In nudes usually just a single person was depicted,
or it was a the central motif of the artwork. Rarely a nude covered
a small group of persons, such as the Three Graces. But it was
only a question of time when some artist would strive for more splendor,
would create a work with more models. Selection of the scene is in this
case however more difficult, to make the work convincing the author
had to resort to some water-related activity; people in history
always used to bath undressed.
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres: Le Bain Turc, 1863.
Source: Wikipedia, C2RMF: Galerie de tableaux en très haute définition.
The honor went to French painter Ingres, the work depicts a scene
from the Turkish harem. Unfortunately the author changed the format
of the painting from square to round a few years after the
creation and so deprived us of continuations in
both lower corners of the image.
The theme of the birth of Venus was also not exhausted yet.
Probably the best example is the picture below, painted by Bouguereau for
the Paris Salon of 1879. It was awarded the Grand Prix de Rome,
to a great dismay of his adversaries, the impressionists.
William-Adolphe Bouguereau: The Birth of Venus, 1879.
Source: Wikimedia Commons, photo by Max Shimasu, Musée d'Orsay, Paris.
In 19th century painting did not flourish only in the Old Continent,
a lot was happening also in the New World. In the field of nudes
great work was done by Thomas Eakins (1844 - 1916), who dealt with
this theme for several decades and also made quite a few studies of
Thomas Eakins: Swimming, 1885.
Source: Wikimedia Commons, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas.
The painting Swimming is now considered to be one of
the masterpieces of North American fine arts, and is at the same time
one of the rare group male nudes. It was based on a
a photograph of his students from the academy.
A similar, but photographically not covered scene took
place in September 2011 in the cave Čolniči / Small Boats near Cerkniško jezero lake,
Slovenia. An unexpected rise in the water level surprised a party,
consisting of DZRJL cavers, members of DLKJ (The Križna jama cave Society) and guests. The
trail to the Great Hall was no longer passable and so the cavers were faced
with a tough choice - either to turn back or to swim across a small
lake, in cold, though not freezing-cold water.
Quite a few of them decided for a swim and some of it can be seen
at 0' 58'' of this short film.
Thomas Eakins: Nude Study.
Source: Bruce and Bobbie Johnson, Sterling, Virginia, http://hoocher.com.
Eakins also made several photo studies for oil paintings which
he later could not (or did not dare to) make. One of them is the
above photo, which was aimed, as many his other athletic studies, to
artistically illustrate the human body power.
Oncoming new movements, the most visible was the
impressionism, brought an end to neoclassicism. Time has come when
the reality chose to move away from the canvas and stone, the time of
metamorphosis. At the beginning the metamorphosis was gentle, brush
strokes just slightly stylized, as with impressionists and the Paris
Amedeo Modigliani: Nude in Red, 1917.
Source: Wikimedia Commons, The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei.
The above painting is one of seven nudes, painted by Modigliani in 1917 for
his only solo exhibition. They were all made at the initiative of his galerist and friend
Leopold Zborowsky from Poland, who provided the studio, canvases,
brushes, the models, food and painter's fee for every day of work.
Paul Cézanne: Les Grandes Baigneuses, 1906.
Vir, Wikipedia, The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia.
The above very lucrative scene was not painted by Ingres,
he was no more, but by Cézanne. The composition is perfect, colors
just as one could wish for, only the girls are already more in style
of time, with the nearing apocalypse of the First World War.
Pablo Picasso: Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, 1907.
Source: Wikipedia, Museum of Modern Art, New York.
The great Spanish painter, Pablo Picasso, certainly could not fall
behind. He embarked on a similar motif, also as an answer to
Joy of Life by Henri Matisse and one of the most
important canvases of the 20th century was made. It in a certain
way illustrates the horror of oncoming times, from
the A-bomb to the cancer-Lyme disease mischief of today.
Especially the portrait of the upper right prostitute could very well
serve (according to DZRJL maverick Bajsi / Fatty) as a picture to be
put on the cupboard so that the children would not dare to steal
biscuits from it.
Marcel Duchamp: Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2, 1912.
Source: Wikipedia, Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Things took their own course, and to recognize
a woman descending a staircase in the above picture,
not wearing a long dance dress, and that it is also not a case of multiple superimposed
images, requires quite a lot of imagination. But it certainly cannot
be denied that the picture has a very beautiful transition from
tired sandy color to completely dark brown, with all the hues in between.
