The bas relief sculpture that graces the radio side of the General Electric building in New York City was installed by Leo Friedlander in 1934. The panels are made of limestone and stand 15 feet high and 10 feet wide. On the left we see a representation of transmitted sound and on the right reception of that sound. The smaller figures on the left are singing to the larger figure and the right represents Mother Earth and her people receiving the signals.
Bas relief is a French term derived from the Italian basso-relievo and is one of the oldest forms of art known to mankind. It is usually created by carving out the negative space around what is to be the finished piece, however, it can also be created by adding material to a flat surface. Leo Friedlander, who died in 1966 was an American sculptor. He studied at the Art Students League in New York City, the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Brussels and Paris, and the American Academy in Rome and was an assistant to the sculptor Paul Manship. At one point he taught at the American Academy in Rome and at New York University, and headed the sculpture department at NYU. He became president of the National Sculpture Society and, in 1936 was elected to the National Academy of Design as an Associate member.
Nudists and naturists are natural receptors. We don’t receive radio or television signals, but do receive energy from nature, including sunshine, air and water, flowing around and absorbing being absorbed by the body. It is impossible to describe the sensations experienced by being nude in nature. People say how wonderful it feels when wearing a swim suit, but when these elements engulf the entire body that sensation is increased by an incalculable factor.
Starting drawing whilst just a boy, Palumbo graduated from the High School of Art in Naples in 1997 and in 2003 received a Master’s Degree in Painting (MFA) with from the Academy of Fine Arts of Naples. His style is very dramatic and his paintings are incredibly lifelike. Palumbo has won numerous awards in his painting career, including the international Arte Laguna Prize (2007) and the Chairman’s Choice Award in the International ARC Salon (2013), as well as being a finalist in the Premio Arte 2004 and for three consecutive years in the International ARC Salon from 2013 to 2015. His style is derived from Italian masters in the 15th, 16th, 18th and 19th centuries.
Nudists are always in a search to find one another. Since the concept of nudity in public is taboo, it isn’t easy, especially as a single male. Unfortunately for the lifestyle, there are a lot of people who just want to gawk at a beach full of nude people. Nudism is a lifestyle that thrives on community, where many people of like mind gather for events – swimming, bowling, nature hikes, beachgoing and parties at the homes of fellow nudists. Unfortunately there are a lot of malcontents who will balk at the idea and who continue to think of it as a deviant lifestyle which, as most of us know, is not factual. Perverts are not welcome in a nudist gathering. We try through our art postings to show that the nude body is not shameful and is a frequent subject in paintings and sculptures around the world. These are accepted in society, whilst live nude bodies are not. This appears to be a double standard that nudists and naturists are constantly trying to change. Perhaps one day nudism will become a respected lifestyle and the taboos will go away so we can all live peacefully together, clothed and unclothed alike.
In 1997, Riccardo Bremer was presented with a letter from Mayor Rudy Giuliani reading, in part, ‘On behalf of the residents of New York City, I commend those associated with this event for providing the opportunity to honor the artistic heritage of Italy’ on the occasion of his visit to the Joan Whalen Fine Art gallery where there was an exhibit of his work. The event was accompanied by Italian music with wine and food.
Art is about flow. The greatest art will allow you to take in the painting and then will almost force you to focus on a specific area and then follow it through the image to the main focal point. ‘The Birth of the World’ is a good example of the concept of flow. You see the image and then focus on fire at the bottom and then up with the figures emerging from it. Though this isn’t an example of it, Bremer’s main style incorporated chiaroscuro, the positioning of light and dark elements in a painting. One of Bremer’s most notable works, ‘Prometheus,’ is a good example of this. In ‘Birth of the World,’ the majority of the image IS dark. What appears to be a stormy sea surrounds the central figures emanating from the fire. The darkness of the background invariably guides you to the bright colours that occupy the centre of the painting.
In an abstract way, the concept of flow applies to nudism as well. For many people, their first experience with a nude lifestyle began by not dressing or putting on a robe after a shower, preferring instead to air dry. Or it may begin by sleeping in the nude – especially in summer. The next step is occasionally not dressing immediately after waking, preferring instead to have their breakfast first. Then, it goes to not dressing even after breakfast, but rather to stay in the nude all day – provided of course that you don’t have to go out at all. Following that fledgling nudists will get home from work or a day of errands and just undress, staying in the buff for the rest of the night. By then it almost becomes habit and people will then spend most of the time around the house nude and, finally, many will seek out a nude resort, camping area or other nudist-friendly destination and, depending on the place’s rules, will become a member or just visit at weekends. For some it’s a smooth flow from one stage to another, and for others it is not so easy because, in today’s world, we are taught that nudity is bad and should only take place in the bath or shower and some people feel self-conscious about walking around unclothed. For some, the flow ends at being a nudist only at home. In any case, the buzz phrase is ‘go with the flow’ and enjoy the freedom provided by a clothes-free lifestyle.
