offensive and stupid comments, done by some cowards under false names. Greetings and best wishes.

          • 112
            ) Anna K.
            December 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm

            I can just wish you Jurge, to watch your daughter with your friends and other family-members, in Mappelthorpe style explicit sexual intercourses. I am sure you will enjoy that “art”.

            • December 18, 2013 at 5:56 pm

              Anna, Julio, I am not going to pretend I know much about Mappelthorpe. Because I don’t. I have not seen his work, nor have I read anything about him, watched a film, studied his biography, read what critics had to say about him. I am not even going to discuss porn with you, because, believe me or not, there are two sides to a coin. But instead of attacking Jorge, here is what I want you to imagine and think about.

              Imagine an artist. He, like you, hates modern industry of porn and the amount of commercialized sex on every corner. He, like you, thinks people should try and imagine their own relatives in those situations, with someone watching them. He, like you, would like people to feel sick just by hearing the word “pornography”. But, unlike you, he is ready to do something. And, as we know, gentle measures change nothing. You need something shocking to see a real change. A revolution to change a country. A scandal, a brutal, in-your-face, ugly truth to make people see it. So instead of shouting at everyone “STOP WATCHING PORN!”, he does something completely opposite. He films it. He tries to make it as hideous, as vomit-inducing as he possibly can, and then he shows it to you. What is your reaction? You hate the guy and say he’s filming porn and calling it art. And this is where your unsophistication shows up. Because, if the artists goal is to make you feel sick just by hearing the word “pornography”, and he manages just that, he is good. He did what he wanted. Instead of shouting “STOP WATCHING PORN!”, he does something to stop you from watching porn, he finds people who share his beliefs, who would shoot a porno just to make a point, just to make one think about their relatives in that sort of a situation and, by doing that, to make them feel disturbed and disgusted by pornography. And that is when you watch artist’s ugly, vomit-inducing work and nod approvingly. Because suddenly you are very much aware of the feelings that fill you as you watch. It is not that you are filled with feelings and understand nothing else, but *you understand what feelings are filling you up*. That is a huge difference. Suddenly you understand you are disgusted. And suddenly you understand the artist did this to you. On purpose. That is when you realize why that particular work is art, what he did, what he meant to do and why.

              It is not always the work. It is the effect, the goal, how he makes you feel. That is what makes an artist, in some cases. That is also what I’ve learned studying art for those years that I have. An open mind always helps. It is easy to criticize what you do not understand. The problem is that, to anyone who does understand, that makes you look.. well, silly, frankly.

              Now, as I said, I know nothing about Mappelthorpe. I’ve never studied him. I do not know the idea, the concept behind his work. And because of that, I will not go on bashing him, his work or Jorge, because that would mean I am a fool. I would be talking about something I do not understand. So here is a question. How much do you know about Mappelthorpe? Have you read about him anywhere – books, articles, philosophy of contemporary art? Have you seen a film about him? Have you studied his work to make such bold accusations? If you have, go on, bash him. If you haven’t, go on, bash him still. In the first case, you’ll have arguments to back up your opinion, real, weighty arguments to fuel a real, productive discussion. If no, you will make yourself look silly and that’s only worse for you, no one else.

              I’d never go and tell a mechanic how to fix a car, because I do not know how to fix a car. He does. And before throwing advice, I’d have to become better than the man I would be throwing the advice to. Remember, “Our ability to understand and creatively interpret fine art photography – any work of art, for that matter – rests solely on our experience, sophistication and education.” That sentence, it actually means something, I did not say it just because I thought that, perhaps, it sounds cool and would make a good summary point. Not at all.

            • 114
              ) jorge Balarin
              December 18, 2013 at 8:09 pm

              Anna, I’m going to tell you something in spanish, and I really wish you can understand it:
              Andate a la concha de tu madre, perra de mierda !!

  20. December 9, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    Well this has been a very interesting article… the comment responses have been pitting neighbor against neighbor in the unending battle between differing opinions… and, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt, that beauty (aka, Art) is truly in the eye of the beholder.