The painting could serve as a good starting point for an abstract
depiction of Stopnišče / Staircase tunnel in Najdena jama cave,
painted with light.
After the artistic big-bang at the end of 19th and in early
20th century it was (and is) no easy task to move on. Just as the
great Flemish school
left a great void after 17th century which lasts till today, it is
difficult to assess how the art of 20th and early 21st century will
be judged by posterior generations.
Pablo Picasso: Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, 1932.
Ten most expensive paintings, ever sold at auction (as of August 19, 2017) there are four by
Pablo Picasso, and three are nudes - one by Modigliani and two by Picasso.
One of the two is shown above, it belongs to the more eye-pleasing part of Picasso paintings,
while one of the paintings in top 10 is a monochrome pop art piece. Just one buyer was brave enough
to expose himself, Liu Yiqian, others preferred anonymity.
Between the two wars there were some reflections of past times, for instance in the
paintings of Tamara de Lempicka, typical of her work is the
and Eve (1932, private collection).
Later on there were some examples of quite surprising paths to nude opera.
Such is the case of 240 works, painted by
between 1971 and 1985.
Lucian Freud, Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, 1995.
Modern time has little contact with beauty as it was understood by former generations.
An eloquent example is the above picture, painted by the grandson of Sigmund Freud,
the father of psychoanalysis. The painter is also known for the very unflattering portrait of
Queen Elizabeth II.
Lucian Freud (1922 - 2011) is certainly not the only
representative of the new nude aesthetics. Members of the new
generation, well known are for instance the works of English painter Jenny Saville (born 1970),
continue in this direction. In her nude, appropriately titled
she enriched the picture with contour lines, as are present on
In sculpture the works of Jeff Koons, ex-husband of Ilona
Staller, with a stage name Cicciolina, are still very much in vogue.
In 1990 he made a series of photographs, paintings and statues for
the "Image World: Art and Media Culture" exhibition (Whitney Museum).
The series was titled Made in Heaven, the models were Koons
himself and Ilona and the content was more or less erotic. In the
opinion of many his set design lifted kitsch to unsurpassed levels; an example is the
painting in the technique of oil inks silkscreened on canvas titled
Fingers between legs.
Later on he devoted his talent mainly to inflatable structures, often
made of tin, painted with metal colors and polished to high gloss. A
recent example is the statue of the American
singer Lady Gaga,
The biggest boom in the area of nudes, especially in recent
years, has come in photography. A proper overview of this field would
require a major study, so let us illustrate it with just two outstanding examples.
The first is, who else but the master Helmut Newton with
his prophetically titled diptych
Sie kommen / They are coming (Undressed and dressed), 1981.
In the area of
female beauty the works of
Robert Mapplethorpe gained and kept
a very remarkable place, especially in the depiction of vitality, the
force of life.
Spencer Tunick: Nude Installation, Eastnor Castle, England, 8 August 2010, 11:11 a.m.
Nowadays fine art is not limited just to painting and
sculpture, installations are becoming commonplace. Sometimes they are
durable and can be kept in a gallery or in home, sometimes they are more
instant, they last just a couple of minutes or hours.
In the field of nudes a good example are the nude installations of Spencer Tunick,
with several ten to several thousand models. Years ago the models,
who apply for participation in these events simply over Internet, "just
like that" or au naturel, while in recent years the artist, as
can be seen in the above photo, started to color them.
For confirmation of hope, that all is not lost in modern art, speak the paintings of
several authors. One of them is the Cypriot painter
George Kotsonis, who studied in Beijing and graduated in Prague.
Two of his examples are
A Couple with a Horse, probably the gentlest contemporary nude painting.
Most of publicly accessible works of Slovenian artists of the past
is gathered in the National gallery of Slovenia.
The gallery keeps an Internet catalogue and in the folder Exhibitions, further down to
Permanent Collection and to
Slovenian Early Modernism
we quickly find the impressionist painter Matej Sternen and his
An anecdote is related to this particular nude, told to writer of these lines
by Rok Vidmar from the Ljubljana University Computing Centre, where they both used to work.
While in high school the class of Rok visited the National Gallery to
see its Permanent Collection and when he returned home his father
between the two (world) wars one of the more prominent members of
Ljubljana night life, asked what Rok liked best in the gallery.
Without hesitation Rok answered that it was the nude in red. To which
his father added that the model in real life did not look
half as well as on the painting.