EARTH. AIR. FIRE. WATER. These are the four elements that make up our world and, of the four, only Fire can be considered to be a technology since it can be made by man. The origins of man-made fire are shrouded in ancient history and mystery, but it is not only one of the deadliest elements, it is also one of the most helpful in our daily lives. Fidus gives us his interpretation of mankind’s ‘invention’ of Fire in this exquisite print.
Now that we are fully in the throes of summer, Fire becomes even more of a useful element, as we use it for many purposes. With the hot weather, nudists are gathering at like-minded friends’ house for barbecues, skinny dipping in backyard pools and bonfires. Bonfires are a big part of the summer celebration, especially around the 4th of July. Additionally, Wiccans gathered last week for the Summer Solstice, dancing nude around bonfires to celebrate the changing of the season and the longest day of the year. It’s all downhill from now as the daylight hours begin to wane, minute, by minute, so nudists all over the world are going to be gathering in the weeks and next couple of months to enjoy the warm summer nights, watching fireflies (there’s that Fire again) and having a great time having pool parties and telling stories around bonfires and campfires. So, while it’s still warm enough to do so, throw off your clothes (if you have a secluded backyard or are near a clothing-optional campground, Fire up the grill and create a fire pit, sit around, have parties, tell stories like the ancients did and sing summery songs. Enjoy nature as we were intended to do.
We are trying to come up with ideas whereby we can create our own private Paradise here in Cleveland, Ohio by either buying or leasing some property where we can express ourselves, physically, emotionally, mentally and artistically, so we are in the process of planning some events that will serve as a fund-raiser for our cause. When details are posted, please consider helping us by buying some artwork that we are going to be putting up for sale and/or coming out to any events we may put together this summer.
Once again we turn to Greek mythology for today’s image. Phaethon was the demigod of the Sun. The Florentine artist (1536-1603) was a highly respected artist in Italy. He spent his entire life in his home town of Florence with the exception of about six years he spent in Rome perfecting his style which is credited with being the bridge between the Mannerism and Baroque styles. His painting of ‘The Sisters of Phaethon’ show strong Baroque styles as the figures in the piece are shown in somewhat contorted positions, lending a feeling of tension and complexity to the piece.
Nudists and Naturists have a common affinity with Phaethon as one of the goals of the lifestyle is to get out and enjoy full sunshine on the body nude. As has been stated many times in previous posts, the effect of the sun on the skin causes a chemical reaction which generates Vitamin D, one of the most important vitamins we need to keep our bones healthy as it helps the system absorb calcium, which is necessary for strong bones and teeth. So, as we move into the heart of summer, with July right around the corner, shed your outer ‘skin’ and pay homage to Phaethon by getting out in the sun and absorbing it into your pores throughout your entire body, get in the water and feel the sensation against your bare skin, and enjoy summer to its fullest.
Sometimes a simple sketch is all you need to get your point across. Since this is such a common name there is scant information about his or his career. Suffice to say that he is an exceptional sketch artist and today’s image comes from what he calls ‘Third Study Session,’ but there is no other information about him.
Simplicity is all that nudists and naturists crave in their daily lives. As was stated in yesterday’s posting, Baroque art deals with complexity and tension. A nice sketch, on the other hand, is completely the opposite regardless of the amount of detail that might be involved. It’s the same way with the nudist ‘movement’ in America. Despite the amount of complexity inherent in being a nudist in today’s society, simplicity is still the buzzword. You get home from a trying day at work or shopping or whatever and all you want is to throw off your clothes and simply BE. Figuring out a daily wardrobe is a complex issue. What am I doing today, where will I be, what will people think of my outfit and does it look good on me are all complex equations we deal with on a daily basis. It would be so much simpler if we could all just dispense with this aspect of our lives and walk out the door with nothing the skin on our backs. In the same way that a sketch is the bare bones of a full-fledged piece of art, being nude is the ‘bare’ bones of our existence. In this very complex and complicated world we live in today, we should all strive for as much simplicity in our lives as we can muster. In this way we should all shake off our complexities, including putting together that ‘just right’ outfit and just be bare as much as possible. It’s very simple really.