  21. December 9, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    I think the direction seems to be this… Some art must be behind doors with warnings, and that you, the observer, must know what you might encounter when proceeding through that informed door. The author, in this case, presented an article, which referenced an image quite purposely omitted, and explained the omittance via a policy as part of the content of the article. Then the author presented a door to the image, and well warned readers could view the article in question… what has followed has been a melee of subtle and not so subtle right and left bashing, and (like I pointed out in my original post) those who see nude art and those who can’t separate nudity from sexuality. With the former, you can only assume what they might be thinking of the art, and with the latter you know quite well they were thinking of coitus.
    But the crux of the original, true point of the omittance, was that the owner of this site knows his/her audience (which includes students and educators) and wants to make sure that no right swaying or left swaying readers are alienated, without due process, as to what art is on the other side of that metaphorical door…
    [personally, I didn't like the picture one bit. It was OK photographically in the normal measurable ways, exposure, composition, etc., but I found the model to be too skinny, and it actually conveyed a holocaustic feeling to me. But that was the artist's choice, and hey- maybe that is what s/he intended. Nonetheless, I was the beholder, and I didn't see beauty- but it was no less a work of art in spite of my assessment.]

    • December 10, 2013 at 3:55 am

      Thank you, Tim.

      At first, I liked all the discussions. Now, they seem to have taken a rather unpleasant turn. Not to mention that they revolve around the photograph more than the article, and it ought to have been the other way around. But, as I see it, some people are so shocked by nudity, they have no strength whatsoever to look past it.

      As for art being known as beauty, that is a very different topic, and one no less fascinating.

    • December 22, 2013 at 12:08 pm

      I couldn’t agree with you more, Tim. Well said.

  22. 62
    ) Mark
    December 9, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    After reading this article, and suffering through the grammar mistakes and lack of sentence structure … I find yet another person trying to justify their selfish lust with words like “art”, “tasteful”, and “enlightened”.

    Photography, like anything can be used for pure and decent purposes, and it can be used for perverted, indecent, and immoral purposes. However, like this person, their argument is so without basis that it consists of name-calling. As when he called people he disagrees with – narrow minded and even uptight. How ironic.

    Many people today would describe a photo of a man having intercourse with a 10 year old girl as “art”. Or they might call it – an “adult” photo. As if all adults are perverts. Whenever you see terms like “adult video”, you should know that the term is really “perverted adult video”. Once you open the door to porn being “art” you cannot then complain about art forms of incest and rape. After all, if you don’t agree with that art, then you are just narrow minded. You need to be enlightened into the ways of perversions.

    Men love to lust. They love to watch porn at the expense of anyone and anything. They think that using words like “tasteful”, “subtle”, “sensual”, etc. will make their lusting appear normal.

    You can call it whatever you want. You try to impose your values on others with phrases like “this form of porn can do no harm”. The truth is it can and does immense harm. Many people will subject themselves to all forms of humiliation and disrespect for money. And men will gladly fork over money to feed their perversions.

    A real artist can produce works that you don’t have to censor from decent people. Any pervert can produce porn. It takes real skill to relate to decent people in decent ways.

    Sure, there will always be lots of men who will defend their right to feed their lust and indecent desires. Even men who vowed to honor and respect their wives … but if you are into porn, what is a little deceit and dishonesty? They vow to die for them – and then dishonor them and pretend it is enlightenment. Their selfishness is more important than respecting others.

    Thankfully this site is for decent people. There are lots of porn sites out there that you can go to. You don’t have to pervert this one. Too bad they have to enforce decency … and respect. Sadly, it is rare to find.

    • 63
      ) Patrick O'Connor
      December 9, 2013 at 9:28 pm

      While I agree with some of what you say and respect the intent behind the remainder, I would not attack the authors literary skills given that education in any particular area, or lack thereof, is not an accurate indicator of the intelligence or wisdom of an individuals thinking. Avoid generalizations: you state that “men love to lust.” Does that include you? You then go on to cite arguments that have not been made in this forum. Lastly, you attempt to distinguish yourself from indecent people, as if you are morally superior to anyone. Humility is more difficult to find then respect. Slow down. Take a deep breath. Look at yourself first. Identify the response you seek and withhold anything that is counterproductive.