Though it is a very small country, Slovenia has quite a few
prominent contemporary painters. In the field of nudes
Kalaš (1942) has a very special place. He was a longtime professor at the
Ljubljana Academy of Fine Arts and Design where he held the courses
Likovna anatomija / Anatomy for Artists and Prostorske zasnove / Spatial Concepts.
He invented a painting technique, called aerography, where the acryllic colors
are applied to canvas, layer after layer, through a
machine driven airbrush. Kalaš's aerographic paintings give a realistic impression,
but are softer, gentler, subtly distorted by artist's imagination - his aerography suits nude very well.
A good example is
(1971) from the Kalaš's exhibition in 1971 which stunned both the writer of these lines and the
public in general. The computer era was coming in full force,
Ljubljana was in 1971 the host of the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) world
congress, the author just started his first computer-generated
graphics, lace-like patterns based on trigonometric functions,
but that the milestone time will find such a charming echo in fine arts nobody could
Very interesting is also Kalaš's reflection on beauty in modern art,
published in the Slovenian
weekly Mladina, on 23 April 2009:
... Beauty does not have the same validity it had in traditional arts,
mostly it is not welcome at all. Artistic avant-gardes have developed
the aesthetics of ugly ...
which is well in line with the nudes of
Freud and Saville.
Before moving on to the chapter on cave nudes it could be a good idea to
explain some nude classification terms. This classification is of great importance
for implementation of nudes in underground environments.
Francisco Goya: Naked Beauty (La maja desnuda), around 1797.
Source: Wikimedia Commons, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid.
Nudes as the above example, painted on canvas at the end of
18th century by the famous Aragon artist, are nudes which are at
best described with This is it." No masquerading, no hypocrisy,
no hiding, if I am a nude I am a nude and not a still life with fruit
and flowers. Goya was in trouble after this painting - a pinch of
hair in the (im)proper place disturbed the Spanish Inquisition (without
that hair the image would pass without problems, as even nowadays in
Japan) and he was summoned for an interrogation. What he was asked
and how he answered is not known, anyhow he was spared burning on the
stake (slightly out of vogue at the time) but lost a lucrative job at
the Spanish court.
Egon Schiele: Semi-nude Reclining, around 1917.
Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Semi-nudes usually depict just the upper part of the body as is the case in the
above Schiele painting, or are rarely nudes where a certain part of the body (it is clear which)
is covered by a piece of cloth, a scarf or hidden in some other way.
Semi-nudes are now common, the upper part of the female body is
no longer such taboo as it used to be and in United States there is a
movement for the equality of genders to be topless in public.
In recent years it was also proved, especially in the case
of an Easter Island movie titled Rapa
Nui, filmed in 1994, that for Hollywood tanned breasts are much more acceptable than white.
More on the subject was written by Roger
Ebert - his thought that female breasts are the most aesthetically pleasing part
of the human anatomy is especially precious.
Nude with Cat on a Chair, 2012.
Source: Wikimedia Commons, Flickr.
Implied nudes are nudes, where the angle of view is
selected so that (before all) the crotch is not visible, or the body is
positioned in such a manner that the crotch is out of sight again, for
instance by putting a leg over another, view from the side of the
covering leg. These are "like" nudes with a motto: It is all
undressed, but again nothing can be seen and so everything is OK.
In recent years the behind, just as the upper part of the body,
became acceptable and practically all so-called charity calendars
fire brigade or
calendars - click to View gallery) are of this kind, with implied nudes.
Bruno Wiese: A Female Nude Bathing in a Classical Landscape, 1930.
Source: Wikimedia Commons, photography from the auction catalogue at Christie's.
Landscape nudes or Nudes in landscape are nudes, where the model
is part of a landscape entity, such as a forest grove or a clearing or
even landscape at large. This change in ratio of the figure size
versus the picture size further dilutes and alleviates the
"horror of the true believers" when they are faced with an undressed
human figure. The viewer is also not certain what to look at, the
landscape itself or the nude in it. The latter is because of the
distance anyhow not well visible, the painter did not have much
room to paint it.
In caves it sometimes happens that an interesting arbor, tunnel profile,
a distinct stalagmite or flowstone heap itself leads to a better composition
with inclusion of the nude in the entire scene, to a good landscape
nude. Such instances are but rare and one must keep well in mind
underwater photo contests from years ago. One of the contest rules
always referred to the fish size: Fish size must not be less than
20 % of the picture size - or the photo will be discarded. Some
entrants just could not come close enough to the fish and were forced
to make pictures from afar. So the contest jury would have, without
this rule, a problem to determine whether the distant object in the picture
is a fish or something else.
