Be-ing Without Clothes excludes no part of humanity. Who does not undress every day, or encounter nudity at birth and death? Be-ing Without Clothes excludes no part of anatomy. Doesn't contemporary hedonism delight in exposing skin to sun and view? And isn't nakedness a weapon of the young often used to express disapproval, disgust, even revolt?
Maybe more unconsciously than consciously, the photographer has in the back of his mind some painting or sculpture when he photographs the naked man or woman. So suggests Sir Kenneth Clark in his book on the nude. We should add to this source of forgotten memory imprints other visual intermediaries such as the images in cinema, television, magazines, newspapers and billboards.
The prehistoric fertility figure, goddess of regeneration, swims at every beach in summer. To evoke an earth goddess now, camera overflows with compassion, giving life to what our society thinks is a futility figure. The power of camera to exclude nothing—the ugly, the generic, the disgusting, the lonely, the sick—thereby sanctifies all, even the dead and the disintegrating.
The critical background for this exhibition was Sir Kenneth Clark's definitive book, The Nude: A Study in Ideal Form (Doubleday and Co., Inc., Garden City, N.Y., 1959). How generous a parade it presents of mutations of the nude and naked in art from antiquity to Henry Moore.