The implied nude. Demure and forever discrete, the implied nude is society’s answer to the tasteful nude or what I like to think of as the “hidden nipple dichotomy.”
I could practically hear your eyebrows raise just now. Did he say “nipple”? Everybody knows that we don’t talk about those. I find that ironic, considering everybody’s got them – men, women, children, and most mammals that roam this big beautiful world. Regardless, society (ours anyway) has deemed the nipple taboo in public, unless you’re a dude, a baby or a farm animal. Or… if you’re a government art project or church. There’s your irony.
Nudity is a problem for Americans. It disrupts our social exchange.
— Eric Fischl
LUXE featuring Liz Ashley, 36″ x 48″, acrylic on canvas.
It’s ironic because nipples in and of themselves are harmless and beautiful body parts. And like other body parts, they serve a function… a beautiful nurturing relationship between mother and child and man and woman. Regardless, some might even go as far as suggesting nipples remain forever hidden from public view in both reality and art. But that doesn’t make them taboo – not to me anyway. I am, however, not the governing rule. After all, nipple dichotomy isn’t new and it’s probably not going to change anytime soon. So, in the interim, society yields to G/PG versions referred to as “The Implied Nude” or “Demure Nude”.
Demure or nude? PREMIER, pearl acrylic on canvas, 48″ x 36″.
Implied = the viewer is not sure the model is nude, but it is implied.
Demure = the model is nude but parts are covered i.e. the subject is being demure.
Sometimes less is more. In my ongoing research, it appears that there is a wide variation of the definition of “Implied Nude”. It’s mostly agreed that it means the model is nude but no “private” parts are visible in the photographic image or artwork. So, we’re actually talking about more than nipples here – we’re talking “private parts”, which is often defined differently from one viewer to the next. Either way, the point of an “implied nude” is to show a nude or imply nudity, without showing private parts or nipples (which to some are private parts). For me, that introduces a different element because in many ways implied nudes are actually sexier than full-on nudes. Implied nudes offer a titillating quality that sometimes gets lost in a more straight-forward art nude. Personally, I love a beautifully created implied or demure image as much as a nude. Implied nudes often call the imagination into play and that can be fun.
Naked is a human commodity. Nudity is God’s art.
— David Allio
SOLSTICE featuring Leona. 24″ x 72″, acrylic on canvas.
Sometimes you see the term “demure nude”, which is often confused with “implied nude”, because really, they are similar. “Demure nude” is a beautiful term that means the model is nude but nothing is showing, whereas “implied nude” often gives the appearance and context of being nude, when they may not actually be, like posing a model under a sheet or partly hiding her figure with props or foliage, which sometimes introduces a voyeuristic perspective. In a true implied nude the model could be wearing a bikini and you’d never know it. Nudity is implied by the pose and setting.
Playboy Model Heather Carolyn from our 2007 photo session
and later featured in my metal painting Siren.
The implied nude implies that the model is nude but because of the pose, camera angle, crop, lighting, etc., you can’t conclusively determine from the photo that the model doesn’t have some strips of cloth somewhere. Let your imagination run amuck. We see this all the time. All you have to do is visit the magazine rack at any grocery store or drive by your favorite billboards (in Vegas anyway).
I’ve worked with model Stephanie on a few occasions and she was featured in my painting Mirage.
In the end, I have to wonder if it really matters. Nude, implied nude, demure… these have all been discussed and debated for many millennia. I never understood all the confusion. These terms have been around for a very long time. I honestly don’t put a lot of consideration into the debate regarding my art when creating a new painting. I personally find beauty in the human body, especially the female body – implied, demure, and full-on nude figurative artworks. It’s all beautiful. And that’s what art should be about — beauty. Far too much time is wasted (I believe) in debating such matters, rather than enjoying art for what it is — a celebration of beauty.
Every artist undresses his subject, whether human or still life. It is his business to find essences in surfaces, and what more attractive and challenging surface than the skin around a soul?
— Richard Corliss
OBLIVIOUS, 18″ x 24″, acrylic on canvas – model: Lori
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