Female Nude Painted with Australian Flag, 2005.
Source: Wikimedia Commons, Flickr.
Besides flanking maneuvres such as implied and landscape
nudes in recent years painted nudes or body painting are also increasingly popular.
As with nudes it is possible to distinguish real painted nudes and,
more often, painted semi-nudes, where the paint is applied over the
underwear (not in the above painted nude). Special food colors are
used which are, as opposed to usual painting colors, much less toxic
and can be washed away reasonably fast.
One of the elder members of DZRJL,
has certain experience in this field. Back in 1981 at Levernaka
island in the Kornati archipelago
he painted his beloved, undressed, with just one color, vivid green,
over the entire body save the face. She stepped into the calm sea, up
to her knees, he added two or three green apples (Granny Smith
variety) in front of her and made a photo, good enough to be
published, full page, in one of the prestigious magazines.
Her name was Alenka, she loved him very much, for over two
Painted nude, with images of various fruit, was the
subject of Fructal, a Slovenian fruit juice company, calendar. It was
just one picture, poster sized, for all the months, on cardboard.
The year I do not remember, on internet it was not to be found,
but I remember that the calendar was, in many shops and other places,
kept on the wall years after it has lost its calendar role.
Edward Poynter: Cave of the Storm Nymphs, 1903.
Source: Wikimedia Commons, Private collection.
In the depiction of nudes, as could be seen very well at the housewife charity
calendar, the authors use a combination of several approaches to
bring the viewer thirsty across the water. Most often is an implied
nude, placed at a distance as a landscape nude. The above painting is
a good example - there is a near landscape, cave entrance, three
figures in the role of implied nudes, strategically positioned so
that the viewer can admire all the beautiful transitions of hues from light to dark on tanned
bodies, but nothing more. The splendor and opulence of the motif is
highlighted by the sinking boat in the background, as well as its
treasures which the three nymphs have discovered in the cave -
coins are flying in the air, gold trickles from the chest at right.
Caves are a rather special part of human environment, not
really common and so have a weaker echo in the art as other natural
milieus such as mountains, the sea or scenes from everyday life. But
as caves are mysterious, picturesque and the supposed connection to
the world beyond (entrance to Hades) artists did not completely
Franz Kurz zum Thurn und Goldenstein: Tkalca jama cave in Rakov Škocjan, Slovenia, middle of the 19th century.
Source: Wikimedia Commons, Narodni muzej, Ljubljana.
With a little imagination the first cave nude, a landscape
group nude to be precise, could be attributed to John Wyatt Valvasor
in his epochal monograph from 1689. It depicts a scene from the Rov
starih podpisov / The Tunnel of Old Inscriptions in Postojnska jama
cave. The flowstone concretions, stalagmites and stalactites were of
similar color and transparency as the human skin and so the shift to
this metaphor was easy to come by.
Janez Vajkard Valvasor, Postojnska jama cave (From The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola, 1689).
Source: Wikimedia Commons, photo by Janez Drilc.
17th century was certainly the time when underground spaces were
generally believed to be the Satan's residence, even DZRJL members of
hundred years ago had to face such superstition, and this belief
certainly influenced Valvasor's engraving. If the bodies are more or
less human the heads are devilish, as if the masters
Fellini and Kubrick
(Eyes Wide Shut)
would cut their fantasies completely loose.
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres: Oedipus and the Sphinx, 1808.
Source: Wikimedia Commons, Louvre, Paris.
Classical painting of the golden age, the 19th century, does not offer
many cave motifs and even less cave nudes, but here and there an
example can be found. Cave environment was always somehow mystical, it
adds tension and splendor, as is the case with the above painting by
Several contemporary art photographers also tackled the topic of cave nudes.
A good example is Ryan McGinley with his first solo exhibition
Moonmilk in the London gallery Alison Jacques in 2009; it
attracted a lot of attention. Works exhibited were mostly landscape
cave nudes, often with colored light sources. They are interesting, but still feel
somewhat distant. In the lot there is a nice semi-nude in orange
while Jonas and Marcel Blue Altar
feels sad, as if they were about to start crying. It is really difficult to
withstand this cold and wetness without proper clothing.
Besides the cave nudes of Richard Forster, mentioned in the
introduction, recent time also brought two calendars with scenes of
cave and body beauty.
