Erotic depictions of women in drawing, painting, sculpture and photography from the dawn of man to the present.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Unshaven Venus: Aida Folch

Last night Triple P watched the Spanish film El artista y la modelo (2012) which he greatly enjoyed.  About an ageing sculptor (Jean Rochefort) working with a new young model on his last masterpiece, it carried a lot of resonance for Triple P as regards the relationship between artists and model.

The model is played by Catalonian actress Aida Folch, who looks like a cross between Liv Tyler and Letitia Herod, Triple P's local supermodel.  She not only displays a luxuriant bush but also delightfully fluffy armpits as well.  The film is shot in luminous black and white, perhaps to stop you being completely overwhelmed by Miss Folch's naked body, which is on display much of the time.

Colour behind the scenes shot of Miss Folch in full-on fluff mode

Triple P has always been artistically inclined and contemplated going to art school at the recommendation of his art teachers.  You don't make money out of art unless you are very, very lucky so we decided to go to university instead and abandoned our formal art training.  Our school allowed us to do A level art at school (for an examination at the age of eighteen) even though we had given up studying it formally.

Since then we have spent many happy hours drawing naked women (we soon realised that there was little point in any other form of art - although we did do some pen and ink work of buildings) and indeed has started relationships with some of them purely on what was just an initial artist/model relationship.  A few years ago the results of a survey was published which said that artists had more sex with more women than people in any other job.  Whether this is because of a naturally sensitive disposition, an unconventional "creative" outlook or because drawing naked women is a key part of artistic training we don't know.  

Relationships developing between artists and their models are not uncommon as, for example, in the case of Egon Schiele and Wally Neuzil which we looked at in a previous post.  Many artists settle on one particular woman to act as their muse for many works, such as Sir William Russell Flint and Cecilia Green and Lord Leighton and Dorothy Dene.  In the film, the artist's wife (played by an unrecognisable Claudia Cardinale) had been the sculptor's muse until this new young girl turned up in his village, having fled from General Franco's Spain in the middle of World War 2.

The other area of resonance for Triple P is that the film is set in the Pyrénées-Orientales; that part of France on the Mediterranean end of the Spanish border.  Triple P used to go to the region on holiday every year from the age of four until he was thirteen.  Unlike another film of director Fernando Tueba's which we enjoyed, Belle Epoque (1992), which was set in Spain but filmed in Portugal, El artista y la modelo was filmed in the region although, oddly, largely on the Spanish side of the mountains.  The locals all like to regard the region as one unified Catalonia anyway.

Anyway, back to Miss Folch and her fluffy surfaces.  The director had informed her she would have to stop shaving for the part.  This is certainly something you wouldn't see in American TV or film (Barbara Carrera as an Indian squaw in the TV miniseries Centennial being a notable exception) but European actresses don't have a problem with it, as Penelope Cruz has demonstrated on several occasions.

As Triple P has mentioned before he has experienced the full gamut of armpit hair from white blonde (V) through bright orange (C) to blue black (P, who was Sicilian).  We don't recoil in horror at it, as most Americans and young people in the UK do, as in the seventies and early eighties it was not unusual on young women in Britain.  They'd maybe tidy themselves up for the summer.  After all women didn't start to shave their armpits until Gillette made it an issue (which it absolutely hadn't been before) with women in the US, given the new sleeveless dresses in the nineteen twenties.  They just wanted to sell more razors.

The truth is that while it looks odd with very formal clothes (Julia Roberts at her red carpet incident a few years ago) when a woman is naked or casually dressed Triple P actually finds it positively sexy.  Provided, that is, that it isn't swamped in tongue shrivelling deodorant.  It's a mixture of "I don't care" and primitive earth mother, we suppose. Anyway we liked the soft quality of it when we had girlfriends displaying fluff: sliding your hands up from smooth, soft breasts to fluffy armpits created a delightful tactile cocktail.  The only issue we have is with the word "armpit" which is, as Monty Python would have said, a "tinny" word rather than a "woody" word.  If only there was a nice word analogous to "pussy"!
What we don't like is stubble, however, so all on or all off!

Finally, an oddity which sums up the difference between the US and UK on matters of film classification is that in the US this film is rated 'R'.  This means that an under seventeen attending has to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.  This, the second highest rating in the MPAA system, is usually reserved for films with sexually oriented full frontal nudity.   Although there is  a lot of female full frontal nudity in the film it isn't sexual, there is no violence and no swearing.  So in Britain it has been classified as a '12' certificate. In France it was a 'U' (tous public) the same as, for example, a Disney animation.  In its home country of Spain it got a APTA rating "suitable for all audiences; the same as. for example Mary Poppins.  Of course, if it had no nudity but lots of violence it would have got a lower rating in the US.  We know that many Americans came from Puritan stock but, honestly, that was nearly four hundred years ago.  When are they going to realise that everyone is naked underneath their clothes and its not going to destroy the world?

Triple P was reminded of an incident in Boston's splendid Museum of Fine Arts. which he was visiting about eighteen months ago with his particular friend S, from Vancouver who, being half French, thinks that American views on nudity are quaint.  We were standing next to a renaissance painting of some naked cherubs in a painting of the Virgin Mary.  A group of schoolchildren of about eight or nine walked past and started saying "eew that's disgusting!"  To be fair the (woman) teacher replied with "no it's not, it's beautiful" but, honestly, something is going very wrong somewhere over there.

So let's celebrate the natural loveliness of Aida Folch in all her fluffy gorgeousness.  She is a fine actress too and we will look out for more films she appears in.

As for the film itself, it's not as much fun as Belle Epoque and as an artist and model film it's not as good as La Belle Noiseuse (1991) but it's a pleasant way to spend an hour and forty minutes, especially with a bottle of rose wine and some olives.


  1. I like this unshaven Venus. And your comments are relevant. Of course, nudity is not disgusting. And Aida Folch is beautiful and gorgeous.

  2. As an artist myself who regularly draws and paints nudes, I have witnessed over the years the gradual disappearance of pubic and underarm hair on my models, although it is now staging a comeback. My regular model of a couple of years is 20 now and when she started posing actually shaved off her pubic hair because she thought that was what was required, it has now thankfully grown back. Aesthetically, a dark patch at the pubes is more pleasing on a nude painting than nothing at all and I often paint it in even when the model doesn't sport any. As to affairs, I must say they must be happening to other artists, my livelihood depends on trust between myself and the model and I think of it as purely a working transaction, they take their clothes off and I paint and pay them.(but pleasant nevertheless).

  3. Thanks for this post...I love a woman with their natural body hair, the underarm being a particularly lovely spot. (Obviously I enjoy the posts on this blog about the pubic wars, with the requisite lovely fur.) Aida Folch is also stunning and has quite a lovely display of armpit hair.