Imagine sitting in the nude with someone squinting at you for hours, looking at each of your curves, valleys and rolls as a perplexing series of circles, triangles and lines. The removal of clothing and nudity may be sexualised for most of us, but for a nude art model, the idea of being undressed is a mere part of the job. And while nude art may have existed in India for centuries now—with the tradition immortalised on the walls of our temples and palaces, and in the sculptures that fill our caves—the custodians of our morality have made sure the art form that helps amateurs understand human anatomy and the play of shadow and light, is now looked upon as shameful. The negative connotation attached to it means that today, few art schools are advocating for it and even fewer museums are open to patronising it. Tulsi: My mother was a nude art model.
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What spirit is so empty and blind, that it cannot recognize the fact that the foot is more noble than the shoe, and skin more beautiful that the garment with which it is clothed? Some people feel that the nude form is something that should be hidden away both in art and the artist's classroom. Although this may seem at first like a mere annoyance, such people frequently attempt to stop others from viewing or learning from the human form, thereby infringing on their rights to create and consume art as they wish. On the ARC website there are countless paintings and sculptures featuring nude figures. From time to time, this anti-nudity theme pops up in the ARC website feedback and on the Good Art mailing list, normally starting because someone says something along the lines of "All of this would be wonderful if only you would hide or eliminate the presence of nudity on the site. I believe that one source of this sort of comment arises from a lack of understanding of how the best art is taught and created. All of the recommended art training programs promoted by ARC include nude figure drawing in the curriculum, and thus it has always been, back to the days of the ancient Greeks.
The naked truth about nude art modeling
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A few years ago I was visiting my mother, sister, and ten-year-old nephew in Seattle after spending several months in Paris. And I would not begrudge this boredom—destination photos are usually only interesting to the person who took them. The change in the room was noticeable. Both my mother and sister became visibly nervous, and one of them urged me to move on to the next photo. Meanwhile, my nephew was peering with interest.