I was taken by friends to the play Calendar Girls this week and in the play the characters have to be semi-naked on stage, which is very brave of the actors, as is all performance in public that calls for revealing the unclothed body.
Kenneth Clark wrote brilliantly about the difference between the naked and the nude and it is true that art has made nude images of the body an accepted art form in its own right and the history of painting and sculpture would be unimaginable without them.
From Titian to Freud the nude has played a primary role in art. As an artist spending many hours life drawing by observing the body, nudity becomes an unintimidating but still special event.
During the 1980’s and 90’s I was involved in organising a large weekly Life Class and I always found the silent gathering of artists and models an intensely moving experience. I still believe all visual artists should attempt this discipline at some point.
There is something of us all in the recognition of the vulnerable human body but it is also empowering for the viewer to realise the truth of the naked transformed into the nude. It is the power and responsibility of art that this transformation is never taken for granted.
The Life Class is a symbolic arena where life, artifice and truth come together in an extraordinary way, a stage where the body is just one element in a timeless creative process.
My Life Class Drawing du Jour: