Mats Gustafson: Nude

Introduction by Christopher Bollen

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The nude body may still be the most dangerous image in western culture. Decades after the sexual revolution, society’s discomfort with the human form is alive and well, as it develops new versions of the same puritanical or infantile responses that have always sought to censor or stigmatize it. The nude self may no longer be XXX, but it’s certainly NSFW; we may have stopped draping classical statues, but we are desperate to contain our gender identities to two hyper-minimal pictograms for bathroom options. Arguably, this repudiation of human sexuality shares a root with society’s other bodily horror: our collective fear and shame over sickness, deterioration, and death. We have come to see our genitals as sites of weakness just as we have our eventual decay: both most be covered, hidden, left unspoken, treated as sources of humiliation.

From the Introduction by Christopher Bollen

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CHRISTOPHER BOLLEN: The AIDS crisis is a haunting undercurrent to this series of nudes, most of which you produced in the late 1980s and early ’90s. Had you done nudes before?

MATS GUSTAFSON: No, not since art school. All of my work up to that point was fashion-based and dealt with clothing.

BOLLEN: So the nude was a direct response to the impact of AIDS?

GUSTAFSON: Yes. It is the reason why this series came about. No matter what you were doing in those years, AIDS forced you to rethink your entire practice. And I think that was especially true in fashion, which on one hand is an industry based on superficiality and beauty. But, as you mentioned, it was at the heart of gay culture. So the members of the fashion world became activists to a certain extent. And my way of becoming an activist was to portray something different than clothing. I wanted to undress the body to reveal its vulnerability and tenderness. I wanted to get down to something human—yes, the flesh but also love, life, and sexuality. I really saw these works as a love of life.

Mats Gustafson, born in Sweden in 1951, has long been recognized for his international career as a top fashion illustrator. First working at British Vogue in 1978, Gustafson quickly moved on to American Vogue, Andy Warhol’s Interview, and the world’s most important fashion magazines and international fashion houses (Comme des Garcons, Chanel, Yohji Yamamoto). In addition to his acclaimed fashion work, he has had a dual career as an artist.

In Nude, Gustafson’s second artist book with August Editions, he shares a very personal side of himself and his work. Printed on thick watercolor paper, the book itself is a work of art, worthy and ready for framing.

Price: US $60

ISBN: 978-1-947359-01-7


9 x 11.25” (216 x 286 mm)

104 pages

58 color illustrations

Release date: January 2018

Mats Gustafson: Nude is published in a limited edition of 1,000 copies.