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Today I’ll write a few words about Jean-Léon Gérôme. His painting “The Slave Market in Rome (Slave Auction)” was used as an illustration in my previous post. Jean-Léon Gérôme (Vésoul, Haute-Saône, May 11, 1824 – Paris, January 10, 1904) was a French painter and sculptor in the style now known as Academism. The range of his works included historical painting, Greek mythology, Orientalism, portraits and other subjects. Academic art is the art and artists influenced by the standards of the French Académie des beaux-arts.

The following painting is described as complex self-portrait being a summation of Gérôme’s remarkable career as both painter and sculptor. It is also a commemoration of his famous sculpture Tanagra (1890, Musée d’Orsay, Paris), a stately nude personification of the ancient Greek city.

Working in Marble, or The Artist Sculpting Tanagra by Jean-Léon  Gérôme (1890)

Working in Marble, or The Artist Sculpting Tanagra by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1890)

Below there’s a small selection of paintings by Jean-Léon Gérôme. Painting studio (a “splendid room, with its great sculptures and paintings, some still unfinished, and a famous collection of barbaric arms and costumesaccording to a contemporary), oriental motives, imaginative representations of slave market seem constant subjects of his art.

The End of the Sitting by Jean-Léon Gérôme

The End of the Sitting by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1886)

Bethsabée by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1889 or ca 1895 ?)

Bethsabée by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1889 or ca 1895 ?)

Selling Slaves in Rome by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1886)

Selling Slaves in Rome by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1886)

On this photo one can see the painter and sculptor with his model photographed on the occasion of Salon 1887.

Omphale statue presented at the Salon in 1887: Jean-Léon Gérôme  with his model

Omphale statue presented at the Salon in 1887: Jean-Léon Gérôme with his model

Links
1. Jean-Léon Gérôme – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
2. Jean-Leon Gerome Online
3. Jean-Léon Gérôme – The complete works
4. History of Art: Neoclassicism and Romanticism – Jean-Leon Gerome
5. Historia del Arte Erótico: Jean-Léon Gérôme
6. Orientalist Art: Jean-Leon Gerome Paintings

What does it mean to be normal? Most people thought about it. (A sudden quote from J. Krishnamurti: For most of us, thought is a means to change. Through thought we hope to change, through ideas we hope to transform ourselves…)

Among the definitions that can be found in a short article in Wikipedia I like this one: “a normal” is someone who conforms to the predominant behavior in a society. Although conformity is common, the predominant behavior might change from society to society or even within the same society or tradition.

Fortunately, there exists an online experiment to determine what is normal via unscientific surveys. Spending a few minutes at ‘Is It Normal?’ everyone can discover is it normal to like cloudy days (91% visitors of the website believe that it is Normal) or to talk to your dog (72% Normal). The founders of the website consider normality in the context of how others might perceive your situation. It is unambiguous and honest. This implies, of course, that normality does not exist by itself, but only in the ‘minds of others’, and that your own point of view worths less than the public opinion. The website has a Safe(r) mode (see link in the top right corner of the page). When Safe(r) mode is on, the site attempts to hide as much ‘of stories and comments on it that many people out there might be offended by’ as possible.

The community cannot avoid questions concerning nudity.  90% vote that it is normal to like being nude. Some warn that not in front of people, others suggest naturist camps and resorts. Only 72% believe that it is not weird to sleep naked and 76% consider that it is normal if someone takes naked pictures of him- or herself and that confidence in your body is a good thing.
Les vacances (nue au soleil)
Les vacances (nue au soleil), originally uploaded by -{ KaLiNe’s Body }-.

I think, surveys like these can determine rather the level of normality of the society or community, than of an individual, and the results presented above are good indications.

The Ukrainian tabloids discuss some piquant news. It happened so that the photosession of the girl singers from the group Арктика (not widely known even in Ukraine, I think :-)) appeared recently in the Ukrainian edition of Playboy. I would pass over this outstanding event, but the discussion about the images from this photosession has drawn my attention.

The point is that someone in Ukrainian Playboy was ridiculously not good in photo editing.

Playboy: Арктика (Арктический зной)

Playboy: Арктика (Арктический зной)

From these images, one can conclude that these playmates were too shy to pose naked, but at the same time they wanted to established themselves as local erotic stars in Playboy. The conflict between opposite motivations (commercialization of nudity and fear of it) produced this comic effect. Maybe it is characteristic for modern society when people consider nudity a problem and cannot decide themselves whether it can be appropriate.

This leads us again to the discussion on reality in photography.

Photography like painting could reproduce the impression given by reality. But that is not necessary. The photography learned to lie long before the era of digital cameras and Photoshop had started. From the early 1860s photo manipulation (retouching) is considered as an allowable and desirable way to improve a picture or photograph.

Some time ago I discovered a lovely nudist image ‘Tobago Cays Dipping‘ by SunCat. It could serve as a great desktop wallpaper, I thought then.

48328552_6b6e0b1c7f_b

Tobago Cays Dipping by SunCat

Describing this photo, SunCat writes: `Not an official nude beach, but the locals are very nude tolerant‘. All his photostream is full of wonderful shots and definitely deserves attention.

Nice image, but it can be improved, of course. A month ago or something I came across the site promoting the book called ‘The World’s Best Nude Beaches and Resorts’.

The Cover: The World's Best Nude Beaches and Resorts

The Cover

The book was compiled by an international team of writers and photographers and published in the UK by Lifestyle Press Ltd. This book undoubtedly might be interesting and helpful. But take a look at the cover of this exciting and modern guide.

Peer at the photo at the bottom and compare it with the first one.

The World's Best Nude Beaches and Resorts

The World’s Best Nude Beaches and Resorts

I shall not guess what image is original and who holds the rights to it. (I don’t know whether the author has given a permission to use and manipulate his photo.) I just want to say that one of these images is distinct from reality reflected in another.