As an art student, I learned to share the studio with naked models. As the ‘artist’, when you look at the model, you don’t look at it as a person. That is not to say the model isn’t one. But you are trained to look at them as an object, something you need to observe and extract information from, in terms of volume, shape, negative/positive space, depth etc. There is a lot of careful preparation to be mindful and to maintain an atmosphere of utmost respect. Drawing from life is not just about mastering a technique, but a form of analysis. Drawing not only examines the relationship between the figure and its space and the figure’s internal geometry or anatomy, but also the process of seeing and visualization.
The human body can be a beautiful thing to contemplate and this can be a useful artistic tool in and of itself, just as flowers, sunsets and mountains are similarly useful tools in an artist’s toolkit. For an artist and their model, making art from life is all about the quest for what it is to be human. Hence , it would be natural to expect that the unadorned human form would be among the most powerful of those expressive tools and indeed it is.
And if the point of art isn’t primarily to express ideas about the nature of humanity, what is?