’30 Degrees in the Shade’ by Georges Barbier, Chéri Hérouard, Georges Léonnec and others
Today’s image, an art deco cartoon of three young satyrs spying on a topless sleeping woman, was illustrated by a group of artists for the magazine La Vie Parisienne (Parisian Life). This is an antique lithograph from 1926, at a time when art deco (or ‘style moderne’) was all the rage. It came into vogue around World War I and lasted into the 1930s. Encyclopaedia Britannica says, ‘Its name was derived from the ‘Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes,’ held in Paris in 1925,’ where it was first exhibited. Art Nouveau, the Bauhaus movement and Cubism are all integral influences on Art Deco, which was characterised by clean lines and simple but elegant imagery, frequently featuring nude females, animals and foliage. Egyptian and Native American themes seem to be prevalent in the United States (Art Deco really took off around the same time as Lord Carnarvon discovered the long-lost tomb of King Tutankhamun.)
While satyrs and other mythological figures don’t usually play into Art Deco images, nudity frequently does. Nudism was taking hold in Germany at the time – though, with the rise of the nascent Nazi Party it was kept underground at first before being exported to other European countries. France, in particular, embraced it and expressed nudity frequently in its Art Deco pieces – fitting since it was France that really embraced the style to its fullest. Whilst the subject matter of the Art Deco movement didn’t necessarily play on mythology, early Greek and Roman art did have a big influence on portrayals of the human body, both male and female, in Art Deco pieces. Art Deco goes a long way toward softening the image of nudism as anything other than a natural way of living. It demystifies the nude human figure and ‘de-eroticises’ it as well.
‘Nude Beach’ by Judy Grupp
Judy Grupp is a lot of fun. She says on her website that there is a box of 64 crayons in every one of her paintings, a hearkening back to her first memories of art as a child, which she obviously relishes. She calls herself a mixed media artist who blends Realism and Abstract styles into a unique style that encompasses acrylic paint, coloured pencils and collage, but she is not averse to using other media such as ‘anything from vintage door knobs to antique music paper and buttons,’ she said. ‘I am the crayon box and my art is the magic that lives inside.’
So today we have a whimsical piece, simply titled ‘Nude Beach.’ It’s an adorable look back at the days when simplicity and innocence were all our lives were. It was cute to run around the beach naked – as long as you were a little child. Then, somewhere along the way, we’re taught that the naked body is BAD and it’s perverted to walk around naked all the time. Well, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Naturists/nudists live with the simplicity and innocence that most people lost as they grew out of childhood. Naturists/nudists don’t look at body parts, they look at the entire body as a work of nature. Naturists/nudists don’t look for sex every time they get undressed. And naturists/nudists are peaceful people who just want to be left alone to pursue their lives in the simplest ‘fashion’ they can. So, on this last Monday of August, think about those days from your distant past when running around the beach naked at age 5 elicited comments like, ‘Oh, how cute’ and remember how free and easy you felt without any worries or cares in the world other than just running around the beach naked!!!
‘5 Nude Figures Sketch’ by Kim Hunter
Kim Hunter, a modern Canadian artist, who started signing her work as INDIGO in 1995, was born in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1970 and specialises in sketches and other graphic representations. The family moved to Manitoba, Canada when she was nine, but she returned to British Columbia in 1990. She was entirely self-taught by the time she was 14 and already selling her art. At 18 she travelled around Canada selling her art. Her website says, ‘The last few years Kim’s focus has been on paintings, murals, portraits, animation, commercial art and instruction. This talented artist is versed in oils, watercolor, tempura, and acrylic paintings, clay & bronze, polymer sculpture, papier mache’, Plaster of Paris, as well as commercial design, branding, animation, crafts and instruction.’