    • December 10, 2013 at 3:48 am

      Mark,

      I’ve had several discussions with several people in here so far, all of them shared a different opinion than mine, and only a couple of them received cruder words from me. I do not discard an opinion that is different to mine. I discard those who do not know how to express it politely, who, as Patrick said, attempt to distinguish themselves as if they are morally superior to anyone. They are not. I am not. You are not. But the way you jab me for my grammar is an indication that you think you are. I’ve had people correct any errors I make in a much different fashion. The idea is the same – to show me that I made grammatical errors. Perhaps indicate said errors, so that I can correct them. It’s the way one lets me know of the errors that is so different. You had to “suffer” through an article. I am very, very sorry to hear that. Here are a few facts – I am a Russian born in Lithuania and English is FAR from being my first language. Here is a more important fact – I am trying to improve all the time. And if you found any errors, be so kind and let me know so that I can fix them and do my best not to make the same mistakes again. But if you just want to righteously jab at my writing skills, you can keep that to yourself.

      What is more important is that this article wasn’t even about the photograph, something I thought an intelligent person would surely notice. The photograph served only to fuel my ideas for this article. Its description was needed only to show the difference between how a regular viewer such as myself first saw it, and how the author of the work saw it as something else entirely. It could happen with any photograph. A pair of spectacles on a white grand piano presented as a portrait. In other words, almost everything you said is not even on topic.

      There was no lust in my writing. None at all. But people see what they want to see. I use words like “tasteful” and “subtle”, because I can see the difference between pornography and artistic nudity. It is a line I drew myself. Someone would draw a different line. You, for example, seem to be absolutely against any sort of nudity. That’s fine. I can respect that. I even find it interesting. I will not respect your jabs, nor will I respect you for your lack of respect for someone else’s opinion.

      This article is not about nudity. It is not about what men want or do not want. It is about interpreting art – any sort of art. But you see what you want to see. Alright. Then let me tell you this. I can bet that, for every person in the world, any argument in the world against nudity, there would be another person, another argument for it, or at least not against it. And I am not talking about pornography (pornography as a social, cultural phenomena is also explored by artists. Some mock it and are disgusted by it, others admire it. I do not take sides), because there is no pornography in this article. I am talking about fine art nude and its definition. Are you so arrogant as to claim you are right and the other person is somehow an idiot to not see anything wrong with nudity, one that I and many others would call tasteful? I would never call your opinion somehow worse than mine. The way one expresses it, on the other hand…

      How can you say what is decent and what is not, in general? How can you define what is pornography and what isn’t? You can only have an opinion, one YOU believe, one YOU live by. And if you found the above mentioned photograph pornographic, I am sorry, you have no obligation to look at it. Again, the article is not about the photograph. I do not see that photograph as pornographic, not in the slightest. I have no lust for that woman and not a single sexual thought has crossed my mind. If you think a man can not look at a naked woman without thinking sex, it might be you are judging others by your example. I have to disappoint you. I have a very clear distinction between what is sexual and what is not, and am able to look at a naked woman from an entirely artistic standpoint.

      So then. My opinion is different. One more time, are you so arrogant as to claim that your opinion is somehow superior to mine? It is DIFFERENT. It is not superior, not “truer”.

      • 72
        ) Lee Jones
        December 10, 2013 at 5:30 am

        For example: nudity of tribal woman in Africa: young, old, skinny, fat – undifrentiated, natural, not “behind doors”, hidden from childs. When you look on the face of a nude model in the western society including the artistic society, its always either soducoing or de-humanized: like showing only small part of the body, like the lins of an “object”), An evidence of the monotheistic notion of the woman that seduces the man to eat the apple in the Garden of Eve. Do you imagine naked male in the forest with skinny boddy and beautiful dick? Do find the find the beauty of that? I guess not, unless you a gay. You find the beauty of young girls that you attract to them. And this is 100% ok – find a girlfriend (and don’t sublimate sexual attraction with art), and don’t prostitute others, and don’t consume it. Sexuality is not something a young girl need to share on the internet with fat old perverts, that are unpleasent that they can’t enjoy the “beauty” of 13 years old girls nudity.

