From:Nathan Lyons Research Center, Visual Studies Workshop
About this objectCopyright symbol on LL corner of print, foxing on print, Text from first three pages of portfolio:
24 Photographs of the Female Figure
by Karl Struss
In arranging the poses the co-operation of the following and other artists was secured:
Herbert E. Martin
F. Winold Reiss
Publisher: F. Kotausek, New York
HYMN TO THE HUMAN FORM
by Edward H. Pfeiffer
Hail to thee, modeled in clay,
And quivering still
With the stir of Life’s breath
And the might of Life’s beauty and will!
Hail to thee, standing apart
That the ages may see
The master-work, crowning their art,
Their gropings made certain in thee!
Power and beauty and grace,
Marble made living and warm,
With the kiss of a god on thy face
And a dream of a god in thy form.
Temple wherein the proud soul
Kneels every hour to ask
Only thy youth for its dream,
Only thy strength for its task.
Only! . . . . Life-giver that takes
Ever in silence thy praise
And smiles when the weakling forsakes
Thy presence to seek through a maze
Something of Spirit, O thou
Seeker thyself and the goal,
Shatter the silence and speak to us now,
Tell us that thou art the soul!
NUDE OR UNDRESSED
by Dr. Frank Crane
What is the difference between Nude and Undressed?
A Nude person is one who goes unclothed from preference and only wears garments for warmth’s sake. An undressed person is one who always wears clothes, loves them, and expresses herself or himself by them, and who is surprised garmentless.
The Venus de Milo in the Louvre is nude. Lady Godiva as she rode the streets of Coventry was all undressed. The Greeks were nude; Americans in a Turkish bath are undressed.
Modern civilized conventional human beings can never be nude, because clothes are a part of their religion. What they call morality has nothing usually to do with any ethical force or virtue of self-expression, but is merely conformity to custom. Such people can never be nude; when they take off their clothes they are naked—and naughty.
It is not so bad as it used to be. In a preceding generation nothing had legs but pianos and tables; ladies had limbs; and the whole region from the collar to the waist-line was known as the stomach; for the simple old English term belly was for some inscrutable reason believed to be indelicate.
Chabas’ ‘September Morn’ is not of something naked, the girl is not undressed. She never had any clothes on in her life. She is not thinking clothes. She has stepped dryad-like out of the woods where she lives with other bodied-fancies, with thought-beings that never wore anything but beauty.
She is nude. And she is as pure as the diety-fingers that made bodies, and purer than the human fingers that fix and button up clothes. She never wore anything, never will wear anything. If she put anything on she would be indecent.
So it’s all as you take it. Most of us never ‘come to ourselves’ except by undressing. As soon as we are born the layette is ready, all our lives we wear uniforms, when we lie in our coffins we are still dressed up, and when we get to heaven and fly around with the angels we shall all have on beautiful white nightgowns.
So let us be thankful that there remains one realm where the nude human form, the most beautiful thing God ever made, can still walk in innocence and free from all the stifling pseudo-moralities clothes imply—the realm of art.
BERNARD SHAW ON THE NUDE IN PHOTOGRAPHY
by Alvin Langdon Coburn
Courtesy of ‘Photographic Art.’
This afternoon I was able to intercept Mr. Shaw, on his way to a rehearsal of his new play, ‘Pygmalion,’ and ask him the burning question of what he thought of the nude in photography? He started by telling me, as we walked down the Strand, that there was really not much to be said on the subject, but he then proceeded to give me a very clear and concise opinion on the absurd attitude held in general on the human body in a state of nature.
The difficulty, Mr. Shaw expounded to me, is to get people to sit for a photograph unclothed. He can see no reason why there should be any objection to such a proceeeding, and he has the courage of his convictions, as my print of him as ‘Le Penseur’ will testify.
There will always be secretaries of Purity Societies about, Mr. Shaw declared, who will boast of having earned their salaries by destroying thousands of picture postcards of nudes, and, he added, a large percentage of them are, no doubt, reproductions of paintings by the old masters. The horror of nudity which afflicts so many of us is not natural; quite the contrary. It is a morbid condition brought about by suggestion and inculcation. In a normal human community people would be astonished and probably rather disgusted if they saw a man or woman wrapped up like a parcel.
Then he spoke of the unpleasant practice of making nude photographs merely of people’s backs, or of smudging out the faces. Conscious nudity is an intolerable thing: better a dozen petticoats (the Bulgarians wear petticoat over petticoat) than one nude person conscious and ashamed. He was glad to see that this practice was becoming more a thing of the past.
Then I ventured the question: ‘Do you think photography a fitting medium for the treatment of the nude, or should it be left to the painters and scupltors?’ And he answered emphatically that unquestionably photography with its exquisite rendering of values was eminently fitted to interpret the play of light on the human form, which was one of the most beautiful effects in art. Of course, he went on to say, the photographer cannot take an arm from one figure and a torso from another, as the painter can; but perhaps this is as well, as art gets tied by this artificial selection to an ideal which soon becomes a convention and a bore. It was by an uncompromising interest in life as it is seen and lived that Rembrandt and Rodin got beyond the Greeks. It is the focal plane photographs of galloping horses, ugly as most of them are, that have taught us to see that there are more attitudes possible to a galloping horse than the classic one—which, by the way, was not possible. And lest this should seem to suggest that it was a good practice for the painter to imitate the camera, slavishly and without thought, he instanced the copying of short focus landscapes on canvas, as a pitfall into which modern painters—even so great a painter as Segantini—were falling.
Mr. Shaw ended his chat by asking me to imagine what would happen on the Judgment Day if everyone were suddenly struck naked! The artists, he said, would keep their heads, but everyone else would go raving mad.
Leaving me to ponder over this amazing suggestion, he dashed into the door of His Majesty’s Theatre and was lost to view.
And thus my interview ended.
Portfolio Title24 Photographs of the Female Figure
Medium and MaterialsGelatin Silver
Measurements47.8 cm x 32.8 cm, 23.8 cm x 13.5 cm