the exotic setting and the nude women with their classical poses work together to fool us into believing
that women of this size and age and shape were always a subject in the arts and not just crones in the background.
ff………….Jennette Williams, The Bathers, Duke university Press, 2009.
Many women do not live comfortably in their own skin. They are highly critical of their shape, wobbly bits, orange peel, fullness, skinniness, generous hips, flat chests and so on and on. Self-criticism, sometimes loathing, becomes over the years an ingrained habit. The thought of being photographed naked would, for many women, send them running screaming out the door. In this context, aging simply ramps up the self-disgust.
Then New York based photographer Jennette Williams began to take photograph nude women and her work made us all rethink our relationship with our own bodies. In her 2009 book, The Bathers, Williams uses the texture and grey tones of platinum prints to illuminate the beauty in all women’s naked bodies regardless of shape, age or imperfections. Each photograph is based on poses found in iconic paintings of nude women by Paul Cézanne, Auguste Renoir, Sibylesque Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres and more.
Over an 8 year period, Williams photographed women bathers in Budapest and Istanbul to create these sublime images without ‘sentimentality or objectification’.
Here is Williams in her own words:
Williams was the fourth winner of the biennial CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography. More significantly, Williams has shown us how much our vision of beauty is seen through a window defined by the beauty product industry. We should view her images often to remind ourselves that there is a fragile beauty in honesty, which is diminished daily by grotesque images of advertising fakery.
The Sibyls Salute Jennette Williams
Photo source: Duke University Press Website