In 2007 Jamarsko društvo Železničar / Railway Caving Club Ljubljana published a 2008
calendar with motifs from seven Slovenian caves. Peter Gedei,
a renowned Slovenian cave photographer, shot the 12 published photos in half a year.
Unfortunately he removed all related pictorial material from the web
and so all that is left are two cropped
calendar pictures, published on the website 24ur.com, very likely
without his consent. An article titled
For Eros on the Walls / Where Have all the Original Calendars Gone?
was written by a nude-and-porn expert Max Modic.
He is known as the director of the third Slovenian high-budget hardcore movie
Gremo mi po svojo / Let's Go Get Our Own (Pussy) in 2012.
Max Modic lived to his reputation and two charming, very non-hardcore
Gedei's photographs are accompanied in the article by two naive-art
porn paintings from the 2004 "Planting Calendar"
by Tatjana Plahuta.
While shooting the calendar pictures Gedei certainly did not have a free rein,
all the models, half male, half female, were his caving buddies from
the club. To make the idea at all viable he had to limit himself
to implied landscape nudes. The concept was set in
advance and could not be changed during the implementation.
Peter Gedei: A scene from Mitjina jama cave, 2007.
The picture is a partially cropped photo from the calendar.
It is a good example, very much in style with other photos.
Cave motif is carefully selected and elaborately illuminated.
Without the just mentioned limits it could be a very
handsome cave nude, now it is, to a great extent, being rescued by
the smile of the model.
She is not of a slim build, but nevertheless a beautiful woman.
In contrast to today's skinny models, where the look of the
consequences of prolonged starvation really hurts, she is just enough opulent
and it adds a special charm to the picture. Unfortunately the nude
had to be implied and so Gedei covered the confluence of all the
views with the thigh of the other leg. This body part is but heavy
and shows the model, to put it mildly, in much less flattering light
than would be the case of a straight nude. Similar can be said for both
aesthetically most pleasing parts of the body, her are beautifully
shaped but here we can only admire one, the other is hidden by the
braid. About the (un)suitability of the helmet a few lines are
written in the next chapter, but we have to praise Gedei for omitting
the boots. Maybe he did it to protect the delicate flowstone in the
picture, more likely it was done because boots would definitely ruin
this nude. Other photos are practically all with boots, including the
second Gedei's nude published on the site 24ur.com (it is actually a
small part, 10 % or so, of a very handsome cave landscape).
Female legs are beautiful and the longer the better. Boots take away
a quarter of the legs or even more and are of a great disadvantage to
To draw a line below the above observations - regarding the restrictions
he faced Gedei did a great work. Calendar, aimed at the strengthening
of the club's finances, was sold out. The author has only 2 or 3
copies left. So the decision was made in 2014 by his grotto, JKŽ, to make
another nude calendar in the near future. It would be in the same, well proven style.
Gedei is not afraid of the cold, all shots are first made with a
dressed model, quick undressing follows, the final shot is made, and
the model is immediately re-dressed.
cave nude calendar for 2013 was shot by Laura Brown, helped by
two members of the Westminster Speleological Group. It was half a
year of work in 2012, on location in several English and French caves. The size is
A3, the price 10 pounds plus postage, all profits went to South & Mid Wales Cave Rescue Team
and Yorkshire's Cave Rescue Organization, the calendar is sold out.
Photos are mostly even more of landscape art if compared to Gedei's calendar, but it is not always a
disadvantage. Especially the last picture in the above linked report
of Daily Mail,
is just splendid, really Tarzan-like, the figures at the side are just for the
decoration and measure. The calendar was very well received and it
shows that such works are now commonplace, and are not considered
problematic any more.
It would probably be very difficult to find a keen photographer, prepared to delve a little deeper into the
subject, who would not, sooner or later, think of nudes. This
statement is valid especially for the members of one of the two
I vividly remember the photo, taken by Anton Pečan, father
of an acquaintance Lučka (pron. Loochka) Uršič, more known in sailing circles,
but a good friend of DZRJL member Arne Hodalič, a distinguished
photographer and author of the best pictures of the Slovenian national
animal, the cave olm
or Proteus anguinus. Pečan's picture was taken at the pebble beach
of the Sava river, the model was his beloved, later also Lučka's mother, in thick woolen
bathing suit, such as was common at the time, in the years just before WWII.