Wreck Beach in British Columbia is reputed to be ‘arguably … the best nude beach in North America,’ according to the website nakedplaces.net/canada. It may seem strange to find nude beaches in Canada, but even in winter the temperature in Vancouver is relatively mild. Coastal BC is a temperate area that, according to the British Columbia visitor website, ‘a warm coat and an umbrella’ are sufficient, so hardy souls can still get out and get nude in winter. The website says it does snow there but that it doesn’t last very long. Personally, I don’t think I’d be counted amongst the hardy souls, but in spring and fall it can be very enjoyable and in summer hundreds of visitors can be found sunning themselves nude on the beaches along the coast. Though I doubt I’ll ever make it, Vancouver, BC is on my bucket list of places I’d like to visit, and Wreck Beach would definitely be on my list of places to visit. Other places that cater to the nudist/naturist crowd in and around Vancouver, BC are 1001 Steps Park, Brunswick Beach, Lost Lake, Prior Lake, Witty’s Lagoon Beach, Little Tribune Bay, Florencia Bay, Three Mile Beach, White Rock Beach, Mission Flats Park, Red Sands Beach, Painted Rock Beach and Ram Creek Hot Springs. So, as you can see, there are tons of places to visit and enjoy nude recreation in Vancouver. It’s a great thing that living a nudist lifestyle there is so easy and it’s too bad that it’s not as easy or prevalent in the States. We could take a great lesson from our neighbours to the north!!
In honour of the Summer Olympics, which concludes tomorrow with the final medal matches (including the gold medal basketball round with the United States going for yet another masterpiece) and the Closing Ceremonies tomorrow night. Today we pay tribute to the ancient sport of Pankration (think UFC or mixed martial arts). This was a violent sport with very few rules. Punching was allowed, though the fighters did not wrap their hands the way they did for the straight boxing competition. In addition, kicking an opponent in the stomach was perfectly legal. The only actions not allowed were biting and gouging an opponent’s eyes, ears, nose and mouth with the fingernails. Truly a barbaric sport and the reason I saved it for last. As usual, the combatants fought in the nude, giving neither opponent an advantage over the other as far as having some sort of clothing to grab hold of for leverage, which, in this particular case, must have resulted in some serious road rash!!!
Fortunately, competitions at nudist resorts don’t resort to violent activities. For instance, Southern California’s Glen Eden resort offers activities such as dances, karaoke, a tribute to Woodstock every year with a number of bands over the course of three days, tennis, water volleyball, cribbage and billiards. Nature’s Hideaway in Oklahoma offers swimming and volleyball (as do most resorts), billiards, horseshoes, hiking and boating. Rock Lodge in New Jersey offers tennis, volleyball, swimming, pickleball, hiking and biking. Many resorts are kid-friendly and offer archery, talent contests and game nights and a number of resorts offer yoga classes for adults as well. And Chautauqua Gorge, near Buffalo and Niagara Falls, though it’s not a resort and doesn’t have competitions, does offer about a mile-long river hike with many amazing small waterfalls, a skinny-dipping pond and a couple of nearby clothing-optional campgrounds. So take some time off for a week or just a weekend, find a resort or campground near you and get out there, get nude and get fit.
Javelin throwers – red figure kylix, c 5th century BC
In honour of the Summer Olympics, which has only a few days left before the Closing Ceremonies, we are paying tribute today to one of the first events of the ancient Olympic Games, the javelin throw. In ancient times, the javelin was basically a wooden spear as long as a man was tall – sometimes with a metal tip – that was hurled as far as the contestant could throw. It was part of the Pentathlon, along with the running, jumping, wrestling and discus competitions. The competition was created to pay tribute to the Greek army cohort that used spears in battle. The rules required that the spear-point actually pierce the ground and not land flat. Today’s image is a kylix, a wide-mouthed shallow drinking cup or bowl with two handles on opposite sides and a pedestal stand and was predominantly used between the 6th and 4th century BC before it was replaced with an easier and more modern looking drinking vessel.
