Past Masters of the Nude Jay W. King

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99 pages


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Past Masters of the Nude  by  Jay W. King

Past Masters of the Nude by Jay W. King
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Look Inside this book and you will immediately see that it is not a collection of photographs of the nude. Instead, it is precisely what it says in the subtitle: it’s an annotated bibliography of photographic books published in England between 1896MoreLook Inside this book and you will immediately see that it is not a collection of photographs of the nude. Instead, it is precisely what it says in the subtitle: it’s an annotated bibliography of photographic books published in England between 1896 and 1960.The kind of books listed here are themselves collections of photographs of the nude – mainly but not exclusively the female nude.

The books listed are all the hardback books of this type which were published in England in roughly the first half of the twentieth century. Full bibliographical details are given of each one, together with a description of the contents.What makes these books interesting is that, throughout the period covered, publication of nude photographs was a hazardous business.

Public prudery, and the law of obscenity, made life difficult for both photographers and publishers.In a scholarly introduction and in a postscript, Jay W. King provides a fascinating account of the profound changes in the attitudes towards nudity and sexuality which occurred in England the first sixty years of the twentieth century.

He provides a particularly telling account of the official anguish over the display of pubic hair. Until the 1960s, every magazine or book which published a nude photograph was obliged to ensure that not even a wisp of pubic hair was visible- at one time there were no less than 30 civil servants devoted to checking that this law was observed.

‘Past Masters of the Nude’ concludes with an account of how this absurd attitude was eventually challenged by Roye, a leading photographer of the time.Pamela Green, who was the most famous photographers’ model of the 1950s (and had a whole book devoted to her by Harrison Marks), says this: ‘I found this book interesting, informative, and, for once, correct! So many publications on this subject are inaccurate.

I enjoyed reading about the many photographers that I used to work with.’This is the second, revised, edition of a book first published in trade-paperback format in 2005. It is a bibliography which will be particularly useful to book collectors, dealers, librarians, and historians.



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