In the many reproductions of Camera Work – which doubtless helped to pave the way to the sun-bathing and easier nudity of a later day – see how they portray the nude body. However honest their efforts, they nevertheless surround the body with a halo of arcadian romanticism; note how resolutely they equip their naked models with glass bubbles; how they compel these naked girls painfully, for the first time in their lives, to pour water out of narrow-necked jugs; how they lash them to the tree stumps or make them shiver at the edge of icy pools. Sex must be disguised as art – that is, artiness – before one may peep at it without blushing. Undisguised, the girl averts her face from the camera, so that the self-conscious and self-righteous face shall not acknowledge the powers of the body. The efforts of these earlier photographers are not to be despised; but the tantalizing fear of sex, a fear of its heady realities, is written over their pictures, with their dutiful aversions, their prescribed degrees of dimness, their overarch poses.

Views on nudes by Bill Jay

ISBN: 0240507312 Page: 97 This book is available from Amazon