In the picture, which would of course be much better as a nude, all the
photographer's affection to the model is clearly felt and it is
also evident how much she enjoyed his attention. But as it even now happens to most
of those behind the viewfinder, Anton was afraid to ask her for a
nude. His question and her eventual refusal would inevitably spoil
the magic of the riverbank moments. The times were, however,
in many ways much tighter from now and so the photo just could not be
Anton Pečan: Roža (Rose), my girl, Sava river beach, August 1931.
In 1953 the first issue of Playboy magazine was published,
with dressed Marilyn Monroe on cover and a few of her (implied)
inside. It paved the way to real nudes, and the way was not short. 18
years later, in the January 1971 issue, a report on Liv Lindeland from the country of fjords was
published, including her nude
It was sort of shy but still more real nude than something else.
Wider availability of Internet after 2000 brought general
accessibility of nudes, but otherwise the times have not changed, the subject
is delicate as ever. Fear of consequences is still very much alive,
as it was in 1797 when Francisco Goya painted the
Naked Beauty and lost his job.
The only difference now is just that the fear of consequences has shifted
from the photographer to the (unprofessional) model. There are
certain factors that are more aggravating than others, for instance
if the model works in public administration or if the
parents are strongly religious. Sometimes even relatively innocent
scenes are too much.
During the shooting of the feature caving movie
White Pussy Cat Cave
in 2005 on location in Mačkovica cave, the shooting script included a
scene which proved problematic. The path through undiscovered parts of
the cave brings the cast of four cavers, three boys and a girl,
unexpectedly on an old trail, quite close to the entrance. Everybody
is happy and the girl, Metka, should spontaneously, out of joy,
embrace Janko, one of the boys, and kiss him, just on his cheek. And
the scene had to be removed because Metka was afraid of the
reaction of her boyfriend. The destiny however has its own paths,
often ironic, and so the boyfriend left Metka long before the movie
was finished. Not because of it. Just that Metka could not know
this at the time ...
To make the long story short, the writer of these lines had
limited experience with nudes many years ago, in accordance with
facts from the previous paragraph and with modest opportunities.
After 2000 the era of digital photography came in full swing, with
all the benefits it brought to cave photography where traditional
photography was usually just guesswork, and it
coincided with the author's conclusion that the life is not infinite
and that such wonderful opportunity is not to be missed. After a
longer time of only occasional cave photography he again devoted most of
his free time to this difficult but rewarding field. It resulted
several cave photo exhibitions, often with pictures where models were
dressed in unconventional caving suits.
Primož Jakopin: Scene from the Svetišče / Temple in Putikova dvorana / Putick's Hall of Najdena jama Cave, May 2004.
A little earlier, also in 2004, came an opportunity to
make the first cave nude. The author was well aware that the chances
to publish any such work are, for the reasons of protecting
both the model and himself, next to impossible yet the desire to
open the new horizons was simply too big to bend and give up.
Primož Jakopin: Nude. Solarized photograph, Jezerina cave, December 2005.
If nothing else the experience has been accumulating slowly. That the
implied nude detour makes little sense was clear right at the
beginning. The first photo also showed that the helmet and
light on the head of the model do the motif more harm than good.
Which is even more valid for the boots. Michelangelo's saying, once
already written here: What spirit is so empty and blind, that it cannot recognize
the fact that the foot is more noble than the shoe, and skin more beautiful
than the garment with which it is clothed? are not just empty
words. There must be
circumstances present to justify the use of footwear.
In a few months it was also evident that landscape nudes are rarely
successful, most often in unusual conditions such as is an
extraordinary, picturesque cave profile which complements the nude
well. Several problems, connected to cave nude photography, also came
The worst problem is the cold, and it is a very serious one. The approach, used at the
2008 Railway caving club calendar: a dressed rehearsing shot, followed by
a quick undressed shot, and back to the caving suit, is not always
appropriate. It turns out that the ideal illumination, the
right combination of light and dark which shows the model in a most
flattering manner, requires some testing. Planned few seconds quickly
evolve into not just a few minutes, time runs as mad, and the cold is
ruthless. Insulated bottle with hot tea can help, so do a lighted
gas cooker on the floor and the rubber hot water bottle. But at best
it is to work in caves in the vicinity of a warm sea, in
Dalmatia for instance, where the temperature is, like everywhere else
in caves, equal to the annual outside average. In the Mediterranean
caves this average is 18 degrees Celsius, in tropical caves several
degrees more, in Slovenian lowland caves from 8 to 10 degrees C,
in alpine caves just above zero, at about 2 degrees C.