        S

        • December 10, 2013 at 5:49 am

          Lee,

          again, I am not sublimating. I am seeing a difference. I’ve had answers to all your previous questions, I can answer this one just as well. You want me to show an image of a young naked male model? Sure:

          http://1x.com/photo/14934/

          You can see no more or less of this model than of the young woman lying on the forest ground. He is also naked. And I would use the same words to describe this photograph – it, too, is tasteful and gracious and subtle. And the man is both young and beautiful, and of approximately the same age as the woman. He, too, meets today’s popular understanding of what is a beautiful man, just like the woman model in the forest photograph meets popular understanding of what is a beautiful woman, and the question of beauty that you so like to emphasize is an entirely different discussion. Anyway, I find the photograph of this man even more interesting than that of the woman. Now, according to Mark, I should come out of the closet at this point as a gay person, because “men love to lust” and I think that the photograph is very, very good. And I am not gay. Which only shows how narrow his thinking is. There is absolutely nothing sexual about this photograph and I am quite certain a lot of people would agree. Mainly because he is male. But as soon as a female poses naked, all hell breaks lose simply because some people can not separate a naked body from sexuality and think that no one else can, too. Because they can’t. Well, sorry to say, but I can. And so do a lot of people.

          Should you wish so, I could show you a photograph of a male who is half-naked, but the photograph is no better or worse for it. Or I could show you a photograph where a woman is half-naked, and then there is also a naked man. And it, too, is just as tasteful, gracious, subtle, and not sexual.

          For the last time. Yes, sexuality is not something a young woman needs to share on the internet with fat old perverts. True. But the photograph you so blatantly accuse of being pornographic has no sexuality in it, nor anyone who is 13 years old. It is the difference between artistic nudity and pornography that you do not see, and I do. Fine. Don’t see it. Just don’t bash all those who do.

          • 75
            ) Lee Jones
            December 10, 2013 at 6:54 am

            Oh, really… In nude galleries (Photography), you find 1000 images of naked very young female (40 is “too old” – *most* cases, not all) on each 1 images of naked male. In portrait galleries much more balanced: young, old, male, female. Even 60 years old photographers focuses on 18, 20 years old skinny “beautiful” girls.This is not coincidential. When you describe a girl with “sensual” it is already “sexual” – in that point it enters the lands of soft-porn. For many people porn is also “Art”. But lets call it in it’s name.

            • 76
              ) Patrick O'Connor
              December 10, 2013 at 7:16 am

              pornography: noun
              1. printed or visual material intended to stimulate sexual excitement.
              hmm… Nope. Not excited. Not even a little. And I’m about 60 and pudgy (not quite fat yet).

              sensual: adjective
              1. relating to the physical senses, especially as a source of pleasure.
              2. arousing sexual or other physical gratification.
              You do have a point on this one. However, I for one, wouldn’t describe the photo as sensual. Personally, I had no reaction to it at all. I’m not sure what caught the attention of Romanas but I looked at it for about 10 seconds and thought, “meh.”

    • 86
      ) Jorge Balarin
      December 10, 2013 at 2:19 pm

      So you make love with your clothes on and asking for forgiveness ?
      “Per se” (in itself) there is nothing inmoral in sex and nudity, and nothing wrong about arousal. God wants we make love more than war. Of course, like in any other human activity, there is the risk of bad taste, vulgarity and abuse. It is natural and good to make love, but you don’t do it in the subway in peak hour, or against the will of your partner.

      For me it is clear that art is a legit place for erotism, and I have nothing against erotic representations in art. But here we are discussing something that even is not openly erotic. A well proportioned nude human body is a beautiful thing to see. Something that gives happiness to our soul, and that treated with sensibility could be an element of a work of art. Why we must feel bad or guilty about it ? Because perhaps somebody is going to be aroused or see only the body without appreciating the context ?

