The spiked silhouette of palm fronds clothe most of the figure of a woman in shadow. The pattern across the classic black and white nude draws the eye before the subtler lines of the body. This gives the feeling of a nude female body simultaneously revealed and concealed. This veiled eroticism is for the cultivated eye, but not the timid. Classic black and white nude photography has a long tradition of using shadows to accentuate or obscure the shapes of the body. This composition seeks both objectives. An exposed arm and thigh lead the eye into the camouflaged figure. The striped pattern wrapping torso is reminiscent of animal markings such as a zebra or tiger. The center of the body bears a shadow pattern that echoes the vertebrae of a spine, approximately bisecting the figure. The shapes, lines, and textures tell a story of contrast.
The body is horizontal, approximately through the center of the composition. Square stone tiles form grid lines, framed by diagonal patches of darkness in the corners. The shadows in the upper corners imply a triangle with the shadow that runs through the body serving as the third side. The bottom border of shadows runs more or less horizontally, repeating the direction of the body.
The classic black and white nude draws the viewer’s attention to the abstract composition. Heavy shadow defines her right side and thigh. Her face is obscured, as is much of her body, making her somewhat anonymous. The pattern of shadow across her body disrupts half of her contours.
Close to monochromatic, the image is not pure black and white. Subtle cool tones of purple punctuate the shadows and warmer accents are in the highlights. Although color may be able to seduce a wider audience, the lover of black and white nude photography has an appreciation that runs deep.
Photographed on Harbour Island, The Bahamas. This image was curated by the Photo Editor of Vogue Italia for the Photovogue showcase. It has been a favorite of creative and analytical people alike, in the collections of a filmmaker, a bank CEO, a designer, and a photographer. This image is in collections in Hollywood CA, Boston MA, South Carolina, and Jordan.
Perhaps you prefer colorful nude art or to see more art nudes in black and white?