The unclothed human body is simultaneously the most highbrow and lowbrow artistic subject on the planet—Michelangelo loved the nude, but so does the guy behind Girls Gone Wild. Jesse Pearson’s new book Nudity Today explores the nude photography of ten young artists roughly between the ages of 20 and 30, including Tim Barber, Jerry Hsu, Sandy Kim, Maggie Lee, Nicole Lesser and Jordan Bennett. It examines the new moods and outlooks in photography engendered by the heady era that witnessed the explosion of the snapshot aesthetic, the birth of digital photography and the proliferation of online networks and outlets for sharing and exhibiting images. As these technological changes shaped the means of photography, the continuing relaxation of social mores transformed its ends.
The young art photographers of today are more open in their sexuality and freer in their bodies than the generations that came before them, and the intimacy and spontaneity of their lives comes across unfiltered in their work. Nudity Today opens with an introduction that examines the major influences on these young artists–the photographers Ryan McGinley, Terry Richardson and Richard Kern. Kinship with and the influence of these three artists can be seen in ever-varying combinations in the generation of photographers that made themselves known in the first decade of the twenty-first century. The sensuality and earthiness of McGinley, the humor and raunch of Richardson and Kern’s concision and voyeurism have molded the younger photographers who are making nude photography today. With its wall-to-wall, scrapbook mode of design, Nudity Today illuminates just how big this movement is–how many young artists are making intimate, beautiful, funny, and even sometimes shocking nudes.