      When I see a beautiful sexy girl on the street I could have some fantasies. That’s natural, and as much as I don’t do nothing wrong, there is nothing wrong about it. If we are going to censure nudity in art, because there are some people that is going to have “bad thoughts”, which is going to be the next step ? Cover the faces of our females like the Taliban did ?

      • 90
        ) Lee Jones
        December 10, 2013 at 3:54 pm

        There is a difference between “making love” (that’s what I do with my girlfriend at our privacy) and a public visual gangbang of a young girl, that you do when you “enjoy” with others a payed-girl for renting her naked body, for yours “heathy erotic stimulation”. Not “Art”; there is a better word for that: “Pimping” and “Prostitution”.

        • December 10, 2013 at 4:41 pm

          Now that you’ve said something like that, Lee, please specify where in this article or the photograph that gave me the idea to write this article do you see a payed girl that rented her naked body for anyone’s any sort of erotic stimulation? Where do you see any sign of prostitution or pimping? Because you keep saying all of that, and every single time you do I fail to make any sort of connection to my writing or the photograph.

        • December 11, 2013 at 12:40 am

          Lee, are you a freaking idiot?! I removed your comment! Which part of “our articles are read by students at schools” did you not understand, saying things like that?? For the last time, I swear. Your “examples” have absolutely nothing to do with the photograph. This photograph has NO sexuality in it, and if your brain only manages to see sex, perverts and alternative motives where there is a naked body, we have absolutely nothing to talk about. Whenever you see a woman’s naked shoulder, do you think she is a hooker and that every single person who looks at her once is a pervert? It is obvious you have absolutely no respect for things you clearly do not understand, yet keep insisting you are somehow right in seeing pornography in the most innocent photograph. It is sad, frankly, how limited your point of view is and how you keep judging others by your example. If all you see is sex, that is your problem. Get it inside your head that you are just proving your unsophistication by trying to appear as an expert of some sort of what is right, and what is evil in art and photography, the first of the two being an area you clearly have no knowledge in whatsoever.

          Our ability to understand and creatively interpret fine art photography – any work of art, for that matter – rests solely on our experience, sophistication and education.

          You said that, normally, a young woman would not lie on the forest ground naked, and this statement is absolutely ridiculous. Man, seriously? How do you even dare talk about art after this? “Normally” people don’t do a lot of things! Does that mean one should discard half of works of art just because you deemed it pornographic or otherwise inappropriate? Or because “normally people don’t do this and that”? Does that mean art is just a pretty landscape and a pretty bowl of fruit? Get an arts history course, get one on contemporary art, read a few books, watch some videos of artists performing. Here’s a shocker for you – google Marina Abramovic and Balkan Erotic, I bet you won’t understand a thing she is doing and why, and will simply fall off your chair. And then come back and claim that photograph is pornographic and throw your absurd examples left and right!

          I swear, if you write a comment like that one more time, I will ban you for good. Watch your language! If you don’t know how to communicate like a grown man, just stop talking. A healthy discussion is one thing, but what you are doing is beyond reason and makes absolutely no sense.

        • 97
          ) Jorge Balarin
          December 11, 2013 at 8:38 am

          Lee, It doesn’t seem that you are answering me. Please, read again what I wrote and try again.

  23. 77
    ) Neil
    December 10, 2013 at 7:30 am

    Interesting comments by people. I’m saddened by the veiled hostility towards people, obviously religious, regarding their views of nudity. It seems that “enlightened” and “cultured” has been co-opted by those who smugly believe their views are the only correct views and therefore all other views are uncouth and small-minded. Little do they realize they are demonstrating the very same.

    I didn’t mind the photo, I thought it was very well done but not especially revelatory for me. But I appreciate being given the choice to view or not view. And that is the key element here, having the choice. I do not appreciate the view of the self-“enlightened” who would remove my choice and replace it with their dogma.