Roberto Ferri was born in Taranto, Italy in 1978 and takes his inspiration from the likes of Caravaggio, Jaques-Louis David, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Anne-Louis Girodet, Jean-Louis Theodoe Gericault and William-Adolfe Bouguereau, amongst others. His self-taught style is extremely lifelike and he can definitely be counted amongst today’s greatest artists. His Baroque renditions grace both public and private collections, and he has been displaying his work since 2002. After moving to Rome in 1999, he concentrated on his studies of the great masters of the past and graduated from Rome’s Accademia di Beele arti di Roma (Academy of Fine Arts) summa cum laude. Surprisingly, however, given his obviously great talent, his degree is in stage design. Endorsed by the Catholic Church, Baroque art emphasises motion and complexity to produce images full of tension. It has been in use since the early 17th century. The word itself connotates something that is elaborate in its exposition. The Catholic Church emphasised using religious iconography during the Baroque Period (1600-1750), when artists produced works that were so realistic they could have been painted from a scene in a play. They also play on a more emotional level. Today’s image, as contemporary as it is to our time, ‘Requiem,’ is a great example of the complexity and tension generated by the style, as the figures depicted are elaborately portrayed in what can only be called distorted positions within the framework of the image.
One reason nudists exist is because they want to get rid of as much tension and complexity in their lives by throwing off their daily trappings to relax in complete freedom of motion and attitude. It’s easier to eliminate the stresses of the day when you get rid of the ‘uniform’ you wear every day. The first step toward this realisation came when men stopped wearing their suits and ties when they came home from work and said, ‘Ahhhh, that feels good.’ The next logical step came when the suit jacket got hung up as soon as the wearer got home and, lastly, the rest of the clothes. For many nudists, it begins by not dressing right after taking a shower or bath, but rather letting the skin air dry with opened pores and absorbing as much air and light as the body can naturally take in. The nudist lifestyle could be called anti-Baroque, in that it seeks to relieve the complexities and tensions of everyday life and is anything but elaborate. The distortions inherent in Baroque art don’t exist in real life, but the tensions and drama that can be gleaned from them do, in fact, exist in practically everything we do on a daily basis. Simplicity is not the buzzword of the 21st century, unless it is within the concept of living an au naturel lifestyle that doesn’t require you to stress out over what uniform you’re going to wear on a given day. The ‘textile’ world is full of complexity, drama and tension. The nudist world is not.
About forty thousand years ago, someone held their hand up against a cave wall and blew colorful dust over it, creating what was possibly the first, but absolutely not the last, stencil ever made by humans. The idea of using a screen to selectively block the application of color to a substrate is so powerful that it has been used in techniques ranging from simple letting stencils to “pochoir” (the use of stencils to create hand-colored illustrations for books) to silk-screen (stencils made by applying photoemulsion to fine screens) and even to the photolithography used to make modern integrated chips and computer processors. “Pochoir” was used in the early twentieth century to create illustrated books, a labor-intensive, hand-coloring commercial process made possible by low labor costs in Europe at the time. These brightly-colored, lavish illustrations are now considered of some value, rather than as mere printed copies, because of this production method.
As nudists we strive to emulate the ideals and best behavior of those pioneers of naturism that came before us. The pattern of thought and action laid down by notables such as Adolf Koch, Heinrich Pudor, and Werner Zimmermann guide us as we seek the liberty available in the practice of social, mixed-gender, non-sexual nudity. No guide or pattern is ever perfect, of course, and it behooves the modern practitioner of nudism to reject failed philosophies such as racism, rabid nationalism, genderism, agism, or classism. Following the best ideals of our forerunners does not make us cheap copies, but rather informed consumers and patient caregivers of the efforts these pioneers laid down for our benefit.
Isn’t it wonderful living in a world of such variety? There are so many choices to be made, so many options from which to choose! Why, an artist can spend all day just trying to decide which paint to use. Oils have that depth and that tradition, while acrylics dry fast and are tougher. Watercolors have that nuance, and alkyds combine the speed of acrylic with the glow of oils. Then there are pencils, and pastels, and charcoal. Don’t forget the third dimension either; granite, plaster, resin, wire mesh, and even plastic become are in the right hands. With all these choices, how can anyone choose? Well, many artists don’t – they just mix them all together! Mixed media art has existed for as long as more that one media was available, and endures today. Paintings with sculpture added, watercolor paintings enhanced with pastel, acrylic on oil on acrylic on panel, and ink inside pencil drawings: these are a just a few of my favorite things! Of course, care must be taken to ensure compatibility between the different media. Oils dry slower than acrylics, so timing is important. Heavy and protruding objects must be firmly and safely mounted on a sturdy base, painted or otherwise. Fabrics and paper will often need to be conserved properly to prevent them working loose or just fragmenting. Correct layering and planning is important. This need not be a burden, of course, or prevent experimentation. Mix and match, meld and mutate – everything is an option when you have so much to choose from!
