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Angelo Musco in London

21 October 2013

Anyone who thinks there’s nothing original left to be done with images of the human nude needs to thinks again. Only in the past year for example, have I discovered the astonishing works of Angelo Musco, and been captivated by his unique visions on a colossal yet minutely detailed scale.

Angelo’s is an art of genuine beauty; conception through substitution, creation through composition. He has taken inspiration from nature’s most wonderful phenomena: long chain molecules; fine plant tissues; spiralling shoals of fish; complex bird nests; the tunnel webs of spiders. Stripping away their substance, he rebuilds with thousands of photographed nude bodies.

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© Angelo Musco 2012, all rights reserved, angelomusco.com

His works have been widely celebrated, including a feature in Time magazine, yet until now he had never worked outside the United States. This Saturday, however, he assembled 40-50 volunteers, four assistants and a fellow photographer at Sunbeam Studios in London for a special five-hour shoot. I was privileged to be a part of it.

Our catalyst was fellow model and nude performance specialist, Peter Jacobs, with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working numerous times. It was Peter who made initial contact with Angelo and put in a huge amount of work to round up participants on both sides of the camera.

Cometh the day I was surprised quite how many people I knew from previous projects: my fellow Mudheads, Chas, Cy and the two Peters; Adrian, Carol, Gil and John from Existere; Howard and Karen, Lisa, Richard, Rob, Martin and Yvonne from Ghostbird; Camila from Does My…Do I?; and fellow life models Chris, Chris, Hope, Ian, Robert, Sabine and Sharon. An extraordinary gathering of the tribes.

After some introductory words from Angelo and his team, we undressed and entered the all-white space of the studio. Angelo and his fellow photographer Pau Ros would be capturing images from a balcony running the length of one wall.

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Tim does the introductions

We worked right through from 11am till around 3pm before taking a break. Angelo and Pau then reviewed their images, after which we resumed for a final session taking us to a 4pm finish. In that time:

  • we stood en masse, backs to the photographers, pointing upwards in different layered rows and configurations;
  • we lay on the floor in arches of three people at a time, with two ‘supports’ face up, then down, then sideways, and the arching person swapping directions;
  • we formed larger arches of five people, using two for each support with the same variations as above;
  • we connected in rows of three people, legs across shoulders, arms to legs;
  • we extended in longer rows as tramlines that reached the length of the studio;
  • we curled on the floor in clusters of four, tightly entwined to eliminate white space between our bodies;
  • we amassed in one vast cluster, turning two or three times and reaching arms out in different directions, onto who or what, it was sometimes hard to tell;
  • and we stood again in close rectangles facing forwards and away, looking ahead or reaching up.

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© Angelo Musco 2013, all rights reserved, angelomusco.com

All the while Angelo’s assistants were adjusting our positions, straightening our lines or smoothing curves. The poses were generally quite simple but on the cold hard floor of the studio they weren’t always tremendously comfortable.

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© Angelo Musco 2013, all rights reserved, angelomusco.com

Our reward – aside from enjoying a superb day in the excellent company of friends – was a small print from a previous masterpiece (‘Eyrie’), signed by the master himself. Indeed, we were shown kindness and respect throughout.

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© Angelo Musco 2013, all rights reserved, angelomusco.com

Angelo descended from his balcony at the end of the day, offered his thanks and took time to pose for countless individual souvenir photos with models. He is definitely one of the nice guys to work for.

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With the lad himself

After the event, back in our clothes, many of us wandered towards Portobello Road to wind down with some food and drink.

As our unlikely group sat among the trendy young things at the heart of the famous market, I wondered if they could imagine us as the heaving heap of naked humanity that we’d been just hours before… or if one day they may marvel at the breathtaking artworks that we would become in the months ahead.

After millennia of the nude in art, the natural body can still surprise and inspire.

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From → Art

3 Comments
  1. Reblogged this on Everyday LifeModel and commented:
    Nicely written Steve! It was great to work with you again, and to have so many other friends there too.

  2. Much to weird for me..Shades of the death camps look to me, so would never be able to enjoy this sort of art. but every one to its own !

    • The Marauding Middle Aged Model permalink

      Interestingly, my initial reaction to the mass bodies picture was ‘Auschwitz!’ which somewhat troubled me for several reasons as (i) I had wanted to take part in this installation but was unable to (ii) I love what I have seen of this photographers finished works thus far and (iii) I have met and indeed know a number of the participants. For these reasons, I have re-visited the pictures on various blogs and facebook pages over the past few days, both the ‘official’ ones published by the photographer and others where available.
      I still feel an element of unease at the large mass bodies picture but will hold judgement until the final work is published next year, which I am sure will be as stunning as previous offerings from Musco.

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