Every couple of months, a huge deal is made out of some Hollywood starlet appearing nude in a magazine, nude in a movie role, or semi-nude in a glamorous airbrushed photo spread. The entertainment coverage goes berserk, the star gets mega-publicity, and the public snatches up those magazines to gawk at what amounts to a mere glimpse of some actress’s navel, or partially exposed boob. We ever-so-jaded art models think, “Yeah? So?”. Big whoop. We simply can’t get caught up in the hype because, well, we work in the nude all day 5 or 6 days a week – and we’re offering a lot more than glimpses! Also, those carefully staged and airbrushed images are not nudity in the true sense of the word, not as artists and art models understand it. Our definition is quite different.
Good art modeling requires a great deal of body confidence. By that I don’t mean the “Look at me, I spend 15 hours a week in the gym, check out my rock-hard abs” strutting around the beach in a skimpy bathing suit kind of confidence. For an art model, the confidence stems from a complete embrace of both your unvarnished nudity and your body in movement. Art models must “surrender” to their role, and fulfill the expectation that they will not only pose nude, but pose confidently, uninhibitedly, expressively, and without the benefit of Photoshopping, flattering lighting, or the magic worked by professional hair and makeup people. We are, as they say, the “real deal”.
Recently I read an article which referred to a young actress’s “brave” decision to pose half-naked in a magazine. I chuckled when I read it. “Brave”? Is it really “brave” to put yourself in the talented hands of a Herb Ritts or Annie Leibovitz? Is it “brave” to be pampered and prepped by assistants for hours before you finally shoot the “big shot”? A shot that’s been processed, imbued with fakery and driven by vanity? (Yes, those showbizzy nude shots are vanity-driven, but in Hollywood that’s perfectly understandable). Art models, however, are working from the polar opposite of that. We actually discard our vanity. We are working for others, not others for us. Big distinction.
I’d like to share this drawing with all of you. It was done by my pal Fred Hatt. I was posing at Figureworks Gallery in Brooklyn, and if there is any place one could call a “no-frills” environment, it’s Figureworks. There isn’t even a model platform, believe it or not. The model poses on the gallery floor, with blankets and pillows of course. And you know what? It’s fantastic. I’ve done some of my best posing there. This particular drawing demonstrates the raw honesty of real nudity, and the creativity that bursts forth when one has to work in an impromptu – rather than contrived or premeditated – fashion (the artists too). This pose, with one raised arm and the other arm across my body, just sort of happened. I turned my head to the side, my legs climbed up the wall, and there it was. Fred captured it all in a fleeting 10 minutes. And the results are great! Like I say, to art model you simply have to let loose, have fun, and just rock your body . . .