In Europe and the western world, art helped preserve and disseminate ideas from centuries ago. Ostensibly a Christian culture for much of the last two millenia, Europe and her diaspora have nonetheless also discussed and even embraced other religions and philosophies. The Greek, Celtic, and Indian pantheons have made frequent appearances in paintings and sculpture, often bringing with them a celebration of the human form otherwise forbidden by a socially conservative Church. By the middle of the nineteenth century, pagan Venus’ and Aphrodite’s mixed freely on salon walls with nude images of David, Adam, and Isaiah. The philosophies of Nietzsche, Adolph Koch, and Walt Whitman questioned the status quo, and by the early twentieth century communism, cubism, nudism, and nationalism were all fomenting and mixing in the cities and countryside, erupting repeatedly into communes, genocides, revolutions, and art movements. Ideas and images that otherwise might seem contradictory were juxtaposed and layered, like a clothed Christ visiting the naked Olympians. We have inherited this blend, and in some cases we are still sifting through the pieces.
Kintsugi (also known as kintsukuroi) is a form of art from Japan where broken pottery, usually considered one of the least valuable of materials, is repaired using silver, gold, or even platinum, some of the most valuable of materials. This is done to show that a history of repairs is actually part of the value of an object. While most conservators do not generally use precious metals to repair artworks, they do use many sophisticated techniques in an attempt to bring damaged works of art back to a state where they can again be displayed. In the process of studying works of art, in an attempt to fix and preserve them, art conservators have uncovered many fascinating secrets about how art has been made, and have even discovered entire works of art painted or covered over by generations past.
Many who have come to the nudist movement have wondered just how damaged some of our members are. Let’s face it; not all nudists are beautiful people, and I am not just talking about their bodies. The reality is that we are all imperfect, and some of us occasionally abuse even that privilege. This does not invalidate the entire effort, however. We try not to focus on what is wrong with us as individuals, but rather on what the movement as a whole can offer society and individuals. The nudist movement had humble beginnings, and goes back to those beginnings often as we expand into new areas and endeavors. We patch things together, slap paint over the stains, and do what we can to make the whole thing work. When we can, we build a proper structure, but we do not allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good. You do not need to be perfect, or wealthy, or beautiful, or anything in particular to become a nudist. Just do it, and let your precious self shine through.
The Tarot is a deck of 78 cards consisting of Major Arcana (‘trump cards’ such as The Magician, The Star, The Lovers) and Minor Arcana (four suits consisting of one to ten and four face cards – King, Queen, Knight, and Jack or Knave – totaling 14 cards) which have been in use since the 15th century to play card games and, since around the 18th century, have been used in divination and fortune telling. The original cards were usually hand-painted, making each deck unique but in modern times can come in many styles and formats, from photographs to cartoons.
Nudists come under judgment from all corners, being called by degrees weird at best or perverted at worst, mostly unfairly. The history of the modern nudist movement dates back to the early part of the 20th century in Europe, its beginnings generally credited to Germany and, later, in America. Early nudists were generally well-to-do people who could afford to travel to resort communities on holiday, especially in the United States. Nowadays, however, practitioners come from all walks of life and all income strata, as it has become more of a social phenomenon in all corners of the country as people realize the value of the healthy aspects of being nude in nature. People still gather at camps and resorts, but it is not unusual to find nudist events in private homes as well and is now practiced by individuals as well as entire families. Nudism is healthy, it’s natural, and shouldn’t be judged harshly.
There was a time when, if someone wanted a portrait of Grandma, they would have to seek out a local artist, hire them to come to look at Grandma, wait while they painted a portrait, brush stroke by brush stroke, and then wait for the paint to dry and the painting to be framed, only to realize that a fly was trapped in the varnish and now graces Grandma’s portrait forever. Now, however, due to our modern technology and global trade, that same person can take a photo of Grandma, upload it to any number web pages that promise inexpensive paintings created by hand, who will then email that photo to a foreign country like China or Vietnam, where a highly trained, very experienced, and somewhat underpaid artist will set aside their own creative dreams and aspirations to hand-paint a portrait of Grandma based on that photo, will wait for the paint to dry, and will ship that painting back to the original purchaser, who can then discover any number of small foreign insects trapped in the varnish. Ain’t progress great? Of course, you do not need to actually have a grandmother to use these services. You could just ask them to paint a replica of a famous painting. The processes, and the insects, are the same.
It is an interesting phenomena that nudists who frequent naturist venues will discover. Many nudists are more willing to get naked in another city, state, or country than in their own city, state, or country. Often this is a convenience; many locales lack decent naturist facilities of their own, and so folks have to travel a distance if they want to enjoy nature au natural. Almost every city and town has some sort of landscape or vista that could easily be transformed into a nudist site, however, if the locals really wanted it. Relatively few nudists facilities just grew — most had to be created. If you find that you are traveling hours for the chance to skinnydip, chunky-dunk, sun-bathe, or just stroll down the road naked, then consider your own back yard. What can you do to help create a nudist venue in your own home town?