The javelin thrower would grasp the shaft of the spear in the middle, with his fingers in the thong attached around the device’s centre of gravity, which helped the thrower guide the javelin with better precision. He would cock his arm back, take a few running steps and let loose, his nude body moving smoothly and effortlessly. Smooth and effortless is how nudists like their lives, as do all of us, and coming home and doffing your daily uniform is about as smooth and effortless as you can get. We’re now past the mid-point of summer and the days are getting shorter – noticeably. The nude resorts are full of vacationers trying to get as much open air on their skin as possible before the weather gets too cold to have this kind of fun. If you haven’t done so yet, get out there and find a nude beach (like Gunnison in New Jersey) or a great campground or resort (like White Thorn Lodge in Pennsylvania) or an awesome nature hike (like Chautauqua Gorge) and enjoy some nude recreation.
‘Discobolus’, 450 BC statue
In honour of the Summer Olympics, which has only a few days left before the Closing Ceremonies, we are paying tribute to one of the most beautiful and famous of all the ancient Greek statues, Myron’s ‘Discobolus’ (The Discus Thrower). The lines are crisp and clean, the body is exquisite and, if this is any indication of what ancient Greek athletes really looked like, they would be a formidable opponent in the modern day Games.
The discus is a ‘lenticular’ projectile – round and convex – originally made of stone and later of bronze and iron, was heavier than today’s competition discus and was one of the events in the very first Olympic Games in 776 BC, as part of the Pentathlon event (along with the javelin throw, running, jumping, wrestling, boxing, pankration (the olympic.org website describes it as ‘a primitive form of martial art combining wrestling and boxing, and was considered to be one of the toughest sports. Greeks believed that it was founded by Theseus when he defeated the fierce Minotaur in the labyrinth.’) and equestrian events such as horse racing and chariot racing). The discus was then awarded to the winner of the competition and discus throwing is still one of the most respected events in the track and field category today. Having tried it when I was in high school, I can attest to the difficulty that comes with throwing it. You have to twist and contort your body and then unwind in the opposite direction, take a couple of steps and heave the discus as far as possible. The distance it will travel is dependent on the upward angle of the throw. An Olympic analyst the other day explained that a 30 degree incline is optimal to get it to travel to its farthest distance.
As was always the case, the discus throw was done nude with no resistance from a loincloth to interfere with the smooth motion of the athlete’s movements. This concept can be found today in the practice of nude yoga and nude aerobics and other exercises. There seems to be a subconscious action performed when doing these things in the nude – when wearing clothing, you reach a point where you feel them pulling against your skin and you may not stretch or perform to your greatest potential. Without clothing, however, there is no material to brush against your skin and you may subconsciously stretch further or get more out of your exercise session by running in place faster and with higher knees, jumping higher, squatting further, doing sit-ups more efficiently and moving smoother between yoga poses. Try and find a nude yoga or fitness programme where you live and give it a try or just do it at home. Either way, go for it.
Sprinters, 4th century BC amphora
In honour of the Summer Olympics, which is now winding down, we bring you today an example of a race between two contestants on an amphora – a vessel to hold wine or oil – from the 4th century BC. There has been a vast amount of archaeological finds over the years of pottery, mosaic tiles, wall paintings and other forms of art that paid tribute to ancient Olympic events. This is how we know that there was wrestling, running, javelin, discus, and equestrian events – particularly chariot races – with the emphasis on the athletics. There was even a competition for trumpeters and heralds.
Team USA is blowing away all competition in the 2016 Rio Olympics, so in their honour and in the spirit of the Games, the rest of this week will have some of the multitude of artifacts that present the ancient Games from a time in which they were still being operated.
Tradition says that the Games were held in the nude because it enabled runners to go faster than they could whilst wearing a loincloth. One of the legends of the origination of the Games tells of a runner who lost his loincloth and won the race so the other runners began to emulate him after that. Then it spread to other sports, the competitors realising that, in wrestling, for instance, it took away an advantage of an opponent if you weren’t wearing clothing that could be used to throw you to the ground (of course, you had the same handicap). In discus, where you have to twist your body around, spin around a couple times and let loose the stone, wearing a loincloth would also be confining. Likewise throwing a javelin.
