Friday, 12 November 2010

The Male Form

We see far more images of the female form in the media and on the web than the male, both clothed and unclothed, but does this mean that the male form cannot be equally as artistic or appealing to the artist / photographer, or to the viewing public ?
Some say that the female is more attractive and therefore as there may be more male photographers in the world so it would follow that there will be more images of the female form, but what about other artists such as painters, drawers, and sculptures etc where the gender spread is more even. I also suspect that in today's enlightened world there are still some reservations with a male form being displayed and in particular one male finding the naked male form attractive especially in the world of photography .. in the purely artistic sense, but is this not rather narrow minded ?. if a male or female artist wishes to study one particular gender form does this assume their gender preference or personal/social status ?
For a female to be a model is considered somewhat natural, possibly healthy to many, however a male model can be thought to be more vein, especially by other blokes, but thankfully the world is changing with more attention to clothes and also cosmetics for blokes being more acceptable and male models are not assumed to be anything less than a red blooded male. Have done a lot of outdoor work with nude females for print sale, and on several occasions women have said "now, if that figure was a bloke I would buy that " - worth taking note !Certainly with regards to artistic full frontal nudity the female body is just about accepted in most cultures, some more than others, whereas the naked male is still somewhat taboo, a wee bit 'naughty', understandably as there is more on display? Working with the male form can be more challenging to keep things discreet, but this should not make the subject anything less of an art form. What it may require is an alternative approach to lighting and posture if we are to explore the subjects masculinity as many art nude images of the female are seeking to portray the form as soft and sensual, or maybe strong feminine, but not very often as masculine. However some images exploring a woman's masculinity can be stunning.
So, is the female form considered more attractive for artists, and what is more acceptable for a nude image for general viewing ?
Maybe the smoother skin of the female and less body hair can create a more pleasing subject, and maybe the curves of the female create a more appealing shape, but a fit male with little or no body hair and good muscle tone can be equally appealing to the artists and the open minded viewer.
Also with life drawing subjects it seems that the female is often preferred and there do seem to be more ladies available, I feel that's partly down to demand rather than men being more reserved. Possibly for younger students the ethics of a naked man may be an issue, but there are many professional males accepted for their form and professionalism.
With female nudity breasts are pretty much accepted in film, tv, and magazines, more so in Europe than the UK during daytime. As for the ladies 'front bottoms' these tend to be kept away from public display until certain times of the evening, that's so that the young are not able to see something they shouldn't ?? but the most we see anyway in normal poses is a tuff of hair or a curved profile, anything more revealing can be considered erotic or pornographic. We don't actually see anything sexual in natural poses, its the fact that she is exposed that seems to be the issue ? Interesting that in countries like France and Italy full frontal female nudity in tv ads is accepted at any time, far fewer artistic camera angles in their shower ads !
A bloke being seen topless is fine (for most) but sight of his tackle can cause a certain amount of discomfort and controversy, to some they may not be the most attractive part of the human body and their appearance can vary with emotion and the the 'climate', its all a matter of taste and acceptance.
Then there is the real taboo subject of the aroused male, often considered to be in the erotic or pornographic corner, but can this still be art ? personally I think its the way the body is portrayed and the message behind the image that makes it artistic or erotic, and that can apply equally to dressed figures

My own work with the male form has been rather scarce, partly due to there being far more lasses around to point a camera at, and also maybe due to images of the female form being more accepted. Most images have been taken during sessions where we were with other folk or play sessions, a few when doing portraits or guys wanting to 'give it a go' . But I may just change that and actually try a few serious sessions, maybe with another female photographer to explore how we see the subject as alternative genders (anyone out here, let me know). I recently had the honor of working with a couple of lady photographers working with female art nudes and found the experience very interesting as their eye was somewhat different to mine. We also did a couple of sessions with myself as the subject which was great to see them working in their own styles from the other side of the lens. Have done life class sittings and a few 'model's revenges' but it was an interesting departure in doing a serious photo session, I believe we should all try stepping out of our pigeon holes and see life from other angles.... it helps us move forward. Bloody photographers, why do they take so long fiddling with their toys !!.