Sculpture makes up a large fraction of what would be considered “public art”, and bronzes (sculpture or statues cast from bronze, an alloy of copper and tin) make up a large percentage of those. Durable and capable of accepting many different and colorful protective oxides or “patinas”, bronze statues have been created for millenia, and often survive until they are broken up and melted down to make another object (often cannon, or bullet casings). The creation of large objects from molten metal requires skill, experience, and large equipment and often has to be done in sections, requiring the casting foundry to weld the sections together and then rework the mold lines until they blend into the overall contour. Within the last few decades a new technology has emerged, known as cold-cast bronze. Polymer epoxies, such as a polyester resin, are mixed with powdered bronze and cast in silicone molds. This is much easier, cheaper, and safer and can allow multiple, identical copies of a statue to be produced. While still quite expensive, these are not nearly as expensive (or durable) as a hot-cast bronze.
When nudists are discussed, the idea of the deeply tanned, open, casual individual is common. Writers talk of free and open couples with bronze tans surrounded by happy children brown from hours in the sun. These people do exist, but they are far from the majority of nudists. Most nudists cannot afford to live in a warm climate and spend most of their day naked in the sun. Most nudists, in fact, cannot afford to even visit a nude beach very often, and can be as pale as the northern sun that many live under. The lack of a deep tan does not invalidate a person’s commitment to a naturist lifestyle, however. An acceptance of the validity of non-sexual, social, mixed-gender nudity and a willingness to practice it whenever practical and convenient is all it takes to be a true nudist. These folk are not fake; they are unique, come in many shapes and colors, and are very valuable indeed.
Though Maurice Prendergast (1858-1924) and his twin sister were born in Newfoundland, they moved to Boston at a young age and he became an American citizen. He was a shy person and suffered deafness as he got older and remained a bachelor his entire life, growing close to his brother, Charles, who was also an post-impressionist painter. He had gone to Paris and studied at both the Académie Colarossi and the Académie Julian from 1891-1895. He studied the works of van Gogh and Georges Seurat and was one of the first Americans to adopt the style of Paul Cézanne and to use his depictions of form and colour. Prendergast was most known for his use of pencil and watercolour, and today’s image is a great example of his magnificent style.
By the time of his death, naturism had begun to take hold in Europe and was starting to come into vogue in the United States as well, mostly practiced by well-to-do citizens. It was not uncommon to see nude bathers at many locations around the United States as the practice of nudism grew in popularity, spurred on by the reasoning that the sun and air on the nude body was a healthy way of life. It became known that the human body creates Vitamin D from sunlight and, as the years went by, people began to create and flock to resorts and campsites that catered to the burgeoning naturist community. Today there are thousands of such sites throughout the country and, now that summer is virtually upon us, these facilities are filling up with eager sun-worshippers. Every state has at least one facility and there are many beaches that also allow clothing-optional activities.
Otto Greiner (1869 – 1916) was a German painter and graphic artist who was born in Leipzig and died in Munich. He was best known for his lithographs and was one of the leading figures in German Symbolism. After studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich Max Klinger he and Max Klinger moved to Rome and shared a studio. much of his artwork is life-size with nudes being a prime target of his work.
So here we have a wonderful example of his style, in various stages of dress and in a style that harkens back to classical artwork from the great masters, which surely Greiner should be counted amongst. His figures are enjoying their freedom from constricting clothing as they dance through the scene, just as nudists are when they remove the trappings of everyday life. Take off your clothes, be free and dance!!!
There are two artists named Max Howard, a sculptor from North Carolina and a painter from Milwaukee. That is who we are focusing on today, but little is known about him, other than his style is considered to be ‘high-style art deco.’ In his ‘Four Seasons,’ he uses a watercolour technique called ‘gouache,’ which is a method of
making watercolours opaque (‘paint consisting of pigment, water, a binding agent, (usually dextrin or gum arabic) and sometimes additional inert material’ according to Wikipedia. He mixes this format with standard watercolours to come up with this very bright and vibrant celebration of the seasons, with the male at the centre of the image representing Summer, the woman tossing flowers is Spring, Old Man Winter is pretty obvious as he is icy looking and Autumn is represented by the other woman decked out in a flowing coral-coloured gown. I find it interesting that the male with a cornucopia represents Summer, as that is typically autumn imagery, instead of the female with the train of flowers flowing out behind her, which you would think would represent the season. The other interesting thing about this image is that it flows but it doesn’t. In this instance, the seasons are opposite each other rather than flowing into each other, as Summer is below Winter and Spring and Autumn are opposite each other on left and right respectively.
