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Female Photographers and Male Nudes

It occurred to me that there are very few women out there taking artistic nude photos of men. The obligatory Google search didn’t turn up a whole lot, although the Visual Sensations for Women site pointed me toward the exquisite photos of Vivienne Maricevic. Vivienne takes fabulous black and white photos of ordinary guys with jocks full of personality, all of them distinctly sexy in their own way.

As seems to be the case these days, Yahoo was a little more helpful. The directory of “erotica photography" pointed me in the direction of some lovely photos, although the ratio of female-to-male nude photographers is still disparate. Ex porn star Justice Howard has a number of humbdingers in her public gallery, including a gorgeous guy with angel wings and some very saucy nude pics of ex-Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Dave Navarro. Sylvie Blum has some lovely examples, although curiously she divides her nudes up under the headings of “nude" (women) and “male nude" (men). Irina Velichko has a few solo male nudes on her difficult-to-navigate site, but the female nude still dominates.

A bit more searching brings up the name of Dianora Niccolini, and I’ve hit the jackpot. This wonderfully talented female photographer has made something of a career out of photographing gorgeous men, and she is considered to be one of the female pioneers of nude male photography. Since 1974 she’s completed 7 one-woman exhibitions of male nudes alone. Her work has also appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines.

A couple of sites have reviewed her work: The Male ‘Seen’ gives a brief look at Dianora and her work, while the commentary at Manstouch credits her with raising the opinion of nude male photography, which had previously been considered merely gay porn.

A few other names turn up – Imogen Cunningham, Diane Arbus… but I’m hard pressed to find any online examples of their nude male photography. Annie Leibovitz has of course done her bit, but I’m danged if I can find any good pics. It seems that female photographers of male nudes are still very thin on the ground (and online copies of their work doubly so).

This means that the majority of artistic nude male photography is still done by men, and a lot of it has a distinctly homoerotic flavour. In art, as elsewhere, the adoring female gaze is still rarely represented.

Here’s hoping that some up-and-coming female photographers out there will make nude men their life’s work.

Posted: Friday 14th January 2005, 11:42 PM

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