Greek frieze and shows fauns and a "bacante" dancing
Greek frieze and shows fauns and a “bacante” dancing

“Drinking a six-pack of beer does not give you a hangover, staying up until 2AM to drink that six-pack gives you a hangover.”

What you do NOT say about something says as much about it as what you DO say about it. So – what is NOT naturist art? Obviously, art with no nudity is not naturist art. That was an easy one. Secondly, art that has sexual content is not naturist. Thirdly, unless the art shows both male and female humans, it is not naturist. So art that shows fifty nude men is not properly naturist. Art that shows one nude woman is not naturist. Art that shows any sexual activity is not naturist. Did I say that already? It ‘bares’ repeating.

Even as specific as these guidelines are, there are still gray areas. What about a single hermaphrodite? How about five clothed men, three clothed women, and a naked baby? Twenty men and women who were forced to strip at gunpoint? Two couples that got drunk and went skinnydipping in a public fountain? One of the most common images in art is the classical “Adam and Eve”, but lots of couples would be willing to get nude outside if they are the only people on the planet and that does not make them naturists.

In art the term is ‘negative space’. It is the empty area between shapes. Proper use of negative space allows an artist to show proportion, and rhythm, and to create visual movement. An artist learns to see the negative space as well as the positive space and to use it well. Just so we as naturists need to see what is not naturism, and to use that to define our lifestyle, to save everyone from a bad morning and lots of headaches.


Nudist Beach by Peter Adderley
“Nudist Beach” by Peter Adderley

Have you ever had one of those days when all you wanted to do was rip off your clothes and run off to the beach, but the beach was closed because the waves were throwing chunks of ice onto it? Art is a response to being trapped in reality, a way of applying a psychic bandage to stem the bleeding until you can heal your life. We all know that ink cleverly applied to paper to simulate the warmth of the sun and the roundness of happy bodies in the sand is not a real beach, but maybe it can trigger in our minds the memory of, or the future memory of, a fine day walking free on the sand.
Just as a trip to the beach can bring relief from daily stress, just so a dash of humor can step down our tense selves in times of crisis (real or imagined). By juxtaposing the nude humans with the clothed dogs the artist can use a bit of visual tension to relieve physical tension. The friendly gesture of a wave is a gentle reminder that good people still exist, and the proud postures of the pups in their Sunday best is just a wonderful antidote for our daily tedium. Bringing kind and gentle humor to a situation can make life easier for everyone.


"Nudist Camp Linkebeek" by an unknown artist.
“Nudist Camp Linkebeek” by an unknown artist.

Being a naturist/nudist also means working together for a common cause, in this case the planting of a tree by a handful of men and women. Being out in nature with the elements on bare skin is one of the most natural things a person can do, however, in almost every city in this country it is illegal. It’s a shame that America has such draconian laws against non-sexual nudity – one of the most important aspects of the entire way of life. CASUAL NUDITY DOES NOT EQUAL SEXUALITY.


"Liebesgarten" by Susannah Martin
“Liebesgarten” by Susannah Martin

When we use the word “nudism” many people think they know what we mean. It is as if they simply nod and stop thinking about it once we use that word. Unhappily, many people have inaccurate, or very simplistic, ideas about what nudism means. We invented the word “naturism” to replace it, and were frustrated when it was hijacked by those bad actors and ignorance that had tainted the word “nudism”. The answer, of course, is not more linguistic gymnastics but rather better education and getting out message out in front of folks so they can see what we really mean when we talk about our lifestyle.

We nudists also have a similar problem. We grew up as a movement in a time when there were quiet stretches of uninhabited beaches where we could relax in peace. Now those beaches are owned and under surveillance. We need to change our thinking to adjust to the new urban landscape, seeking and creating new local venues, perhaps smaller, perhaps more contained, where we can relax in peace and enjoy nature. This will take all of us. Please help.


Deluge by Michelangelo Buonarroti
“Deluge” by Michelangelo Buonarroti

Painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, one of several active chapels in the Vatican, Michelangelo’s ‘Deluge’ fills just one of many panels. While ostensibly focusing on the Biblical account of Noah’s Flood, it allowed the artist to demonstrate his love of the unclad human figure. Controversial since its unveiling, the fresco was nonetheless so well executed that it has survived social, religious, political, and even military upheavals, thus demonstrating two vital facts: first, great art has a universal value that carries it throughout the ages, and second, that if you want to paint a nude that will last for centuries, paint it into plaster on a ceiling of a church.