The Greeks had no problem with public nudity, unlike other ancient civilisations. The Romans forbade nudity in public, believing it to be offensive, except in the baths, and in some regions prisoners were paraded through the town naked, so nudity was looked on as a symbol of defeat. The ancient Mesoamerican tribes (Aztec, Maya, etc.) were an example of this practice as they were led to the central pyramid altar to be sacrificed to the gods. But the Greeks loved the human form and could be found working in the fields, dancing and exercising nude (the word ‘gymnasium’ comes from the Greek root word ‘gymnos’ which means naked). Along with the artefacts that have been unearthed that pay tribute to the ancient Olympic Games, so have there been many that show everyday life and people living much their lives in the nude.
‘The Wrestlers’ (c. 1840-1) by Sir John Everett Millais, Bt
In honour of the Summer Olympics, which is now winding down, we bring you today an example of a wrestling match in ancient Greece. Wrestling was one of the events of the ancient Olympics. It is said that the Games were invented in ‘776 BC, when Koroibos, a cook from the nearby city of Elis, won the stadion race, a foot race 600 feet long,’ according to the Penn Museum web page on the ancient Olympics. Married women didn’t attend the events as they were banned from Olympia where the Games were held. They were allowed to attend the festivities and other sporting events in the surrounding cities and villages, but there was a ban on Olympia and it was said that if an married woman were to be caught there, they would be thrown off the mountain. There was a separate set of games called ‘The Heraean Games,’ held every four years like the Olympic Games were then as now, where a special cloth is woven by 16 unmarried women and presented as a tribute to the goddess Hera, wife of Zeus (to whom the Olympic Games were dedicated according to ancient tradition).
Now, as for the painting, Sir John Everett Millais was born in 1829 in Southampton, England, the son of a wealthy man. And his mother’s family made saddles and were also quite successful. He became the youngest student admitted to the prestigious Royal Academy Schools in 1840, after attending Sass’s Art School 1838. He proved to be a child prodigy as he won the silver medal at the Society of Arts when he was only nine. He won another at a competition in 1843 with a drawing based on antique art and won a gold medal in 1847 for his painting ‘The Tribe of Benjamin Seizing the Daughters of Shiloh,’ according to the Tate Museum website.
Participants in the ancient Olympic games ran, wrestled, long jumped, shot put, threw the javelin, boxed, and pankration (the easiest way to describe this sport is to think of UFC fighting) in the nude. The story goes that the Spartans introduced nudity into the games in the 8th century BC because nudity was traditional in Sparta. An article from ‘Forbes’ magazine on nudity in the ancient Games says that, ‘a runner named Orsippus (or Orhippus) from the city of Megara decided to go naked, probably at the fifteenth Olympiad of 720 BCE in order to win the one-stade race (NB: a stade was the length of a stadium, which was often around 185 meters). The 5th c. BCE historian Thucydides suggests that this shift to nude athletic competition perhaps happened a bit later, closer to his own time. To him, athletic nudity was a show of civility in the face of the barbarism displayed by the Persian enemies to the East of Greece.’
Donald Kyle notes in his book ‘Sport and Spectacle in the Ancient World,’ ‘The human body-male or female, fit or flabby, clothed or naked-is the ultimate symbol…In Archaic Greece, disrobing fully to become naked for sport became an assertive communication of maleness, ethnicity, status, freedom, privilege, and physical virtue.’
Nudists/Naturists have very similar philosophies – freedom, privilege and physical virtue. In today’s world, we have done away with concentrating on maleness, ethnicity or status in favour of concentrating on unity, family, inclusion, and acceptance.