    I appreciate the choice of the PL owners here. They have been very measured and considerate, something many can learn from.

    • 98
      ) Jorge Balarin
      December 11, 2013 at 2:38 pm

      The true is that nobody knows nothing about God and his will. For that reason we say that we “believe” in God, or that we not “believe”. God’s existence is not a mathematical certainty. Personally I’m a real agnostic that lives in the border between believe or not believe. Rationally, for me it is hard to digest some aseverations; but by other side – like in flashes – time to time my intuition tells me that God exists. However – if God exists – for me it is not a puritan or intolerant, and he has nothing against sex and healthy sex arousal. Puritanism and intolerance are more of the devil than of God.

      And yes, I believe that a good willed, democratic, open and not dogmatic position in any topic, is better that a dogmatic an irrational one. Said that, I recognize that by the moment I’m more on the mystical side, but my beliefs are my beliefs and nothing more.

      • 99
        ) Patrick O'Connor
        December 11, 2013 at 3:03 pm

        This is getting way off topic but I couldn’t resist replying. While we have no certain knowledge of God’s existence, we certainly DO know something about Him, if for no other reason, by our shared definition of “God.” Much like a unicorn, which as far as we know doesn’t exist, it has to look like a horse with a single horn projecting from its forehead since that’s how we’ve defined it. We know, through common agreement, that God is good. The word “God” was actually formed as a contraction of “good.” This attribute is agreed on by Christians, Jews, Muslims, and most every other monotheistic religion or individual. That, of course, is pretty much the extent of our common belief. I’m pretty sure that Lee Jones has different ideas about what is good from most of the readers of this forum as it relates to nudity.

        • 102
          ) Jorge Balarin
          December 12, 2013 at 1:19 pm

          So we are in the same team, because also I think that if God exists, he must be good, but that’s only and idea, a belief. It is not a fact that God exists, and everything about him is pure speculation. We know what is a unicorn, but also we know that unicorns didn’t exist. The fact that everybody around the world knows what is a unicorn doesn’t make it real. We could say,”the unicorn is a real fantasy”, but not “the unicorn is real, as a tiger or a dog are”.

          • 104
            ) Patrick O'Connor
            December 12, 2013 at 2:09 pm

            I wouldn’t say we’re on the same team. It would be more accurate to say we have common ground.
            Your team believes that God may or may not exist.
            My team believes that He absolutely exists but there’s no proof, by design. Much like you prove, and increase, your love for your wife by believing she loves you and is faithful, without proof; our love for God is improved by being based on faith rather than fact.

            • 105
              ) Jorge Balarin
              December 13, 2013 at 8:27 am

              I didn’t say that I believe that God could exists or not. What I said is that sometimes I believe in it’s existence (as an entity with a plan for our lives), and sometimes not. There is a subtle difference. In the moments I believe in God’s existence I really believe on him. But my beliefs are only valid for me, and I can’t impose them to other people. Also I can not talk about God and his will on the same way I talk about computers. I believe that God favours love over any other thing, but that’s all. What is good for God – if he exists like we imagine him – not necessarily must be good for us or others God creatures that regularly finish as our food.

            • 106
              ) Patrick O'Connor
              December 13, 2013 at 9:03 am

              Jorge,
              As for your first statement, I guess the difference is too subtle for me.
              As for the second, I would never attempt to impose my beliefs on others, either. If God is real, He doesn’t need me to force Him on anyone.
              And finally, if you have children, you know that your what is good for you, is good for them as well, by design. I would never desire something for myself that wasn’t also good for my children, or at least didn’t harm them. Assuming God is real, and has the nature we’ve agreed upon, that would be far more true for Him than us. As for the creatures which become our food, providing food for a human is at least as noble as providing the same for a wolf or a tiger or just dying of old age or disease.

              Pretty soon, Nasim is going to ask us to take this somewhere else! ;-)

            • 107
              ) Jorge Balarin
              December 13, 2013 at 1:48 pm

              When you say that perhaps God exists or perhaps doesn’t exists, you are in the middle, in a neutral position. Basically what you are saying is “I don’t know”. When sometimes you believe, you are not anymore in the middle, you are on the side of the faithful people, at least for a short period. So I’m a sort of “active agnostic”, but not an agnostic in the classic sense.