Louisiana State Capital Building frieze
Louisiana State Capital Building frieze

One of the more controversial uses of discretionary government money is the funding of public art. It is often viewed more as a frivolous, pork-barrel earmark than as a much-needed kickstart to a vital industry. And sometimes it is just that. Even something as simple as choosing which art may be displayed in a public location can be fraught. Still, without public funding and hosting of the arts we would never have many great works of art. This particular frieze is mounted proudly on the Louisiana State Capital Building in Baton Rouge. As is common of Art Deco public art, it promotes civil duty and industry in a way that future generations might discuss and emulate. May we all work together for the public good by displaying good work for future generations to behold.


"Evening at the Beach by Anthony Tewfik
“Evening at the Beach” by Anthony Tewfik

How valuable is color? Our modern world is filled with color: flashed across our computer screens, wrapped around our food, emblazoned on the storefronts we pass by, and printed on the advertisements we receive in the mail every day. Color has been a part of art from the very beginning and features in the earliest cave paintings. There is a subtle joy, however, in black and white. Monochrome, of which black and white is the best known example, eschews the use of multiple colors, and expresses its message through the simple use of value (a word used by artists and art commentators alike to mean lightness or darkness). The skill an artist displays in capturing shape and shade using just one color both fascinates and satisfies in a way that even a rainbow of color will not. Similarly, we often talk of moral value as being either black and white, or expressed in shades of gray (of which there are always more than fifty).

Naturism is defined as non-sexual, and yet every human is by nature a sexual being. This will always result in a degree of conflict and confusion. Are genital piercings acceptable at a naturist event? Can I give my child a hug at a nude beach? If I get cold and just put a shirt on, am I too dressed, not dressed enough, or just right? Ultimately the answers to all of these questions come down to tolerance, a degree of good citizenship, and the correct application of the right value.


"Among the Ruins" by Adam Miller
“Among the Ruins” by Adam Miller

All around we see dysfunction: ruin, betrayal, faithlessness, decay, entropy. We run our own short road from birth to death and we wonder if any of our accomplishments justify the pain. How often have we wanted to just rip off our uniform and run away to somewhere warm and quiet and safe? As the planet gets more crowded and used it takes more and more effort to just be at peace. The good news is that together we can make a place that is warm and quiet and safe. Through our art we tell the world that such a place can exist, and by pooling our little resources we work to create such an oasis. Do you want such a place? Do you wonder how someone as poor and harried as yourself could possibly help overcome such great odds? Start by reaching out to us and asking how we plan to create a place where we can all go to escape and catch our inner breath, before we go back on our road and run again.


"Tribute to Jules Verne" by Paul Delvaux (1897-1994)
“Tribute to Jules Verne” by Paul Delvaux (1897-1994)

It was announced this week that a ninth planet (Pluto has been downgraded from planet status) is most likely orbiting our sun somewhere beyond Pluto that is approximately the size of Neptune. It is for this reason that I have chosen to post this tribute to the great 18th century science fiction writer Jules Verne who gave us such titles as ‘First Men in the Moon,’ ‘From the Earth to the Moon,’ ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth,’ ‘Around the Moon,’ ‘The Chase of the Golden Meteor’ and ‘Off on a Comet.’

While this image doesn’t represent any of the above titles, it is presented here in tribute to this great innovator of what we now know as science fiction, as the title of the image indicates.


“Nude Beach” by Helen Frank

Perhaps the the most important aspect of naturism is social interaction. No one can deny the simple joy of being alone in nature, attired only as God created you, but one person alone does not truly a naturist make. For that you need a crowd, and what better place for a crowd of naturists than a nude beach? This tinted etching shows the truly democratic nature of a proper nude beach, with men and women, both new and old, mixing and mingling with the carefree air that only comes from casting off all societal trappings, along with all your clothing. There are many, however, who do not have easy access to a legal nude beach. It is our goal to begin to create urban oases of nudism, where anyone can come and shed their cares and their clothes and mix and mingle with those of like mind and body. Won’t you pitch in and help us achieve this?


Saunassa by Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1889)
“Saunassa by Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1889)

Europe has almost always been much more progressive than the United States when it comes to public nudity and in this image from Finnish painter Akseli Gallen-Kallela from 1889 we see a mixed gender sauna scene. Here this would never be allowed, though, perhaps in the 19th and even early 20th century, when things were freer in America and prurient interests weren’t such a big deal, this scene may have been able to be seen here as well. Not today.


Moonlight Skinny Dip by Antoinette Kelly
“Moonlight Skinny Dip by Antoinette Kelly

Once upon a time it was a rite of passage to go skinny dipping at the local watering hole. In recent years, however, there seems to have been a complete change of attitude toward this time-tested activity and people have become very uptight when it comes to public nudity at ponds and lakes and skinny dipping seems to have become a thing of the past, sadly.


