fbpx

AfterManRay

© Chuck Samuels, “After ManRay,” 1990, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City

AfterOuterbridge

© Chuck Samuels, “After Outerbridge,” 1990, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City

For Before the Camera, Montréal-based photographer Chuck Samuels confronts the objectification of the female body by casting himself as the heroine of history’s most recognizable nude portraits. For each, he surrendered himself entirely to the gaze of others—much like the original nudes would have— handing off the responsibility of directing and snapping the photos to various friends, most of whom were women.

For each of the twelve images, now on view at ClampArt, Samuels carefully reproduced the original photo, right down to the size and presentation of the prints themselves. The idea came about while the artist was an MFA student in the 1980s, during which time he read seminal feminist texts on the male gaze. He chose the original photos based on those that had ingrained themselves most deeply in his memory, and prior to reproducing them, he spent time researching the techniques used by each artist. Perhaps unsurprisingly, these familiar images are in many cases those that have helped establish the ways in which we consume the female body; here, the male body looks precarious and out-of-place, even when every detail is executed meticulously.

One of the most memorable aspects of the experience, says Samuels, was just how uncomfortable some of these poses were to hold. Mostly, it was just a matter of playing a role. As he seamlessly adopts the part of Man Ray’s Kiki (from Le Violon d’Ingres) and E. J. Bellocq’s anonymous Storyville sex worker, Samuels walks the tight rope between the absurd and the unsettling. Of course the images are humorous, but they also probe at the edges of something darker and more sinister about the ways in which the photograph has depicted—and perhaps misused— womankind. In the end, says Samuels, it came down to being “reverently irreverent.”

Before the Camera is on view at ClampArt until March 28, 2015. For more nude photograph recreations, check out Artsy Nudes by the photography students at New York City’s School of Visual Arts.

AfterNewton

© Chuck Samuels, “After Newton,” 1991, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City

AfterWeston

© Chuck Samuels, “After Weston,” 1991, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City

AfterBullock

© Chuck Samuels, “After Bullock,” 1991, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City

AfterCallahan

© Chuck Samuels, “After Callahan,” 1990, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City

Samuels_01

© Chuck Samuels, “After Bellocq,” 1991, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City

Samuels

© Chuck Samuels, “After Mapplethorpe,” 1990, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City

AfterAvedon

© Chuck Samuels, “After Avedon,” 1991, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City

Discover More

Give a Print
Receive a Print
Receive a print