Monday, December 31, 2012

Raw, Naked Courage

I frequently pass by a small artist studio on the Rue de Bievre in the 5th arrondissement. Lately a sign has been hanging in the window asking for nude models. As an experience junkie, I think this is certainly something I should try. First of all, I am in Paris, one of the world's great art centers; secondly, I am not particularly modest (I've done way too much theater with backstage quick-changes); thirdly, I seriously enjoy shocking my husband and mother, which gets more and more difficult to do since this is a known personality quirk of mine. Still, despite limited modesty or shame, I admit it does sound a bit embarrassing to stand there in my starkers while somebody eyes me critically for a drawing. So it takes me a few days to work up my courage to call the artist, both because I'm volunteering to be painted/drawn nude and also because I will have to have a conversation in French, over the phone, about a subject matter I've never tackled before.

I need not have worried, as the only question he asks me is "How old are you?" and when I tell him 44, he simply replies, "My models are younger," and that's that. So my short-lived career as an artist's nude model ends as it starts, fully clothed in my apartment.

I'm wondering if I should argue the point with the artist, since I think I am in better shape now than I ever was 20 years ago. (For all I know, he's aiming for something Rubenesque, and I'm too fit.) In the end, I just tell him I understand and hang up. "Standing Female Nude, 1910" by Pablo Picasso and "Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2" by Marcel Duchamp show me why it might be important sometimes to have a young, nubile model.


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