There has been a revival of body painting in Western society since the 1960s, in part prompted by the liberalization of social moresregarding nudity and often comes in sensationalist or exhibitionist forms. Even today there is a constant debate about the legitimacy of body painting as an art form. The current modern revival could be said to date back to the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago when Max Factor, Sr. and his model Sally Rand were arrested for causing a public disturbance when he body-painted her with his new make-up formulated for Hollywood films. Body art today evolves to the works more directed towards personal mythologies, as Jana Sterbak, Rebecca Horn, Youri Messen-Jaschin, Jacob Alexander Figueroa or Javier Perez.
Body painting led to a minor alternative art movement in the 1950s and 1960s, which involved covering a model in paint and then having the model touch or roll on a canvas or other medium to transfer the paint. French artist Yves Klein is perhaps the most famous for this, with his series of paintings “Anthropometries”. The effect produced by this technique creates an image-transfer from the model’s body to the medium. This includes all the curves of the model’s body (typically female) being reflected in the outline of the image. This technique was not necessarily monotone; multiple colors on different body parts sometimes produced interesting effects.
Body painting festivals happen annually across the world, bringing together professional body painters as well as keen amateurs. Body paintings can also typically be seen at footballmatches, at rave parties, and at certain festivals. The World Bodypainting Festival in Pörtschach (previously held in Seeboden) in Austria is the biggest art event in the bodypainting theme and thousands of visitors admire the wonderful work of the participants.
Body painting festivals that take place in North America include the North American Body Painting Championship, Face and Body Art International Convention in Orlando, Florida, Bodygras Body Painting Competition in Nanaimo, BC and the Face Painting and Body Art Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Australia also has a number of body painting festivals, most notably the annual Australian Body Art Festival in Eumundi, Queensland and the Australian Body Art Awards.
In Italy, the Rabarama Skin Art Festival (held every year during the Summer and Autumn, with a tour in the major Italian cities), is a different event focused on the artistic side of body painting, highlighting the emotional impact of the painted body in a live performance more than the decorative and technical aspects of it. This particular form of creative art is known as “Skin Art”.
Following the already established trend in Western-Europe, body painting has become more widely accepted in the United States since the early 1990s. In 2006 the first gallery dedicated exclusively to fine art body painting was opened in New Orleans by World Bodypainting Festival Champion and Judge, Craig Tracy. The Painted Alive Gallery is on Royal Street in the French Quarter. In 2009, a popular late night talk show Last Call with Carson Daly on NBC network, featured a New York-based artist Danny Setiawan who creates reproductions of masterpieces by famous artists such as Salvador Dalí, Vincent van Gogh, and Gustav Klimt on human bodies aiming to make fine art appealing for his contemporaries who normally would not consider themselves as art enthusiasts.
One of the most talented body painters has to be Jen the body painter. We’ve never seen anything quite like it. Such Talent!
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