If there is an artistic style that represents nudism it is probably art deco, as the nude motif seems prevalent in that school of art. From free-standing statuary to various wall decorations, nudes are prominently featured in many art deco pieces. It is a style that came to prominence in Europe around the time of World War I and ran throughout the 1920s, eventually spreading to the United States and shows up frequently in the architecture of the period. Correspondingly, though ‘nudism’ and ‘naturism’ had been practiced at various times throughout the centuries, it came to prominence in the 1920s, becoming a somewhat widespread phenomenon in Germany, England, France and other European countries and eventually spread to the United States and became more or less ensconced in the 1930s. Today, the terms ‘naturism’ and ‘nudism’ tend to be used interchangeably, but in reality nudism is simply being naked while naturism is more of a lifestyle. The XIV Congress of the International Naturist Federation, held in Agde, France in 1974, calls naturism ‘a way of life in harmony with nature characterised by the practice of communal nudity with the intention of encouraging self-respect, respect for others and for the environment.’ Today’s image is an excellent example of communing nudity with environment.
Today’s selection is an example, done in oil over black pen on board, of a time in German art where an “Adam and Eve” theme was not uncommon. But with no snake appearing maybe you can just use your imagination in what is happening between the young man and the young woman. Have they just met? Have they been friends for some time? Are they with the distant observers, as friends or family? Does their nudity in this natural setting lend a feeling of innocence or adventure? Perhaps it reminds you of your youth, or of your weekend. There is much going on in your mind and brain when you view this image; do you like the image visually? Is this a kind of art you would like to find out more about on your own? Does it make you feel like creating or coloring something? There is always a myriad of options that one might pursue at any given time with just one piece of art. The artist, Ludwig von Hofmann, was a 19th-century German painter known for combining Impressionism and classical styles together and who also created images for the magazine Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration, as well as the magazine’s chief rival, Pan. Being blind in one eye did not stop him from competing in art competitions in the 1928 Olympics.
Though the image looks like a classicist painting, it’s actually very modern. It’s still in the classicist style, however, as there’s a modern classicist movement alive today. Neoclassicism came into vogue in the 17th Century, mostly represented by sculpture and architecture. In fact, Neoclassicist architecture is still being built today.
Up to the 15th century women frequently went topless and then through the Renaissance until around the 17th Century, a woman’s breast was mainly portrayed as a way to feed their children and topless Madonna paintings throughout this period were not uncommon. And contrary to today, breasts were even sometimes a sign of wealth and social status. Today it’s the clothing that delineates between the classes and so going clothing-free also means going class-free. Or should anyway. You can get rid of the trappings but you can’t get rid of the personality, but then again nudists/naturists are generally friendly outgoing people who are used to living under the radar. You’re probably less likely to run into an ego amongst a group of nudists, no matter whether they are poor or rich, than you are at a country club.
It has been said that Cubism, one of the seminal art and design concepts of the twentieth century, was invented by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. While these two giants of art must be credited for their vital and impressive contributions to the genre, to say that they are the sole originators of the movement is to ignore the entire landscape of the early twentieth century art world. The first decade of the 1900’s was an era where artists worldwide were searching for new ideas and ways to break away from the traditions of art. As described by Daniel Robbins in his 1964 work “Albert Gleizes”, most of the basic tenets of cubism had already been used; the multiple points of view by the Impressionists, the flattening of the image by Les Nabis and the Symbolists, and the reduction of the image to areas of color by Cézanne. It was the work of many artists working in many areas that was distilled and merged by Picasso and Braque into the single upheaval we now call Cubism.
As popular as nudism is, there is actually relatively little art that definitively depicts naturists engaging in purely naturist activity. The nudist movement as we now know it, while owing much to the hundreds of generations that came before it, really only crystallized in the early twentieth century, and was not generally the topic of many drawings or paintings. The nude has been popular for as long as man has slung paint, and images of two or more women, or two or more men, are certainly not unheard of. Drawing three nudes is more that three times harder than drawing one nude, however, and drawing more than one gender just adds another dimension of difficulty to the work. If there is any sexual activity or any evidence of coercion in the image then it cannot be a naturist image, and that alone rules out many images showing mixed-gender social nudity. There are a few artists that have created beautiful works showing humans that are clearly nudist in nature, but they are rare. It is certainly a genre that has been sadly neglected.
I used to work for a paint company. While visiting a plant, I observed a tractor-trailer pull in labeled “titanium white”, which is a modern pigment used to make paint. Having never seen such a large quantity of any such pigment, I asked the plant manager “you buy titanium white by the semi-truck-full?” He shook his head no and pointed to a nearby set of train rails. “No,” he said, “we buy titanium white by the train-full. That truck is just for small batches.”
