WIP 1: “Muse for Realism”

The Nude in Courbet’s The Painters Studio is central to the image, and in turn, lit in a well-rounded manner. Many historians and art critics have coined the model as representing traditionalism in the French Academy. She is also important to the piece as, though it’s not unlikely to see a nude in a studio setting, she is watching Courbet paint with her dress at her feet. During this time, the idealized female figure based on the Venus was highly represented, however in Courbet’s painting, the woman is realistic, leading people to connect her with academic truth and the possibility of a muse.

For my image, I wanted to recreate it in a way that I felt almost uncomfortable with. Not in the sense of nudity, but more in the realm of realism. The nude really intrigues me and though I wasn’t intending on getting nude for this project I wanted to play with the idea of idealized bodies and push myself out of my comfort zone even in small ways.

I don’t love this image, and not because of the technicality of it, but rather because of the insecurities I look at when I view it. Though you can’t see much of my body, as the fabric drapes in front, the pose requires a tilted head, revealing a less-than-ideal angle of the underside of my jaw and chin.

I generally prefer being behind the camera and don’t consider myself the most photogenic, so choosing this figure was important to me so that I could play with the idea of idealism vs realism and pinpoint how this has been an ongoing battle since ancient history.

I didn’t create a sketch for this photo, as I was mainly attempting to recreate Courbet’s original figure work in The Painters Studio.

Technically I think I could’ve been more well-lit overall. My main light source was a window behind me, and though my light was on, the final image has deep shadows in the contours which are not what I was aiming for. This is something I’d like to change for the final group photo.

I also believe that compositionally I need to be closer to the chair, or whatever object we choose to place in front for the group portion of the assignment. Along with this, my pose can be tweaked. I’d like to cheat out towards the lens a little more to open up the figure to the audience. The current pose seems closed off and doesn’t evoke the same feeling as Courbet’s nude.