‘Nude Descending a Staircase’ (1912) by Marcel Duchamp/”>
Born in Normandy, France in 1887, Marcel Duchamp spent the greater portion of his life traveling throughout Europe and the United States. He eschewed the prevailing art styles of the day to become one of the first abstract artists, saying that he wanted to ‘put art back in the service of the mind.’ The painter Willem de Kooning called him a ‘one-man movement.’ In The Armory Show of 1913, which was set up in America, this painting is usually referred to first and is widely considered to have ‘stolen the show.’ He was still painting more realistic nudes until he started experimenting with Cubism and Futurism in 1912. This piece is one of his earliest.
Nudists are certainly not abstract figures, however, abstract thinking is a hallmark. To want to be nude as often and as long as possible is considered anti-social because it goes against the ‘norms’ of society, however, we know it to be something entirely different. Since the movement came to America in the early 20th century, people of all income strata have delved into the world of nudism, first because only rich people could afford to go to the exclusive resorts that allowed freedom of body expression and nudity but eventually spreading to the rest of society as people who couldn’t afford the resorts held nudist gatherings in their homes. Eventually, more affordable campgrounds became available that allowed nudists to enjoy nature the best way they know how.
‘Bacchanal’ (1964) by Bob Thompson/”>
Bob Thompson was a Modernist black artist from Louisville, Kentucky who developed his own more or less abstract style beginning in the 1950s and ending with his premature death in Rome at the age of 29 in 1966 . The Smithsonian calls his work ‘inspired by the play of good and evil, which creates both order and chaos in the relationships of man, animals, and nature. In his vision, nude female figures express nature’s sensuality, while birds symbolize power and freedom as well as his preoccupation with the ultimate flight of death.’ His paintings are vibrant and colourful and occasionally used his admiration of the Old Masters as a starting point for his own art.
Nudists live a vibrant lifestyle, experiencing nature at its purest. The idea of nudism promotes order out of chaos and closely resembles Thompson’s philosophy of relationships between humans and nature in all its forms. The love of sunshine and water on the nude body is in keeping with his visions of the natural world as a free-spirited way of life as his paintings seem to show, even though his bright paintings sometimes show dark subjects. Bright sunshine, green trees and blue water bring to life the nudist spirit and it is this kind of spirit that would surely be a great thing to have as a general rule in this world.
‘Paradise’ (1912) by Lovis Corinth/”>
Lovis Corinth was born Franz Heinrich Louis Corinth in Tapiau, Ostpreußen, Germany in 1858 and died in Holland in 1925 of pneumonia. He is considered to be an important impressionist painter who began his studies at Königsberg art academy before continuing his education in Munich in 1880. He was influenced by the naturalist paintings of the Munich ‘Leibl-Kreis,’ which was a style of art within a circle of friends of the German artist Wilhelm Leibl. Other members of this circle were Theodor Alt, Louis Eysen, Karl Haider, Fritz Schider, Otto Scholderer, Carl Schuch, Johanna Sperl, Hans Thoma, Wilhelm Trübner and others, who basically worked in German Realism. Much of the work created by this esteemed group of artists was virtually indistinguishable from Impressionism and Pleinairism (a 19th century French school of art characterised by painting outdoors as opposed to the relative sterility of a studio). He lived for a short time in Paris before returning to Munich in 1901, where he opened an art school for women but suffered a slight stroke in 1911. His catalog includes more than 100 paintings as well as many books and essays on painting.
The outdoors are what nudists/naturists crave. The summer months are cherished by those who enjoy nature au naturel. Until you personally experience the freedom and joy of being nude in the sunshine and water you can’t begin to understand the appeal. A gentle breeze or a slight current in a lake, river, pond or even basking in a pool creates such a sense of comfort, ease and contentment that can’t be conveyed in words. And even in winter, when we are all confined to our homes, relaxing without clothes can help relieve the stresses of everyday life – and today we have a LOT of stresses, whether it be job-related or caused by tensions between both friends and strangers because of a poisoned political season. Throw off your clothes, throw off the world and relax.