The Art Model as Performer

  • Aurélie Debaene University of Kent
Keywords: performance, art model, art practice, hybrid art, proprioception, improvisation, style, creativity, skill, performativity, fashion model, life model

Abstract

In this paper, I argue that modelling occupies a curious role in the art making process, and that it constitutes a hybrid art form. Modelling is intriguingly under-research in aesthetics, despite it being a cornerstone of art education and deeply involved in various art practices. It functions both within a supportive role to further the goals of art making, while also retaining the creative agency and performance of the professional model upon which the artist, photographer, or wider crew rely. This ability entails not merely helping to steer a posing session, but experimenting with and adapting to any unexpected issues that arise in the course of the session. To understand the salient performative qualities of modelling, I first focus on expert movement, improvisation, and style. Second, I reflect on how modelling corresponds to creativity and skill. Finally, I propose that the model is a performer, and that, ultimately, modelling should be recognised as a hybrid collaborative art form which incorporates qualities of various performing arts.

References

Armstrong, Mark. 2012. “The Quentin Kind: Visual Narrative and The Naked Civil Servant.” Ph.D. diss., University of Northumbria.

Baxandall, Michael. 1987. Patterns of Intention: On the Historical Explanation of Pictures. Yale University Press.

Beecher, Fra. 2020, aug. Working From Home: Perspectives of a Life Model. https://theeverydaymagazine.co.uk/opinion/workingfrom-home-perspectives-of-a-life-model. Last Accessed December 15, 2021.

Berk Jimenez, Jill, and Joanna Banham. 2013. Dictionary of Artists’ Models. Routledge.

Bignamini, Ilaria, and Martin Postle. 1991. The Artist’s Model: Its Role in British Art from Lely to Etty. University of Nottingham Press.

Borzello, Frances. 1982. The Artist’s Model. Junction Books.

Bresnahan, Aili. 2015. “Improvisation in the Arts.” Philosophy Compass 10 (9): 573–582.

Bruni Lopez y Rojo, Alessandra. 2015. “Modeling as an Older Woman: Exploitation or Subversion?” Age, Culture, Humanities 2:295–308.

Bullen, J. B. 1998. The Pre-Raphaelite Body: Fear and Desire in Painting, Poetry, and Criticism. Clarendon Press.

Commission, Federal Trade. 2021, mar. Look out for modelling scams. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0071-look-outmodeling-scams#scams. Last Accessed December 15, 2021.

Crawford, Cindy, and O’Leary Katherine. 2015. Becoming. Rizzoli International Publications.

Cray, Wesley. 2019. “Transparent and Opaque Performance Personas.” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 77 (1): 181–191.

Crisp, Quentin. 1968. The Naked Civil Servant. Jonathan Cape Ltd.

Davies, David. 2004. Art as Performance. MA: Blackwell.

Debaene, Aurélie J. 2019. “Posing Skill: The Art Model as Creative Agent.” Edited by Connell Vaughan and Iris Vidmar Jovanović, Proceedings of the European Society for Aesthetics, Volume 11. 214–231.

—— 2021. “The Truthful Portrait: Can Posing Be a Tool for Authenticity in Portraiture?” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 79 (4): 440–451.

Desmarais, Jane, Martin Postle, and William Vaughan. 2006. Model and Supermodel: The Artist’s Model in British Art and Culture. Manchester University Press.

Entwistle, Joanne. 2000. The Fashioned Body: Fashion, Dress and Modern Social Theory. Polity Press.

—— 2009. The Aesthetic Economy of Fashion: Markets and Value in Clothing and Modelling. Berg Publishers.

Entwistle, Joanne, and Elizabeth Wilson. 2001. Body Dressing. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Fraleigh, Sondra. 1987. Dance and the Lived Body. University of Pittsburgh Press.

Fridland, Ellen. 2014. “They’ve Lost Control: Reflections on Skill.” Synthese 191 (12): 2729–2750.

