Auckland (c) Ilan Wittenberg (c) Ilan Wittenberg Faces of Cairo
The subject of the female figure is an artistic tradition which indicates the historic value of beauty and fertility. In this series, I explore the female nude figure through a collection of photographs in the studio and on location.
Nude female figures represented in art can be found as early as the Upper Palaeolithic era - the last Stone Age period. Similar images which represent fertility deities, gods and goddesses in Babylonian and Ancient Egyptian art were precursors to the works of Western antiquity. Other notable traditions of artistic nude representations can be found in India and Japan: in particular, traditional Hindu temple sculptures and cave paintings -some very explicit- indicate the value of sexuality; a reveal a culture where partial or complete nudity was common in everyday life.
The nude figure was commonplace within Ancient Greek and Roman art, and after a semi-dormant period in the Middle Ages, returned to a central position in Western art during the Renaissance. Athletes, dancers, and warriors statically express human energy and life, while nudes express basic and complex emotions. The nude figure constitutes a subject genre of art - similar to landscapes, or still life.
Nude photography is a genre of fine-art photography which depicts the human body with an emphasis on form, composition, emotional content, and aesthetic qualities. The nude has been a prominent subject of photography since its invention, and played an important role in establishing photography as a fine art medium.
Erotic interest, although often present, is secondary; which distinguishes art photography from both glamour and pornographic photography. The distinction is not always clear, and photographers tend to characterise their own work subjectively, although viewers may have different impressions. The nude is a controversial subject across all artistic mediums, but more so within photography due to the inherent realism. The medium examines issues of representation and identity, sexuality and voyeurism - some nude photography deliberately blur the boundaries between erotica and art.
In the context of the 21st century, it is difficult to make an artistic statement in the medium of nude photography, given the proliferation of pornographic imagery - which has tainted the artistic subject in the perception of most viewers, limiting the opportunities to exhibit or publish artistic nude images.
In presenting this series, I offer you an opportunity to contemplate and appreciate the juxtaposition between human and nature: soft flesh and harsh environment; life and stillness; white and black. The use of monochrome emphasises the nude shape and form, removing distracting elements to ensure that you focus on the beautiful feminine body language. These photographs portray powerful and independent women who are depicted through fresh, inspiring and original artwork.