Olaf Martens – Sabine I, Nordhausen (1983)

I effing love this. Part of it is the color–that red is to die for and there’s just enough pale magenta at the edge for the frame to de-emphasize the garish tapestry-esque table cloth.

And while everything in the frame–decor, the dark liquor in an ornate rocks glass, the CRT television set–screams 1950′s housewife fetish, I’m more into the sheerness of the material.

The first nude photo session I ever did was almost two decades ago, now. The model was my significant other and she was interested in posing nude but had some reservations about what might happen if the pictures got out into the world.

She had this silk scarf that was enormous and actually more like a shawl that was see through. I suggested that perhaps she use that to cover up if it made her feel more comfortable.

She loved the idea and the pictures ended up being far more revealing that I ever expected them to be. It was as if that thin piece of fabric was like some sort of armor that allowed her to feel empowered and invulnerable.

The pictures weren’t especially good and I’m uncertain whether I still even have them. So much in erotic image making depends on what is shown and what remains hidden. I humbly submit that perhaps what you can see but not completely or clearly is arguably more sexy than either of the aforementioned extremes.


Blue over green fields and a distant siren sings muted rendition of fire engine red—the world’s colors are so effusive sight often spills into sound.

Black and white photography distills the manifest to its base visual elements: “light, line and form.”

Whereas color photography displays the world more-or-less as it appears. Among the keepers of culture, this begged questions as to the inherent art value of color in photography. What criterion could separate mundane snapshots from carefully considered works of art?

William Eggleston was one of the first to breakthrough this impasse. His use of color worked as a logical extension of his compositions and was anything but incidental.

Today, color is viewed as having equal viability with black and white as a medium for fine art photography. And while this allows photographers to focus on one or the other without recriminations, questions about the purpose of color in photography still linger.

You Are Cordially Invited to Piss Off posted this photograph by Ahndraya Parlato, who fuses a contemplative spirit with edgy surrealist hallucinations on sheets of large format film. The results are goddamn breathtaking even if the work is in color not about it.

The preceding image is a stunning exception: a young woman—framed from midriff to mid-shin—lays splayed on a green lawn flecked with autumnal leaves in a wet red dress; clear water pooling in the fabric between her thighs—a doubtless intended visual innuendo.

There are themes of sexuality as potential, the elemental (earth, fire and water) and I am of a mind that there is an auto-biographical element (every dead leaf in the frame appears specifically placed to me). However, it is impossible to dodge the insistence of the color in any conceptual consideration; the red and green complement one another perfectly, the skin tone, a touch sickly as a result of the hyper-stylized color. Stylization masked by echoing the pooled water with colors approximating the heightened saturation after rainfall on overcast days.