Modern pessimism denies the intrinsic beauty and replaces it with a subjective vision that cares little for the objective truth. In this thought the figure, whether nude or clothed, loses its form by putting more value on its symbolism than its actual form. That’s when you need a Rembrandt to step in a remind us of the value of content in its relation to form and beauty! -Shane Conant
Artists often focus on the nude, not the naked, and I think it is important that we understand the difference between the two not just in the personal sense but how it makes a difference in the basic condition of approaching a work of art. Art school is partially responsible for our focus on the nude because it necessarily looks at the figure first as an object to be drawn. Even some photography schools insist that their students first take figure drawing classes before moving on to other forms of photography. Understanding the basic mechanics of the nude form is essential to accurately portraying the figure in other settings.
At the same time, part of our need to find symbolism and meaning in the nude form comes from a defensive position wherein we feel the need to justify having an unclothed person in front of our lens or our canvas. Moral criticism of the nude, which by its very nature objectifies the body as a thing to be shamed, puts artists on guard and finds us looking for meaning in work that, such as today’s image, doesn’t necessarily need any additional meaning for it to be appreciated.
I very much like this quote from an artist who understood the difference between nude and naked:
Hitherto the nude has always been represented in poses which presuppose an audience. But my women are simple, honest creatures who are concerned with nothing beyond their physical occupations… it is as if you were looking through a keyhole. (Edgar Degas)
Dripping chocolate down a naked back has absolutely no symbolism, no greater meaning, no architectural inference. Mmmm, Chocolate is simply dripping chocolate down a naked back. That’s it. Nothing else. Any artistry comes naturally in the juxtaposition of light and dark, highlights and shadows, contrast and toning. One needn’t be an artist of great experience or full of profound thought in order to take this picture. Sometimes we don’t need any reason for capturing an image beyond the basic desire to capture that specific image. Art doesn’t always need an explanation or deeper meaning. Let art be art. Let naked be naked.