Male Nudes - Anne-Marie Levine in conversation with Chris Carr

May 27, 2016
6:00 - 8:00

Anne-Marie Levine launches her continuing project Male Nudes, an editioned boxed-set containing 16 loose prints by the artist. Levine will be joined by photographer (and her occasional model) Chris Carr, in a conversation about their experience surrounding that work and its implications; How does a woman look at a naked man? In what ways are male bodies interesting, beautiful, meaningful to both men and women?

Levine’s work is situated in response to what she notes as a largely absent tradition of the naked male form in visual art, especially works created at the hand of women artists. The depictions of male nudes we do have are often attuned to physical strength and a posture that is more aggressive than personal. The work in Male Nudes attempts to find an equivalent of the familiar female form that is rarely seen in reverse; the male as odalisque shown relaxed and playful.

Attempting to lift the veil and change the historical narrative on nudes, this is the counterpart to Courbet’s Origin of the World: male genitalia from a woman’s view. Depicting reclining and relaxed males, she hopes to fashion a continuous visual history on the man without clothes from a feminist and female perspective. Meaning and beauty are to be found in these vulnerable and exposed bodies rather than erotic or pornographic subject matter.

The work is interested in the body for its own sake, and her models – whom she paints from photos taken on her Blackberry – are shown headless in order to remove the temptation to focus on the face and the story it tells. Levine explores the complicating implications of all of this–the counteracting push of vulnerability and exhibitionism between viewer and viewed, and the empowering/disempowering gaze in the context of a charged art history and gender politics.

In the words of Sally Mann: In taking these pictures I joined the thinly populated group of women who have looked unflinchingly at men, and who frequently have been punished for doing so. Remember poor Psyche, chastised by the gods for daring to lift the lantern that illuminated her sleeping lover. I can think of numberless male artists, from Bonnard to Weston to Stieglitz, who have photographed their lovers and spouses, but I have trouble finding parallel examples among my sister photographers. The act of looking appraisingly at a man, studying his body and asking to photograph him, is a brazen venture for a woman; for a male photographer, these acts are commonplace, even expected.

The box set, produced by Small Editions, features a tipped-in color photo printed by Levine on the exterior. Available here