Another problem is the cave pollution. In a very attractive
Podpeška jama cave (easy access) the lower levels of the cave are contaminated
with the village sewage. The bad odor is barely noticeable, but
people (especially the model) have a good chance of later health problems
because of air-transmitted infectious germs.
Some problems were caused by the lack of team. For a good illumination
three flashes (on tripods) are usually required, one from one direction, second
from the other side, to soften the shadows, one from behind, for the
highlights, and often the fourth flash on camera, to trigger the
other three. The first shot shows that one (or more) flash has to be
moved, or its setting changed. What all takes time, and time in the
cold knows no mercy. The photographer is forced to work in a hurry.
But hurrying is a godfather of carelessness, one is very likely to
stumble on the uneven cave floor, to kick some tripod leg
and if the photographer ends up
unhurt, at least some flash will get broken.
A lot also depends on the model. Even the slight
discontent on the face can turn the picture from a top and delightfully beautiful
into a useless one. Here is also the place to mention a factor that some
will discard as unimportant, but is not. In the case that all the
basic prerequisites for a good nude are met, certain features of the model
are also important. Besides the face and its eyes, the mirror of the soul, the
convergence point of all the picture views and its haircut are not to
In the above set four of the standard mustache styles are shown, from clean shaven to natural, they are
also common in the pubic hair trimming. It is not difficult to guess which is the most appropriate for the cave nudes.
Another issue which depends on the time of the year's four seasons and which is due to partially
dressed sun bathing, are the
In the winter they are (almost) gone, if the model did not decide to
break the winter by some vacation in the tropics, but at the end of
the summer and in the autumn tan lines can be quite annoying, they
remind one of painted nudes. These lines can be masked by instant
fake tanning creams, which but only last a few days.
In the paper the trail winded through the picturesque and
rich landscape of this evergreen topic. Nudes are a very grateful
motive, in the field of art they reach quite at the heart of beauty depiction,
comparable to the meaning of life problem
in philosophy. On the other hand the topic is utterly delicate. Human
eye is a very accurate and merciless judge, and if it can observe the
light of a candle in the dark at a distance of 20 kilometers, it is
also capable to quickly determine if the nude is on the correct side of the line
that separates an artistic experience from attempts at erotic
depiction on the calendar pages in the car repair
workshops. The line is very thin, and as with poetry, where
it takes the perfect harmony of contents and form to get a Shakespeare,
cave nudes immensely benefit to cave nude if the scene makes sense.
As had been the case with Apelles and his Aphrodite, a good cave nude
is most easily achieved in a water setting, preferably in a sea cave.
And to present all the beauty and achievements, collected over
time? Though there are many opponents to this opinion, the calendar
still seems to be the best solution. Every photo is viewed for a
month, and if some happens to grow close to viewer's heart, it can
remain on the wall after its month has expired.
If some caving buddy with a talent for free hand stroke drawing could
be located, the beauty of the photography could be replaced by the
low-entropy elegance of an artistic image such as the nude
(A. Chubar, 2004). And in case of emergence of an Inkscape virtuoso a
cave nude calendar with compositions like
(author unknown, also 2004) could also be a very welcome refreshment of the calendar scene.
The idea of the author of these lines, presented in June
2014 to the audience of his native grotto, DZRJL,
to make a nude cave calendar for 2015, was put aside. The modalities
around it, somehow turbid water took so long to clear up that the
train left the station, that it was too late. Only a
managed to jump on the last wagon - it depicts members of DZRJL, male
and female, in full caving gear on various locations in Najdena jama
cave. The shelving of the 2015 nude cave calendar also happened to
Peter Gedei, the author of the first such Slovenian calendar (2008).
To cut the long story short, at the end of 2014 the country
of the classical karst, of the most visited cave in the world and the
many kilometer-plus deep shafts on Mt. Kanin barely missed another
unexpected underground marvel, not one, but two cave nude calendars.
But the story is most likely not finished. This contribution
might provoke some other Carniolian master of painting with light, and
the two protagonists from the past paragraph also
did not throw in the towel yet ...
Page written and posted by Primož Jakopin;
send inquiries and comments to
primoz jakopin guest arnes si (insert dots and at sign as appropriate).
Page first published on June 22, 2014, minor changes May 12, 2015, August 20, 2017, June 2, 2019,
October 9, 2020, January 4, 2021.