Natural Beauty: The Classic Male Nude
This is a wonderful book for anyone who is interested in the aesthetic state of male physique photography in the early 21st century. It’s also a great coffee table book for anyone who likes to leaf through a varied and fascinating collection of ungodly gorgeous men.
Nearly all of them, as the title implies, are naked. Two of the photographers have semi-clothed their models, but the rest are only in a blessed state of nature.
And what a blessed state it is! Each of the photographers has gathered the hottest models in his own territory. That includes two Russians, as well as London, Singapore, Italy and points beyond, as well as well-known Amerricans.
Perhaps the best-known photographer in this collection is Christopher Makos, who studied under the legendary surrealist Man Ray and was a colleague of Andy Warhol’s. Makos’ photos are studies as much as appreciations of the male physique; but then, that could be applied to several of the photographers here.
In fact, the male body, while the center of every image, often becomes a part of the landscape or even an accent on the surroundings. The overall effect of leafing through this fantastic book is one of deep appreciation for the way some men can use what nature gave them to mold themselves into living, breathing works of art -- and the varied ways in which creative photographers use them as a canvas.
London-based Dylan Rosser’s models adhere more closely to the all-American type made popular by several porn sites. His photos highlight the definition on his models. Their clean-cut good looks contrast nicely with the erotic postures and come-hither looks.
Sleek & Sexy
Even more than Rosser, Kevin McDerrmott’s models are athletic. These are men who don’t just lift weights and diet. They move.
Nowhere is that angularity and kinetic strength more at work than in this beautifully composed photo of a man scaling a ladder with the iconic Empire State Building behind him. The ladder appears to be attached to no structure, while the mega-skyscraper and lack of other buildings in the frame imply that he is high above the Manhattan skyline.
The photo’s composition emphasizes the model’s lean muscularity by paralleling him with the ladder and the building’s spire. And the boots are simply hot!
Using Everyday Objects
Singapore-based Markus Mok uses everyday objects and makes them part of his models’ identity. In doing so, he objectifies and eroticizes things like palm fronds, a crystal lamp and twigs. The phallic imagery here is much more aesthetic than sexual (and certainly not pornographic). Mok also uses light and shade beautifully: the chiaroscuro of a modern-day Caravaggio.
Rome-based Robert Chiovitti is notable in using a few hairy models, which stand out amidst the more usual hairless ones. This, plus Chiovittti’s dark palette and posing, give his models an air of danger.
Blond & Beautiful
Sandro Bross stands out for his use of blonds, which is perfectly fine with me!
At this point, mention should be made that there is no frontal nudity anywhere in this book. I find this refreshing. Aside from the fact that it makes much more presentable in general, it also leaves something for the imagination. And where there is frontal nudity, the eye naturally gravitates to the pubic area. So here you are free to roam all over the models’ beautiful bodies (including their sculpted backsides).
Hardcover with dust jacket, 160 pages
Bruno Gmünder Publishers