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]

Nudists Cause Controversy On Welsh Beach

nudistsCefn Sidan beach in Pembrey, Wales, is the latest flashpoint in an ongoing controversy over nudists in the UK.

The local government says it has received numerous complaints about bathers baring all at the eight-mile-long beach. The spot is a favorite for families and attracts more than a million visitors a year, most of who wear bathing suits. There have been complaints about nudists “approaching” non-nudists, and also reports of inappropriate behavior.

The local government has put up signs forbidding nudity and threatens to prosecute violators. However, nudist organizations have pointed out that being naked in public is not illegal in the UK and that the local council’s ruling is thus illegal.

Nudism is a legal gray area in the UK. While simply getting naked isn’t a criminal offense, nudists have been prosecuted for using their nudity “to harass, alarm or distress others.” This rule is vague enough to be applied to a wide range of cases and of course depends on the sensitivity of the person making the complaint.

Nudism seems to cause controversy every year in the UK. One nudist hiker in Scotland has been jailed repeatedly, with his latest sentence being for 21 months. A nudist B&B in Staffordshire, England, has caused many neighbors to complain.

What do you think of nudism in public places? Should it be allowed? Would you go to a nude beach? Tell us what you think in the comments section!

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons. This photo actually shows Haulover Beach, an official nudist beach in Florida.

Enjoy nudist hiking? Rethink that holiday in Switzerland

nudist hikingLast year we reported on a major victory for nudist hiking in Switzerland. A hiker in the conservative Swiss canton of Appenzell got fined for baring all, appealed, and won.

Now that victory has turned into defeat. The BBC reports that Switzerland’s highest court has ruled that local authorities can fine people for hiking in the buff. Naked hiking isn’t illegal per se, but but public indecency is, and if the local authorities decide naked hiking is indecent, well, then you can’t do it. And since this came from the nation’s highest court, it applies to all of Switzerland.

The court stated its ruling was only a “marginal” infringement on personal liberty. Much more marginal than, say, forbidding women to vote, which is what Appenzell did until 1990. This makes me the local authorities aren’t so much concerned with individual rights as they are with a buttoned-up conservatism.

But individual rights are an issue here. In a truly free country, shouldn’t a person have the right to get an all-body tan while hiking? In a truly free country, shouldn’t people who are offended by the sight of naked strangers be able to have a picnic in peace?

Tricky.

Photo courtesy Alain Tanguy.

Naked hiker jailed for 21 months

naked hiker, nudismNudist activist Steven Gough has been given 657 days in a Scottish prison only a minute after finishing his previous sentence.

The BBC reports that the naked hiker has served numerous terms in jail for public nudity and appearing in court nude. He insists it’s his right to bare all wherever and whenever he wants. His refusal to wear clothes has led to an epic fight with the legal system in which neither side will back down. Every time he’s released from prison in Perth, Scotland, he walks out naked, straight into the arms of waiting policemen. Gough has spent much of the past ten years behind bars.

Gough once walked from Land’s End to John O’Groats in the nude. That’s the longest hike in the British Isles, going from the southwest to northeast tips, a distance of about 1,200 miles.

As an avid hiker and a big fan of Scotland’s and England’s trails, I have to say I’m impressed by anyone who has done this route, with or without clothes. Hiking in the nude is a legal gray area in the UK. Gough is generally arrested for disturbing the peace or contempt of court. While personally I don’t want to see Gough’s man berries while enjoying a view of the Highlands, I have to ask just who is he hurting? At a time when many thugs from the recent riots are getting lighter sentences, the persecution of Steven Gough seems a spiteful response from a legal system that doesn’t like to be laughed at.

[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons. The man pictured is not Steven Gough.]

Nudist cruise to Croatia ready to go!

There are only 22 spaces available for a unique eWaterways cruise. The best part of the fun offering from his London tour operator is that you won’t have to pack much: the catch is that its central theme is nudity. Hope you get a ticket with 21 other hotties, and dash off for seven days of feeling the sun and breeze against your entire body. As you explore the Croatian coastline, make some time to enjoy the scenery onboard, too.

The first cruise will hit the seas in August 2011 at a price of £500. eWaterways says it’s the first company to offer a nudist cruise in the Adriatic. According to the Sydney Morning Herald:

“Naturist holidays are popular and Croatia has a lot of nudist beaches – so it’s a great match,” said a spokeswoman. “Passengers will get undressed for swimming and sunbathing, but will be clothed for dinner.”

Smart move: buy two tickets instead of one, and stack the deck in your favor. I already have my short list in place!