For thousands of years, artists have laboured to capture their vision of the perfect human form in their work; after all, when it comes to creating memorable images, few subjects are as aesthetically striking and instantly relatable to the viewer as the human body. From shrink-wrapped couples shots to nude scenes en masse, this selection of shots shows the most innovative interpretations of the body to be photographed in recent years.
California-based photographer Jean-Paul Bourdier’s Bodyscapes collection sees a range of nude human bodies painted to create interesting effects with the natural environments they’re placed in. Some are coloured to contrast with their settings, and others (as pictured), blend in perfectly with the landscape.
Paris-based photographer Julien Palast covered male and female models with a layer of colourful elasticised material for his SkinDeep series, with the aim of exploring the beauty of the human form, creating a sequence of images that are both surreal and oddly beautiful.
Famed for his work with the nude form, NYC photographer Spencer Tunick has shot over 75 different body-centric installations around the world, and has made a name for himself with coordinating major scale nude shoots. In 2007, he shot 18,000 nudes in Mexico City (pictured), and this year, he recreated scenes from Wagner’s opera Der Ring des Nibelungen to open Munich’s opera season.
“One day I found the perfect place where love could reach its peak – in the vacuum-sealed package”, enthuses Japanese artist Photographer Hal. His Flesh Love collection sees a truly bizarre approach to conveying intimacy between couples, by sealing his subjects in vacuum-sealed plastic. It’s enough to take your breath away (or theirs, at the very least).
San Francisco’s Lee Materazzi is a photographer who takes self-portraits in strange and awkward positions. Whether it’s crammed into a Perspex storage box or gripping the underside of a dining room table, each image is created completely from life, without the need for computer trickery (bet you looked twice, didn't you?).
Arthur S. Mole and John D. Thomas
During the period 1915-1920, American photographers Arthur S. Mole and John D. Thomas worked on a series of patriotic portraits for the US military to help gather support for World War One, using nothing but army soldiers and military personnel to create the images. You can see other examples here.
Arno Rafael Minkkinen
Finnish photographer Arno Rafael Minkkinen contrasts the human body with landscapes, integrating body parts into the structure of natural formations like trees and rivers. As with Materazzi’s work, all of Minkkinen’s shots are created without the use of Photoshop, despite the fact that the photos often place the subject in dangerous situations.