"An Anciente Mappe of FairyLand" by Bernard Sleigh
“An Anciente Mappe of FairyLand” by Bernard Sleigh

In 1918, Europe was a mess. War had killed millions, and bodies still littered landscapes so poisoned by gas and unexploded warheads that they cannot be safely traversed even today. Economies were shattered, populations displaced, and no life was left unmarred by man’s inhumanity. It is no surprise that many were happy for anything that could take their attention away from that misery, if even for just a moment.
This map of the faerie lands was made in just such a moment. It shows a more innocent world, one where nudity is part of the magic of everyday life. As people who live in a world hostile to our own desire to live a life free and natural, we nudists can sometimes want to immerse ourselves in fantasy worlds where we can run free and naked without consequence. Perhaps a better use of art and imaginations would be to build a corner of the world where we can be natural for real.


Family on the Beach by Fernando Botero
“Family on the Beach” by Fernando Botero

“An artist is attracted to certain kinds of form without knowing why. You adopt a position intuitively; only later do you attempt to rationalize or even justify it.”
Fernando Botero has one of the most distinctive styles of art of any living (or non-living) artist. His figures, almost always much heavier than the average human, have a weight that can be both humorous and critical, such as his Abu Ghraib series that he created as a condemnation of the torture of foreign nationals by the United States at that infamous prison. Art carries messages in ways that other media do not, and nudists have used art to spread their message for decades. It is by sharing true nudist art that we can help show what we are, what we do, and what we want to see in our community.


“Nudes in the Forest” by Ferdinand Leger

It has been said that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. So what is in a name? In certain circles there has been a debate about the meaning of the word “naturist”. Some folks say that it is simply another word for nudism, meaning social, mixed-gender, non-sexual nudity. Other folks insist it includes a oneness with nature, or even a natural setting. Of course there are also those enemies of the movement who deliberately misuse it as a label for any sort of nakedness, however prurient. Similarly, in art, much depends on a label. Today’s art by Ferdinand Leger is entitled “Nudes in the Forest”, and without that label it might be hard for some to classify this as a naturist work of art. Thankfully, both art and naturism celebrate our freedom to define ourselves according to our own terms.


“La mer” by Gheorghian Radu

Some folks, when they view art, want the image to look realistic. They want hands to have four fingers and a thumb, they want the grass to be green and the sky blue, and they want the rules of proportion and perspective to be honored. Other folks, when they view art, are seeking a more subjective experience, one filled with color and texture and contrast, and do not need art to actually look like anything in particular at all. Then there are the folks in between these two extremes. It was from the latter group that Impressionism was born. Seeking to capture an immediate impression, rather than the fine detail, Impressionist art is often best viewed from a distance rather than up close.


“Nudist” by Gunter Hortz

“Innocent” is a word used a lot in reference to naturism. The definition most people have when using that word in that context is “chaste”. Given our increasingly urban and crowded world, perhaps “harmless” or “innocuous” would be a better meaning if naturism is to survive the 21st century. With drones and surveillance cameras everywhere, we will soon have no more ’empty’ spaces, and every movement and moment will be observed and recorded somewhere, somehow. Urban nudism truly is the future, if there is one, because soon there will be no true wilderness left. If naturism is to flourish and grow, then “innocent” had better not mean “lacking knowledge or understanding”, because then a word best used to describe naturism would be “extinct”.


“Nudes” by Lajos Tihanyi

Did you know that scientists have studied what sort of natural environment humans prefer? It seems that no matter where humans live or were born, the majority seem to prefer a wide, open plain, with long accessible rivers and frequent, small clusters of vegetation studded with easily climbable trees, maybe reminiscent of today’s art, “Nudes” by Lajos Tihanyi. Even if you do not live near such a place, it is likely you do live not too far from someplace where you could get out and enjoy nature in your own natural state, provided the weather is willing. If not, perhaps you will join us in our effort to bring urban nudist venues to cities all over the world. After all, shouldn’t everyone have the chance to feel the warm air on their naked skin?


“Schiffe mit Badenden” by Alexander Soldenhoff.

It is the mark of a skilled eye and practiced hand when the mere posture of a painted figure is telling. The curve of a line, the proportion of a leg, and a few brushstrokes can reveal gender, mood, age, and action. What is really just polymerized plant oil with suspended mineral dust conveys personality, anatomy, attitude, and qualities too subtle to even name. Sometimes less can be more, and in the hands of a skilled painter a simple smudge can be so, so much more.


Pioneer Plaque

Zipping away from Solar System at 12.037 km/s (26,930 mph), Pioneer 10 carries this gold-anodized aluminum plaque as a greeting to any intelligence that might find it. Three notable facts about this plaque are illuminating. First, the Sagans and Frank Drake designed this in only three weeks, quite quickly considering the amount and quality of the encoded information. Second, while many people interpret the two figures to represent their own race, others are critical of the art as they interpret the race of the two nude figures as Caucasian. Finally, both Sagan and NASA intentionally censored the female figure to remove the anatomically correct labial cleft, fearing that it, unlike the anatomically correct male genitals, would be considered obscene.


