Vintage Nude Photos On Display In Berlin’s Photography Museum

nude photos
The Museum of Photography in Berlin has just opened an exhibition of nude photos from the turn of the last century.

“The Naked Truth and More Besides Nude Photography around 1900” brings together hundreds of nude photos from an era we normally associate with old-fashioned prudery. In fact, nude photos were incredibly popular at that time. They had existed since the earliest days of the medium, and by the 1880s it was getting much cheaper to reproduce photographs. This led to a boom in the distribution of all photos, nudes included.

Soon nudity could be seen in magazines, advertising, postcards, collectible cards found in cigarette packs and large-format posters. The exhibition looks at a range of different styles and purposes of nudes, ranging from artistic studies to the blatantly pornographic. Rural images and scenes from Classical myths were also popular, as were photos of the nudist movement, which was seeing its first wave of popularity at this time.

%Gallery-187444%The explosion in nudes led to society questioning their traditional assumptions. The marks that corsets left on the flesh made some question whether they should be worn. Homoerotica became more widespread and the first homoerotic magazine, Der Eigene, started in 1896 and published many male nudes.

People who wanted to buy or sell nude photos had to skirt the law. By dubbing the images “for artistic purposes only,” they could claim their interest wasn’t prurient, a bit like how head shops nowadays label bongs “for tobacco use only.” The police did make frequent busts, and one of the largest collections of nude photos from this era is housed at the Police Museum of Lower Saxony, which supplied many of the more risqué photos for this exhibition.

Then as now, there was a continuous debate over what was or was not obscene. Simple nudes were generally considered acceptable, especially if they were artistic studies or images of “primitive” peoples. Surprisingly, images of nude children were also more acceptable than today since they were considered images of innocence. While some child nudes are on display at the museum, none appear in this article.

“The Naked Truth and More Besides Nude Photography around 1900” runs until August 25.

[Photo copyright Heinrich Kühn, copyright Estate of the Artist / Galerie Kicken Berlin]

“Mona Lisa model” to be exhumed

Mona LisaScientists are opening the grave of a nun to see if she was the model for Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

The 16th century tomb of Lisa Gherardini Del Giocondo is being explored in the hopes of finding her skull. With modern facial reconstruction techniques, it’s possible to tell what she looked like, and this will confirm or deny a popular theory that she was the model for the famous painting.

Archaeologists are using subsurface imaging to probe the area under a crypt and staircase they’ve uncovered inside an old convent where the women is presumed to have been buried. They believe that several tombs lie at the bottom of the stairs.

Lisa Gherardini Del Giocondo was the wife of a wealthy merchant and when her husband died she became a nun at the convent of San Orsula in Florence, where she died in 1542. It was common in those days for women to join a convent when they were widowed. One has to wonder what Sister Del Giocondo thought of being the subject of the most talked-about portrait in history.

The Mona Lisa has been argued about for generations. Some researchers say the model was Da Vinci’s gay lover, while others say it’s Da Vinci himself in drag.

The lower tombs will be opened in the next few days. Stayed tuned to see if the team finds Mona Lisa’s celebrated head among the remains.

[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]