              About the food question I agree with you; it is noble to feed the tiger. But what happens when we are the food of the tiger ? Is that good for God ? Perhaps it is, and I understand it.

              By other side many times parents whish for their children things that are good for them, but not for their children. In your place I think it would be better to employ a more general proposition, something like: “As you wish a healthy life for yourself, you wish it for your children”.

              To not make this nice conversation longer, I suggest trying to do some mystical photos, but of course, not a God’s photo. : ) Best wishes.

            • 108
              ) Patrick O'Connor
              December 13, 2013 at 2:25 pm

              I see your point. I guess I don’t understand believing sometimes but not others. C’est la vie!

              The rest of your email assumes that the quality/longevity of our life on earth is the main consideration in our, and God’s, estimation. While I would like a great life, that’s not foremost in my mind or, in my opinion, God’s.

              I have some landscapes that are fairly mystical. Does that qualify?

            • December 13, 2013 at 2:41 pm

              Patrick, Jorge – no one is going to drive you out for having a polite discussion, keep it up if you like :)

            • 110
              ) Jorge Balarin
              December 13, 2013 at 6:12 pm

              Yes, landscapes are perfect !

      • 100
        ) Neil
        December 11, 2013 at 3:36 pm

        Well, this discussion can easily go far afield but there are some presuppositions you are following. It is not possible to assert as irrevocable truth that no one knows anything about God or his will. Puritans get a bad reputation but their reputation is more of a caricature created of them by people who disagree with them.

        In any case, I prefer a civilized discussion over an intractable one.

  24. 78
    ) Lee Jones
    December 10, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Neil,
    The only hostility is by the greedy eyes of males that feels “sensualed” by a young girl that payed with money ..or by Wormtongue telling her that this is “art” or beautifull to be published laying naked in the forest to satisty with her body the “sensual” pleasure of others. The first word that fits that motion is not “art”.

    • December 10, 2013 at 8:43 am

      You are a very interesting man, Lee. :) the word “sensual” is also synonymous, at least to my knowledge, to the word “sensuous”, and that is exactly what I was implying. Not in any way sexuality.

    • December 10, 2013 at 8:57 am

      I glanced at a dictionary. You are right. I used the word sensual, but it is not the best choice and so I now understand the confusion. Sensuous is a much better fit and is what I actually meant. They are synonymous in some instances, and should have been synonymous here.

  25. 81
    ) Lee Jones
    December 10, 2013 at 9:50 am

    You used that word because you are part of the discourse. Because this is the discourse. Discourse creates reality. When I put this discourse in the arena you realize your bonds and try to improve expressions. Most of the observers of young naked beautiful girl have no problem to speak about the strong sensual lines and language of the figure.

    • December 10, 2013 at 10:38 am

      Lee,

      first of all, she is not a girl, she is a woman. I do, however, have a feeling that you are much older than I or the young woman, and that would explain why you, a) address her as if she is 13, though she is closer to 25 and b) why you are so conservative towards a naked body. Which basically means we have no reason to continue this debate.

      Secondly, you would like to think that I am trying to improve my expressions, because that would serve your point. I am sorry to disappoint you, but I used that word because, must I repeat myself?, I am a Russian born in Lithuania, and English is not my first language. It might be difficult for you to understand, but “sensual” is the word I knew, while “sensuous” is the word that I did not know up until now, yet what in my language – Lithuanian – means sensuous, I associated with the word “sensual”. I was partly right, because in some situations, these words are synonymous. Or did you not read that the first time I said it? In any case, when I said “sensual”, I mean “sensuous”, and while some people understood me, others clearly did not. That is fine. It is me who used the wrong word. But unless you are blatantly accusing me of lying, I would expect this argument to stop right about now.

