VISUAL PLEASURE AND NUDIE PICS; LAURA MULVEY
The idea of 'the male gaze' in the essay I have linked to below - I read as basically that throughout time the main purpose of the nude is to perpetuate the dominant social order. Mulvey also talks about scopophilia: looking itself as a source of pleasure. (Read: boner city!)
Perhaps as artists we wouldn't want to rehash this same old story, or participate in the objectification and exploitation of others - and maybe, if so, whatever value the 'nude' has in terms of inherent beauty, is worthless relative to it's power as an instrument of oppression.
Everything's subjective of course. If we were really able to be objective about it we might see that all humans are actually nasty monkeys and we just like nude pictures for the normal reasons. (Boner city!). For me, Weston's work is a good example of this; his peppers and seashells are sexier and better looking than his nudes, which aren't hard on the eyes either. There's nothing wrong with visual pleasure exactly, it's just a little problematic as art nowadays. Anyway, this essay is the last word on the subject as far as I am concerned, and every nude shooter should definitely read it, at least to get an idea of the argument. It's a little intimidating/academic looking, but it's actually an easy read - I promise.
Replace or imagine 'cinema' as 'photography' as needed in the essay below.
VISUAL PLEASURE AND NARRATIVE CINEMA - Laura Mulvey
Link to essay: