The Male Nude in Contemporary Photography

While nude women are a staple of commercial and art photography, the photographed male nude is often the target of censorship but seldom the subject of serious critical discussion. This is the first study to examine the unique interrelation between social perceptions of the nude and the medium of photography. Melody Davis focuses on the work of six artists whose photography confronts societal prohibitions. In order to understand the taboo and silence which surrounds this subject, she addresses the many social and cultural fears that inhibit the presentation and discussion of photographed male nudity. Because she deals with distinctions between the nude and the naked, the interrelational and the pornographic, the book has close connections with current debates about the impact of images and the limits of public tolerance of images of ‘deviance’.Through the photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe, Lucas Samaras, John Coplans, George Dureau, Joel-Peter Witkin, and a film by Dusan Makavejev, the author examines how the action ideal for the male body is challenged by an artistic medium in which man becomes the spectacle, not the spectator. By presenting three of photography’s genres self-portraiture, portraits of others, and allegorical nudes Davis is able to reveal the critical and theoretical issues which shape our understanding of photographed nudity, and, by extension, representations of gender.

Text: Davis Melody D.. cm 18×26; pp. 186; BW ills.; paperback. Publisher: Temple University Press, Philadelphia, 1991.

ISBN: 9781566391986| 1566391989

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ID: AM-4328

Product Description

While nude women are a staple of commercial and art photography, the photographed male nude is often the target of censorship but seldom the subject of serious critical discussion. This is the first study to examine the unique interrelation between social perceptions of the nude and the medium of photography. Melody Davis focuses on the work of six artists whose photography confronts societal prohibitions. In order to understand the taboo and silence which surrounds this subject, she addresses the many social and cultural fears that inhibit the presentation and discussion of photographed male nudity. Because she deals with distinctions between the nude and the naked, the interrelational and the pornographic, the book has close connections with current debates about the impact of images and the limits of public tolerance of images of ‘deviance’.Through the photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe, Lucas Samaras, John Coplans, George Dureau, Joel-Peter Witkin, and a film by Dusan Makavejev, the author examines how the action ideal for the male body is challenged by an artistic medium in which man becomes the spectacle, not the spectator. By presenting three of photography’s genres self-portraiture, portraits of others, and allegorical nudes Davis is able to reveal the critical and theoretical issues which shape our understanding of photographed nudity, and, by extension, representations of gender.