Gaut, Berys. 2009. “Creativity and Skill.” In The Idea of Creativity, edited by Michael Krausz, Dennis Dutton, and Karen Bardsley, 83–103. Brill.

—— 2018. “The Value of Creativity.” In Creativity and Philosophy, edited by Berys Gaut and Matthew Kieran, 124–139. Routledge.

Gedo, Mary Mathews. 2010. Monet and His Muse: Camille Monet in the Artist’s Life. University of Chicago Press.

Hamilton, James R. 2010. “What Do Actors Do?” In Ethical Encounters: Boundaries of Theatre, Performance and Philosophy, edited by Daniel Meyer-Dinkgräfe and Daniel Watt, 6–22. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Heyward, Anne. 2016, sep. The Opposite of a Muse. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/theopposite-of-a-muse. Last Accessed December 15, 2021.

Hobhouse, Janet. 1988. The Bride Stripped Bare: Artist and Nude in the Twentieth Century. Jonathan Cape Ltd.

Jonze, Tim. 2019, aug. ‘I love staring at one spot for six hours!’ Life models on the secrets of disrobing. www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/aug/14/life-modelson-the-secrets-of-disrobing. Last Accessed December 15, 2021.

Lathers, Marie. 2001. Bodies of Art: French Literary Realism and the Artist’s Model. University of Nebraska Press.

Levinson, Jerrold. 1984. “Hybrid Art Forms.” Journal of Aesthetic Education 18 (4): 5–13.

Mears, Ashley. 2011. Pricing Beauty: The Making of a Fashion Model. University of California Press.

Montero, Barbara. 2016. “The Pleasure of Movement and the Awareness of the Self.” In Thought in Action: Expertise and the Conscious Mind. Oxford University Press.

Moss, Kate, and Fabien Baron. 2012. The Kate Moss Book. Rizzoli International Publications.

Nead, Lynda. 1992. The Female Nude: Art, Obscenity and Sexuality. Routledge.

Oliver, Lois. 2001. “Bodies of Work: Models as Artists.” In Dictionary of Artists’ Models, edited by Jill Berk Jimenez and Joanna Banham. Routledge.

Sheets-Johnstone, Maxine. 1981. “Thinking in Movement.” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 39 (4): 399–407.

Shusterman, Richard. 2008. Body Consciousness. Cambridge University Press.

—— 2012. “Photography as Performative Process.” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 70 (1): 67–78.

Sirridge, Mary, and Adina Armelagos. 1977. “The In’s and Out’s of Dance: Expression as an Aspect of Style.” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 36 (1): 15–24.

Spaid, Sue. 2019. “To Be Performed.” Edited by Connell Vaughan and Iris Vidmar Jovanović, Proceedings of the European Society for Aesthetics, Volume 11. 700–727.

Swain, Kelly. 2016. The Naked Muse. Valley Press. Takahashi, Lisa. 2018, jul. Life Model Dominic Blake on the other side of the canvas. https://www.jacksonsart.com/blog/2018/07/10/dominic-blakelife-model-side-canvas. Last Accessed December 15, 2021.

Tarbox, Wilson. 2016, feb. Paris’ Art Models Protest for Job Security and Better Wages. https://hyperallergic.com/277487/pariss-artmodels-protest-for-job-security-and-better-wages/. Last Accessed December 15, 2021.

Waller, Susan. 2006. The Invention of the Model: Artists and Models in Paris, 1830-1870. Ashgate.

Wek, Alek. 2008. My Life from Sudanese Refugee to International Supermodel. Amistad Press.

Wissinger, Elizabeth. 2010. “The Top Model Life.” Contexts 9 (2): 75–77.

—— 2012. “Managing the Semiotics of Skin Tone: Race and Aesthetic Labor in the Fashion Modeling Industry.” Economic and Industrial Democracy 33 (1): 125–143.

—— 2015. This Year’s Model: Fashion, Media, and the Making of Glamour. New York University Press.

Zamir, Tzachi. 2014. Acts: Theater, Philosophy, and the Performing Self. University of Michigan Press.

Published
2021-12-30