Nudes in black and white
Nudes in black and white hold a special place in fine art photography. In this limited-edition art nude photograph, the subject strikes a dramatically elongated pose. Her curves stand in contrast to the hard concrete slabs of the background and the regimented lines of shadow. The lines march diagonally across the ground then vertically up a portion of the wall, capped by a much bolder almost horizontal line of shadow.
Where the shadows fall upon her body, they serve to emphasize her organic shape in an otherwise flat and angular setting. A wedge of sky at the top of the image and treetops peaking over the concrete barrier hint at the world beyond the visible scene. This triangular shape echoes the incomplete wedge shapes formed by the vertical concrete barrier and the visible portion of the ground. The shadows draw the eye in from the bottom right corner, along the subject’s body from toes to fingers, and then finally along the bold shadow line in an imperfect zig-zag.
These shadow bars enclose the scene, almost giving the impression of a cage that contains the protagonist. Her pose evokes an attempt to break free, with one arm and leg fully extended and held off the ground, fingers reaching and toes pointed. Her other arm is bent to support her torso, her other leg bent with her toes resting delicately on the ground. Her back arches gracefully and her head is thrown back, her chin reaching for the sky. A strategically angled thigh prevents the image from being erotic, though it is still a sensual celebration of the female form.
Her clenched fist, sharply angled head posture, and desperately reaching arm all seem to suggest anguish and distress, although her closed eyes and elegantly arranged legs provide an apparently relaxed counterpoint. Perhaps she is stretching luxuriously, perhaps she is fervently attempting to escape her shadowy bonds.
The monochromatic palette of this nude art photograph removes the distraction of color, allowing the viewer to more deeply appreciate the female form as well as the pattern and strong perspective created by the lines of shadow. Subtle tonal differences reveal the subject’s contours while the bold shadows of the bars play over her curves and highlight the topography of her form.
Atop the array of shadows is a bold horizontal band of shadow, four times as thick as the other shadows. These projections are on slabs of concrete that enclose our view. A hint of sky both gives us a sense of the world beyond and affirms how shallow the visible scene is.