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Picturing a World

Zorn’s bathers

As we near Labor Day, Anders Zorn’s bathers are a reminder of summer’s pleasures that will soon be coming to an end. I loved this picture when I was writing about my young artists in Pont Aven. Nudes were basic to academic training in Paris ateliers in the 19th C. Practicing artists did use them in prurient pictures for sales to one kind of buyer; but in the last quarter of the century, there was also a fascination in placing naked people in naturalistic settings. Bathers were the obvious motif. When I sent my women art students out skinny dipping at Pont Aven, I was embodying that recurring subject. This picture gave me a way to visualize them in the landscape and to have them think of themselves in terms of their art. The figures are as much a part of the tonal study as objects to be gazed at. Not all of Zorn’s nudes seem so innocent, but this picture still does and I still love it.

For more of his artwork, click here.

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