Paint gets its color from pigment and dyes, solid and liquid colorants respectively. Until the 1800’s artists had to grind their own pigments by hand (or by assistant) from whatever materials they could find or purchase, typically brightly colored minerals or dried plants. Many of the more vividly colored materials were with extremely expensive (one type of red pigment was made in part from gold) or, being “fugitive”, would fade when exposed to sunlight. As a child I recalled being told by an older gentleman that he recalled buying paint in the form of untinted linseed oil and buying red pigment to be stirred in by hand. The pigment was actually red dirt sourced from an African nation, and still had bits of grass in it. Modern artists have access to many pigments, refined, synthesized, and optimized for best performance and maximum saturation, but even today still use pigments of humble origin; today’s art was actually colored using sand.
Your average nudist, is generally fairly, well, average. They do not possess superhuman abilities or powers, and generally come from fairly humble beginnings. There generally are not great leaders or amazing talents in the local nudist club, but rather many average people pitching in to make things happen. You do not need to be amazing or special to be a nudist. Find a club near you, and tell them you want to help. They will probably be happy to have you.
The painting we have for you today was created by a man known mainly for his mural paintings. It is a smaller version of a mural created in France by Pierre Puvix de Chavannes, which has a companion piece titled “Winter”. His idyllic paintings prompted a writer to praise it as being a perfect example of all things that are good about life.
He was, on numerous occasions, commissioned to do the murals for both public and private institutions throughout France and became known as the “painter of France”. This title was largely bestowed upon him based on political ideologies at the time and his work was generally known as Symbolist in nature.
In addition, de Chavannes went on to become a co-founder and President of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts and his work influenced great painters such as Pablo Picasso, Georges Suerat and Paul Gauguin.
And while his popularity dimmed in later years he still had a prestigious award named in his honor, first given out in 1926.
Ah, Summer. Now that Memorial Day has passed, we are in the unofficial Summer season (it actually begins on 20 June this year) and our thoughts are turned to doffing our clothing and plunging into a warm lake for a nice swim, followed by lying out in the sun and absorbing its rejuvenating rays. Maybe a little fishing or camping is on the agenda over the next few months. Any way you look at it, Summer is a nudist/naturist utopian period as we get to expose ourselves to nature and the elements.
If modern artists can see far, it is because we stand on the shoulders of giants; art history presents us with a myriad of techniques, materials, themes, and styles which we can either emulate, copy outright, or avoid like the plague. One theme that was very popular in the European medieval and renaissance eras was the Christian concept of the Great Resurrection, or the Rapture (depending on your theology). Not only does it offer the artist an opportunity to showcase her skill rendering the beautiful human form, it is also a very hopeful and worshipful theme. It was also one of the few accepted ways an artist of that era could paint a nude. Artists ever since have reworked that theme for their own age and in their own style, breathing new life into a theme dedicated to the idea of new life.
There are times when talking to a nudist can seem like a history lecture, focusing on great venues and events past, detailing opportunities and organizations that are now lost. It is true that there are many hot springs, beaches, clubs, and resorts that were once nudist or clothing optional that are now very firmly textile. Rehashing how great those places were, however, does not bring them back, nor will it create new places or organizations to take their place. The hope for the naturist community is not to try to remember the glories of old but to seize the pioneering spirit of the founders of the movement, give of ourselves, and start again. Now is the time, and we are the people, who will breathe new life into the nudist movement and remake it for our own age.
Sartorio was born into a family of artists as both his father and grandfather were painters and sculptors. He was self taught, making copies of ancient images from basilicas and Roman museums. He spent time in Germany between 1895 and 1898 where he met and associated with Nietzsche and was subsequently introduced into the Symbolist movement. Upon returning to Italy he joined a group of artists calling themselves the ‘Group of Twenty-Five,’ after which he painted landscapes and friezes for the Biennial celebrations of 1905 and 1907, from which today’s images arise. Wounded and imprisoned in World War I, after ultimately returning to Italy he directed a couple of films for the nascent motion picture industry.
Today’s image shows people celebrating and cavorting as nudists are wont to do when the weather permits. Getting outdoors to celebrate summer is a vital part of the naturist/nudist lifestyle and, as has been mentioned in other postings, is a very healthy alternative to other less effective methods of Vitamin D intake. Even the most reserved person at times wants to just throw off their clothes and feel the freedom a clothes-free lifestyle permits.
Can a piece of art be beautiful if every element that composes it is simple, homely and ordinary? This is one of those counterintuitive truths that is so commonplace that it has assumed the status of a universal truth, yet it bears examination. Canvas is a coarse cloth, used these days rarely, as it is not fine enough for clothes nor as durable as more modern outdoor fabrics. Wood is a commonplace building material and has a simple beauty that can be enhanced by any number of treatments, but is typically unfinished and hidden in a painting as a simple support under the canvas. Paint is nothing more, as a plant manager for a paint company once told me, than mud, glue, and water (ie. pigment, binder, and … yeah, water)(although oil paints have no water in them, so just mud and glue).
