Photography and models: histories of the nude

Call for papers, Photographica Issue 6/2023
Deadline to submit articles: June 15, 2023

Traduit de :
Photographie et modèles : le nu et ses histoires



In 1998, the Bibliothèque nationale de France presented, under the direction of Sylvie Aubenas, Sylvianne de Decker, Catherine Mathon and Hélène Pinet, the exhibition “The art of the nude in the 19th century. The photographer and his model.” Across some 300 items, the exhibition and its catalog – which would become a major reference – traced the complex and diverse histories of nude photography in its first century of existence. By looking at this history through the lens of artists’ studios, the curatorial team shed new light on the complexity of the subject, nude photography, which from the earliest days of the daguerreotype has held an ambiguous position amid iconographic genres. Ranging from the more academically oriented nudes for artists to erotic and pornographic photography, from the standardization of poses to the search for new markets, nude photography has always represented a complex practice: It reveals experimental processes between photographers and artists, exchanges and itineraries between studios, ambitious commercial ventures (see Émile Bayard’s Aesthetic Nude in 1905) and bodies of work that were as fascinating as they were enigmatic (see the album by Charles-François Jeandel or the François-Rupert Carabin collection).

Yet, beyond the scope of the studio, nude photography – like ethnographic or colonial photography with which it shares many problematic aspects, notably the often-violent domination of the body – is an iconography that allows us to understand the commodification of the naked body – female and male – from early on, and its transformation into a commodity. The implications of this idea in the history of European photography were explored in the 1980s and 1990s, notably by American historians, be it from a theoretical perspective (see Solomon-Godeau, 1991) or through production and censorship (see McCauley, 1994, and specifically chapter 4 “Braquehais and the Photographic Nude”; see also History of Photography vol. 18, no. 1, Spring 1994, edited by James Crump). However, more recently, these questions have received little scholarly attention.

If the history of pornographic photography in the nineteenth century was articulated via artists’ models, the emergence of porn studies in the 1980s generated only marginal comment on these objects (Braudy, 1997; Fleisher, 2000), and inquiries into their participation in the visual imaginary of prostitution (Rexer, 2021) or circulation are even scarcer. In gender studies, the question has focused, on the one hand, on the representation of the female body, especially the media treatment of femininity (Geers, 2016) and, on the other hand, on that of women photographers (see notably the exhibition Who’s afraid of women photographers? 2016). More recently, a third strand, based on the individual experiences of models, has called for a rethinking of the model as a co-producer of images and as a person with their own name, identity, and history (see exhibition The Black Model, 2019, and Schopp, 2018). While film studies have produced a broad reflection on the male gaze across the cultural industries, photographic scholarship still struggles to reconsider this difficult-to-watch and yet massive corpus (Arrouye and Guérin, 2013); similarly, entire sections of the iconographic production of some artists of the nineteenth (Fantin-Latour collection) and twentieth centuries embody these complexities (Balthus collection).

The sixth issue of the journal Photographica aims to explore the question of the nude model in photography. Following Wendy Grossman’s study of the model Adrienne Fidelin (published in Photographica no. 2 (April 2021) in a study that is both deconstructivist and analytical of the uses of the medium) and building on a reflection on the very genre of nude photography – both female and male – this new issue of Photographica (April 2023) seeks to question the role of the model in the history of photography:

How can we consider and look at this historically massive part of photographic production today, and to what extent can it represent a subject of study? What does the object “nude photography” reveal with regard to processes of normalization, domination, and production in the history of photography? How does this photographic form influence its circulation and lead to new modes of distribution? What is a model in photography and how can the history of photography deal with this subject?

Based on these questions, several themes may be explored:

  • an ethnographic perspective: the production of nude photographs in a given period and/or geographic framework

  • the historical evolution of norms and repression, with regard to obscenity and nude photography

  • the historicization, normalization, and codification of the model: the model as model

  • the circulation of photographic “models” (magazines, publications)

  • nude photography as an economic and industrial sector and its diverse supports (ephemeral documents, periodicals, books, prints, postcards, ...)

  • itineraries of people posing as nude models in photographers’ and painters’ studios

  • the historicization of the relationship between nude models and photographers in the context of the shooting


Submission deadline: June 15, 2022

Committee response date: July 15 2022 (including guidelines for possible corrections if the proposal is selected)

Publication in Photographica No. 6: Spring 2023


Articles should be submitted in French or English.

