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Nudes and Landscapes

Contemplating and celebrating the female nude in contemporary photography


 The nude—male or female—has long played a vital role in our perception of beauty, and thus in the fine arts. From the Apollo Belvedere to Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, it has compelled artists to closely observe, construct, deconstruct, and impart complex meanings to the human form. 

In this issue, well-known fashion photographer and frequent Trend contributor Peter Ogilvie takes up the challenge of rendering the nude in landscape, a convention pioneered by 20th-century photographers like Edward Weston. Ogilvie’s landscapes, though, are different. They are made in the studio out of paper and plastic and set in evocative dialogue with his statuesque female forms.  “I like to create landscapes as environments to reveal and capture the subtlety of the human form,” says Ogilvie. “I have been intrigued by the female nude for as long as I can remember. Female bodies are incredibly various. There is no normal, no standard. The variety is infinite.”

“It is in portraiture and figure studies that photography’s opportunity lies.”


“The Greeks perfected the nude in order that man might feel like a god, and in a sense this is still its function, for although we no longer suppose that God is like a beautiful man, we still feel close to divinity in those flashes of self-identification when, through our own bodies, we seem to be aware of a universal order.”


“Does the harmony of the body and soul depend on the ideal beauty that different cultures and times offer us? Rubens preferred fat women, Modigliani thin ones, and Botticelli’s limpet ideal is not the sickly anti-ideal of Egon Schiele. Even so our choice of beauty depends on our concept of beauty. Why is one body more beautiful and another not?”


“The problem with painting a nude… is that it deepens the transaction. You can scrap a painting of someone’s face and it imperils the sitter’s self-esteem less than scrapping a painting of the whole naked body.”


“For soul is for me, and doth the body make.”

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