“Man Masters the Elements” by Diego Rivera

“Allegory” is a story that has a deeper meaning than the immediate appearance. Art that is displayed to the public, such as murals, often have many layers of meaning. There is always the immediate image, which can be pleasing to the eye and evoke memories and emotions. There is often an implied or even explicit narrative, which tells a story. In addition, there will always be a historical and cultural context against which any art is set, and the use of or disuse of cultural elements will itself carry a message to a viewer educated enough to understand it.
Today’s art is “Man Masters the Elements” by Diego Rivera, an artist who lived through many tumultuous times (he had to carry a pistol while he painted one of his first murals to guard against right-wing attackers).


“El Día de San Juan” by Julio Castellanos

How important for the appreciation of art is context? Today’s work is “El Día de San Juan” by Julio Castellanos, and it certainly shows a scene. There is a lot going on here, with small stories unfolding left, right, and center. But what is the larger context? Do we really need to know it to appreciate what we can see in the art? Certainly the more we know the more nuanced our appreciation, but even a superficial viewing of a work of art can be enlightening.


“The Athenaeum – Galatée” by Maurice Denis

Mythology has provided both inspiration and refuge for figure artists for many generations when the conservative government forbade the depiction of the nude human form except for religious or educational purposes. Scenes of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden were a favorite topic of Medieval and Renaissance painters because, as a Biblical topic, it was one of the few ways they could paint a nude and not be condemned by the government or Church (which were usually the same thing). As society became more tolerant, mythological scenes proliferated, and today we create our own mythologies in the form of popular fiction.


“Big Color 6 (Herefordshire, England) 2010” by Spencer Tunick

Ever since the invention of photography in 1827, the debate over whether photography is truly art has centered around the ease with with a photograph can be made. No one has ever looked at a masterwork in oil by Bouguereau and said “anyone can paint a great painting by accident”. Today’s art is “Big Color 6 (Herefordshire, England) 2010” by the great figure photographer Spencer Tunick. As this photo also involves a large number of completely naked humans of different ages, sizes, genders, and morphologies, as well as a great deal of paint, it is unlikely anyone will accuse it of merely being a happy accident. Some have asked “if the model can be nude, why can’t the artist be nude as well?” Since someone had to stand behind the camera, out of sight, we may never know if Spencer himself joined in the fun that day, but I doubt many of those who participated in this shoot would have objected if he had.


“Family Time” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Here is an painting representing a loving family. There has frequently been controversy over images like this, however, there is nothing offensive in this image because family naturism/nudism is a widely practiced lifestyle in many parts of the world. This is but one painting of some 822 that he produced during his lifetime, which ended in 1905. The date of this painting is unknown.


“Burfield’s” by Terry Rodgers

Some say that art is the pursuit of beauty, but beauty is not always perfect symmetry, smooth skin, and a tight figure. Sometimes beauty is the joy of freedom, the memory of warm sun on your wet skin, and the calm peace of a tolerant community.


Early Hawaiian Surfers

The history of art is also the history of mankind, and to study it is to learn geography, politics, technology, anatomy, and nearly every other endeavor that humans have engaged in. The oldest art is reliably dated at 40,000 years ago and the trail of the artist continues unbroken down to the present day. Similarly, the history of mankind is also the history of naturism, which is also documented in art. Naturism in many ways is the natural state of man, and is the ground state to which any culture can go. Today’s example is the work of a European artist and documents the custom of surfing in post-contact Hawaii.2016-01-02

“Group of nude figures in a forest” by Paul Delvaux

Naturism as we know it today started at the end of the 19th century as a reaction against the industrial revolution and the declining quality of urban life. There was a back-to-nature push that emphasized health and sunlight and fresh air and a body-positive culture. A big part of this was an effort to get out and enjoy nature in a natural state. Social, non-sexual, mixed-gender nudity was one way to do this. There were many false starts, and much resistance from the establishment, but we today are the recipients of the freedoms for which these early activists fought. So get out into nature and get naked!2016-01-01

“Il Giudizio Universale” by Marcello Venusti

This is “Il Giudizio Universale” by Marcello Venusti. It is a copy of “The Last Judgment” by Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (usually known as just “Michelangelo”). It shows the Christian idea of the return of Christ and the final judgment of all. In keeping with the idea that all are equal before their maker, Michelangelo painted most of the figures nude, as nudity truly is a great equalizer. Stripped of the markings of class that separated them in this life, all stand before the honest judge and answer for their deeds. It is this equality that appeals to many who seek an honest nudity in the company of their peers, enjoying a freedom and openness so often denied in our society today.

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