You've seen them in nearly every art museum across the nation. Picasso, Matisse, Velazquez and innumerable others have all done them. Nude paintings. And here, at Harvard, young artists at the Carpenter Center are doing them.
Sam A. Clark '03 was enrolled in VES 20aar: "Painting with Attitude" last semester, and as part of the course, he painted three pictures featuring two different nude models. They're not always completely nude, though. "The first painting had the woman as a part of a still life, pretending to eat chicken and grapes, and drink brandy," Sam says. "She had her shirt open, but that was the extent of it." The second model, who was completely in the buff, "sat at a desk reading, smoking, and drinking gin."
The nude models are not Harvard students. In fact, they are professionals, and Harvard treats them pretty well. Nude models are surrounded by portable heaters during their three-hour sessions, and they are allowed regular breaks to stretch and keep limber. Of the two models for "Painting with Attitude," the first was a woman in her mid 40s, the second in her 20s. The course never hired male nudes as their relative scarcity makes them too expensive.
The class' dozen students take their painting of nudes very seriously. "You don't get turned on, you study the form of the body," Sam explains. Moreover, the artist must decide how to express the human body, whether it be in the spirit of sensuality or of revulsion. For Sam's third painting, he gave the woman a pirate character.
Unfortunately some of the class' nude model paintings may have been painted over by now. Budding artists and desperate flesh-mongers need not worry, however, as the VES department features nudes in a variety of painting and drawing classes.