      • 83
        ) Lee Jones
        December 10, 2013 at 12:25 pm

        I don’t think you a liar. Just unaware. Soaked in our “culture”. From my experience 25 she is a girl. Once you will have a relation with a woman you will understand the difference. I don’t say it’s better – it’s different. As you say: “it’s subtle”. 13 is a child. :-)
        ###########
        Take a look at youtube: Miley Cyrus – Wrecking Ball
        For her it’s “art” (and you may say it is and many will agree with that saying) and read the open letter of Sinead O’Connor to her. It summaries well.

        • December 10, 2013 at 3:25 pm

          Lee, I am not part of your culture :) From my experience 25 is a woman. I have a relationship with a woman. I have a son. I know the difference.

  26. 88
    ) Walt Mateja
    December 10, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    Thank you ALL for your thoughts.
    It may seem strange to consider a photograph with limited facial details as a portrait, unless you consider that an oil painting is usually accomplished over a long period of time relative to the shutter speed of a camera. So the facial details in a painting are really a composite of a person’s individual expressions and in some ways are really more accurate because our expressions are constantly changing and who is to determine which fraction of a second is a true representation of our faces?
    In that light, the actual details of a person’s face are not very important to the portrait and other factors replace them. Such as you mention in the “pale” skin or the position of the body and its relationship to background or other objects in the composition.

  27. 89
    ) David Ahn
    December 10, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    PLEASE close this article to comments. It was an interesting article, but the comments have devolved into a moral flame war rather than a discussion of art. I am unsubscribing either way. Thanks for a great site!

    • December 10, 2013 at 3:57 pm

      David,

      I do agree that the comments have wandered somewhat, but the discussion is still rather enjoyable, it is interesting to see so many different opinions. And, as Andrew has said, all great works are not without controversy. I’d rather read this than people loving/hating something like a Nikon Df, I must admit. :)

      Rather sad that you decided to unsubscribe, but then I guess we can’t make everyone happy. I do hope you will come back to read other, less heat-inducing articles!

  28. 96
    ) dick
    December 11, 2013 at 7:41 am

    Hello

    I hope you receive this. I understand the controversy (about the concept of portrait vs art vs nudity, etc.)

    Norman Rockwell is not called an artist by many to this day. The same for illustrators like the old Wyeth. To me, it is a different art.

    I do want to see the photo. I think men (like me anyway) see it one way, a woman sees it another way, etc. Can you send me a crypto-link? I do think you would violate any laws. I live alone.

    Best to you

    Dick Chilian Phoenix BTW, just returned from China after three months. My camera bag for my D800 and some lenses, flash, filters, batteries, etc., ? A $30.00 heavy duty bowling bag. I could not do ‘snap or fast shots’ while traveling anyway. After arrival unpacked and carried camera in lighter bag.

    The bowling bag is built for heavy bowling balls and has extra thick walls and a heavily padded bottom when you sit the camera down. It was great. I also took on a hike yesterday up a mountain. It only has one strap but walking up a desert mountain was fine. No shifting around.

    The brand is Ebonite and it has 3 large compartments. I fit in my D800, a Zeiss 100mm, a Nikon 50mm, my Nikon flash, extra batteries, charger, extra bags packing the D800 , the lenses and flash, all my filters, all my flash cards, lens cleaners, etc.

    • December 11, 2013 at 4:01 pm

      Dick, thank you for your feedback and a mini-review of the bag! Roman updated the article with the link – please see the intro text.

  29. 103
    ) Walt Mateja
    December 12, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    The idea of the entire of existence coming into being by a big bang is much less credible to me that the existence of a Supreme Being. It has long been a scientific principle that matter can never be created or destroyed… so where did it start… who lit the match for the big bang?
    Reality is a figment of one’s imagination… ! For several thousand years no one ever saw an atom or an electron, yet they existed. We can’t see the wind or gravity, yet they exist also, they like electrical current are forces that can at least be measured. Maybe God can’t yet be measured, but I would propose that his effects are witnessed many times. Without imagination of things we can’e see or measure we would lose all sense of creativity and beauty.

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