They should not exceed 30,000 characters (spaces and notes included).

They should also be anonymised.

Co-authored articles are welcome.

Suggested illustrations (15 max.) with captions and credits can be joined. Article submissions will be evaluated in double-blind peer-review. They may be accepted, accepted with modifications, or refused.

In a separate document, please include name, e-mail address, position, and institutional affiliation (university, research unit), along with a list of publications for the author(s).

Submissions should be sent to: redaction[at]photographica-revue[dot]fr

For further questions / inquiries, please contact: contact[at]photographica-revue[dot]fr


Arrouye, Jean et Guérin, Michel (dir.), Le photographiable. Aix-en-Provence : Presses universitaires de Provence, coll. « Arts », 2013.

Aubenas, Sylvie, De Decker, Sylviane et alii (dir.), L’art du nu au XIXsiècle. Le photographe et son modèle, cat. exp. (Paris, BnF, 14 oct. 1997-18 janv. 1998). Paris : Hazan/Bibliothèque nationale de France, 1997.

Bertolotti, Alessandro, Livres de nus, trad. de Denis-Armand Canal, avant-propos de Jean-Claude Lemagny, cat exp. (« Livres de nus, une anthologie 1895-2002 », Paris, Maison Européenne de la photographie, 10 juil. 2007-6 janv. 2008). Paris : La Martinière/MEP, 2007.

Braudy, Patrick, La pornographie et ses images. Paris : Armand Colin, 1997.

Crump, James (dir.), History of Photography, vol. 18, no 1, printemps 1994.

Dufour, Annie (dir.), Le modèle noir. De Géricault à Matisse, cat. exp. (Paris, musée d’Orsay, 26 mars-21 juillet 2019). Paris : Flammarion/musée d’Orsay, 2019.

Fleischer, Alain, La Pornographie, une idée fixe de la photographie. Paris : la Musardine, 2000.

Foliard, Daniel, Combattre, punir, photographier. Empires coloniaux, 1890-1914. Paris : La Découverte, coll. « SH / histoire-monde », 2020.

Geers, Alexie, « D’un corps de classe à un corps de genre. Les stars, modèles de féminité dans Marie-Claire », Études photographiques [en ligne], no 32, 2015, p. 4-19, mis en ligne le 16 juillet 2015, consulté le 20 février 2022. URL :

Grossman, Wendy A., « Entre l’appareil et la toile », Photographica [en ligne], no 2, 2021, mis en ligne le 03 mai 2021, consulté le 20 février 2022. URL :

Lecaplain, Manon, « La revue du nu, reflet de la France fin-de-siècle », La Revue des revues, vol. 65, no 1, 2021.

McCauley, Elizabeth Anne, Industrial Madness. Commercial Photography in Paris 1848-1871. New Haven (CT) and London : Yale University Press, 1994.

Mulvey, Laura, Au-delà du plaisir visuel. Féminisme, énigmes, cinéphilie. Paris : Éditions Mimésis, 2017.

Rexer, Raisa, The Fallen Veil. A Literary and Cultural History of the Photographic Nude in Nineteenth-Century France. Philadelphia (PA) : University of Pennsylvania Press, 2021.

Robert, Marie et Galifot Thomas, Qui a peur des femmes photographes ?, cat. exp. (Paris, musée d’Orsay, 14 oct. 2015-24 janv. 2016). Paris : Hazan/Musée d’Orsay, 2015.

Schopp, Claude, L’origine du monde. Vie du modèle. Paris : Phébus, 2018.

Solomon-Godeau, Abigail, Photography After Photography : Gender, Genre, History. Durham (NC) : Duke University Press, 2017.

Solomon-Godeau, Abigail, Photography at the dock. Essays on Photographic History, Institutions, and Practices. Minneapolis (MN) : University of Minnesota Press, 1991.

Tachou, Frédéric, Et le sexe entra dans la modernité. Photographie obscène et cinéma pornographique primitif, aux origines d’une industrie. Paris : Klinscksieck, 2013.

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Référence électronique

« Photography and models: histories of the nude », Photographica [En ligne], Appels en cours, mis en ligne le 04 mars 2022, consulté le 01 octobre 2022. URL :