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Naked Kate Moss and the Emperor

Published by Kate Jones on 28-May-2013 Photography, Art, Industry, Fashion
Tags: kate moss, terry richardson

Kate Moss has been recreated in iqoption the nude for twenty-five years, and is seemingly the modern, tattooed equivalent of the Venus de Milo. And yet, as the subject remains the same, the construction of the nude in fashion constantly evolves. Just as every lover has their own distinct touch, so too do the photographers which construct the works that punctuate our culture – from Helmut Newton to Terry Richardson, there’s an honesty to nude expression with its roots in centuries of art. Through more than sexuality, nudity offers an insight into intimacy between fashion and reality. But what happens when the intimacy becomes editorial?

Terry Richardson might just be the icon of a degraded culture of anti morality, a culture which cares more about how pop stars look naked than artistic context. It’s possible, and if you were to build your perceptions purely upon his work, which itself seems based on how naked you can get whilst undressing somebody else and calling it ‘professional photography’, could be arguably accurate. Or, is he a pioneer who normalises the naked through starkers celebrity subjects? Is he a mimetic reflection of a sexually liberated society?

The understanding of nudity has as many different interpretations as it does examples, and throughout recent history the portrayal of the nude figure has varied both in style and cultural context. As long as there has been photography, there has been nudity in it. What was once sordid pictures of young girls, swapped secretly like coveted baseball cards in opium dens of the 18th century, now is the subject which prevails in advertising, sported on billboards, campaigns and editorials alike. From Helmut Newton’s, saucy, stockinged subjects strutting for the lens to Irving Pen’s graphic, globular nudes reminiscent of Henri Matisse sculptures, nudity has been one social constant, regardless of cultural shifts. And it makes sense. Nudity is the unavoidable human condition shared by prince and pauper alike, because regardless of who’s wearing what, we are all naked underneath. This is the case even more so now with the recent proliferation of the internet. Nudity (as well as everything else) is more accessible than ever before, iq login and because of this, it’s also more varied in its form. It has become an accessory. Nipples are found with as much frequency in Vogue Italia as they are on page three. But the way in which we see nudity does (somewhat) divide into different paradigms. Though one subject will be seen a hundred different ways by a hundred different people, (and an entirely different way again from the photographer’s vision), streams of character have shown themselves, and proved,

1. Sex and nudity can be very different things
2. Everyone likes Kate Moss naked.

Editorial photography is something which can be categorized by a timeframe, but it seems needless. With each artist being influenced and influencing another, regardless of the period, and due to the transitive nature of inspiration it makes the idea of dating a style somewhat moot. Obviously it could be done, but it’d be less fun.

During the last twenty years we’ve seen great technological developments, which have profoundly impacted photography both in style and method and whatever school you study, be it traditional or digital, Kate Moss has been a subject. From her earliest nude shoot, nubile and raw in 1990, to her bare-breasted and bold floral arrangement earlier this year, she has been created and depicted by practically every major photographer of the last two decades. This repetition of subject has created a collective distinctiveness, allowing the identification of certain styles, and through such, an understanding of the nude figure in fashion and society today. Nude photography can be seen in four overlapping, through distinctly separate styles.

In 1996 Irving Penn shot Kate Moss on film, using a textured studio backdrop, soft monochrome colours, with a single, large diffused light source. Though black and white is a common technique, in fact used throughout all schools, the image created is characteristically traditional, displaying beauty and divinity reserved for classical photography. The style is constructed, posed and artful. Other artists of the style are Paolo Roversi, Peter Limbergh and Patrick Demarchelier. The revered and deeply beautiful imagery plays on the natural characteristics of the subject in a raw, but composed celebration. The subject, in this case Moss, is intriguing with the juxtaposition of natural minimalism and technical expertise creating a scene of a viewer’s admiration rather than objectification. This is the classic nude depiction, the photographer is a narrator, separate to the scene. Nudity in this style is familiar, though profound, as recognizable to us as Manet’s Olympia (1863).

Nick Knight’s 2012 shoot of Moss displayed his progressive style. As an artist, Knight is socially engaged and tech heavy, pushing the boundaries of what can be shown and created often using the surprising as a subject. Using minimal front lighting and deep shadows, he creates surrealist sense of movement, this movement is a great example of the progressive style and is typically linked with the use of digital cameras and eloquent post-production methods. In this style the subject is used as an emotive tool, to convey a feeling or sense through the relatively abstract figure. In contrast to the classic style, the imagery is more about the emotive subtext conveyed by the figure rather than the subject itself. In this shoot, Kate as a figure is far more prominent than herself as a person, as such her pose, the light and the feel become the true subject of the image. Steven Meisel could also be considered a progressivist. The progressivist use of nudity conveys the mysteriousness of lust in society, the sense of coveting though not comprehending what or why which saturates our culture is depicted. It’s the glimpse of a gorgeous stranger in the street, and the blurred, fumbling caresses in the dark.

Pop Culturalists combine celebrity culture and fashion to creating bold, blatant imagery, very much with a ‘getting who to do what’ mentality. Terry Richardson defines this style. When he shot Kate Moss in 2012, he used his typical straight, on-axis camera flash. Known for using very few technical elements, Richardson relies on content over all else. The style is defined by bright, simple shots of celebrities being controversial. It’s for easy consumption, and is obvious and without true subtext. Another such photographer, though known for somewhat more refined work, is Mario Testino. The depiction of nudity here is crass, brazen and generally objectifying. It’s the less artistic side of society which portrays the subject purely as an object. It’s often simple, cheap and fun, though dirty and detached. If this type of photography were a person, they’d be named after either cheap liquor, cheaper perfume or an expensive car.

Finally, the sensualists normalise the nude figure, with a sexy, though approachable, and sometimes kinky depiction of the nude subject. A pastiche of other styles, this form encapsulates the reverence of the classicists, the movement and abstract grace of the progressivists and the fun element of the pop cultutralists to create an uninhibited and intimate depiction of the nude subject. Mario Sorrenti in a 2012 shoot of Moss shows her as languid though empowered. Shot outdoors on location, an element of realism purveys amongst the beauty and flawlessness. Corrine Day’s shoot of the sixteen year-old Moss on the beach shares characteristic similarities, though with the rawness of the then teen herself. This sensualist style offers an honestly of human beauty, it’s a perfected representation iqoption login encompassing normalcy, flawlessness and intimacy. Today, this is the photographic liberation of love. It’s honesty, put prettier.

Fundamentally, nudity is coveted and taboo, it’s the truth that’s often a lie and it’s what we all like looking at. Throughout recent decades examples of these styles of nudity can be found in editorial, as well as other artistic mediums. Nude editorials offer an insight into the intimacy of the human condition, of our natural state, and of the many forms and perspectives it represents, though with one constant - beauty is invaluable and everywhere. Photographic artists can reflect what is around us, and throughout life like throughout fashion you will find beauty both accurate and otherwise. The observation is just as subjective as the portrayal, and just like the uniqueness of a lover, some are romantic, some are old fashioned, and some are creeps, like Terry.

Text by Kate H Jones. Kate H. Jones studied English and Creative Writing, is a fashion writer and blogger who works in publishing. Image credit, Kate Moss Irving Penn (1996)

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