The modern realist painter does not tend to want to create a glossy, perfect, idealized figure. Lumps and slumps are left in, along with blemishes, warts, gray hairs, and wrinkles. Posture and expression tell a story of the person right now, just as a scar tell a story about the person’s past; all those have to be included. Real life does not tend to lend itself to perfect composition; a choir performing in ranks may make for good sound but it is not the first idea the average artist will have when laying out a masterpiece on canvas. Put all that together in the context of a group of dedicated artists baring all in a heart-and-soul performance of one of the greatest works of musical and lyrical genius in support of the most important cause of our time and all those ordinary elements combine to for a thing of beauty and joy for all time.
Your average nudist is no one to write home about. Not many celebrities champion the nudist cause (although lots of them enjoy the lifestyle), and the rich and powerful of the world rarely (if ever) mention the topic in a serious and positive light. Few of us are beautiful, few of us are wealthy, few of us are influential. That does not mean we are not kind, or wise, or hard working, or just plain fun-loving folks. We meet in humble venues: member’s homes, simple health clubs, unimproved hot springs, primitive campsites. If you weave together all these common and unassuming elements you create a beautiful and healing experience: a social, mixed-gender, non-sexual, non-judgmental nudity that can open up the soul and mind to new people, places, experiences, and ideas. This movement needs more common folk; it needs you. Join up, and share in the journey. It will be beautiful.
This painting embodies some of the hallmarks of impressionist painting like thin brush strokes and features what could have been happening on any sunny and relaxing summer’s day with people enjoying the moment, perhaps savoring each other’s company. There will be many occasions in the months ahead for people who are lucky enough to enjoy the feeling of their naked skin against sand, soft grass and cool water. Perhaps no cell phones, nowhere particular to be at any assigned time, being alone with their thoughts when they wish to be, exchanging the pleasantries of the day without any preconceived notions of who they are with, just pure enjoyment of being human. And sometimes, that is more than enough.
The Elysian Fields were a special place in the ancient underworld from Greek mythology for the dead who were related to gods in some way. It was an idyllic realm where satyrs could frolic with ancient war heroes and nymphs and where everything was a Utopian existence. ‘Elysium Fields’ was painted by Utica, New York’s Arthur B. Davies, probably sometime in the 1920s. He was the organizer of the 1913 Armory Show and belonged to a group of artists called ‘The Eight,’ who were a group of painters that protested the exhibition practices of the National Academy of Design, a conservative and powerful organization. While five of the members were realists, the other three, including Davies, painted in a more fanciful, less realistic but not quite Surrealistic or Expressionist fashion. Davies was an advisor to wealthy art patrons, giving them some guidance toward making purchases, two of which (Lizzie P. Bliss and Abby Aldrich) went on to become founders of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. When he died it came to light that he had actually had two wives – one legal and one common law – and had children with both of them. Though not well-known, it turns out that Davies was an important artist in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Davies also served as an advisor to many wealthy New Yorkers who wanted guidance about making purchases for their art collections. Two of those collectors were Lizzie P. Bliss and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, two of the founders of the Museum of Modern Art, whose Davies-guided collections eventually became a core part of that museum.
Naturists/Nudists are constantly in search of their own Elysian Fields where they can comfortably and safely doff their trappings of the everyday world and frolic in the woods or the sun, at the beach or at a resort. It is obvious for so many reasons that exposure to the sun and air on the body’s largest organ – the skin – is very healthy, as is the interplay between people of like mind. To go for a swim with a group of close friends or play a little volleyball in the sand without the restriction of a swim suit is an exquisite sensation that cannot be explained – it must be experienced to understand.
Once again we turn to mythology for today’s imagery. This painting revisits the story of Cupid and Psyche. Lucius Apuleius Madaurensis, aka Platonicus, wrote it in the 2nd century AD and tells about the obstacles the lovers Psyche and Cupid (or Amor) faced on their way to a sacred marriage.
Likewise, nudists face obstacles every day to their chosen lifestyle, as in America the public is much more reticent to accept the love of the unclothed human form. We accept it in museums the world over – even here – but in real life, forget it. Nudity is equated with sexuality when, in reality, the true naturist/nudist is more interested in the companionship of like-minded individuals than he or she is in the sexualization of the body. In most cases the love of nudity is NOT a perversion but rather a commitment to a lifestyle that says in no uncertain terms, ’I have nothing to hide.’ The forbidden love of the subjects in this painting is an allegory to life in the 21st century, in which we realize that it is forbidden for us to practice the lifestyle that we enjoy. In the end, however, we always find a way to be natural as we overcome the obstacles in our way, even if we have to practice the lifestyle we love in the privacy of our own homes