Sherwin Carlquist studied botany at the University of California, Berkeley, with postdoctoral study at Harvard University. He has specialized in studies on plant anatomy (chiefly wood anatomy) and island biology (7 books, nearly 300 scientific papers). He had a successful career, especially in teaching and research, as a professor at Pomona College and Claremont Graduate School, Claremont, California. In his earlier days, he also studied art--particularly composition and design--at the Pasadena Art Institute. His plant anatomy papers and books contain many photographs done with the microscope. When he wrote his book, "HAWAII A NATURAL HISTORY," he began to realize that in photographing plants and animals, placing them in relation to their native landscapes creates compelling images. He developed the idea of applying this to human subjects--a man in a landscape, combining the forms of each into a unified picture. The tradition of Western Art has often been to combine the nude male (in sculpture or painting) with a landscape, emphasizing movement and emotion. This tradition has not really been represented in recent photography, which stresses the body and all too often leaves the rest of the space unused or not imaginatively used. Sherwin Carlquist has attempted to counter this lack, and to develop a genre in art photography that really has lain undeveloped. In a sense, he is photographing the human body like a natural history object, with the beauty and sensuality implied in nature photography of plants and animals focused on a human surrounded by great scenery.
ABOUT THE WORK
Sherwin Carlquist's photographs of nude men are genuine art photos. They are done in natural settings, using natural light. The models are photographed so as to combine their forms with the forms in the landscape--rocks, trees, shadows. The models are in motion when they are photographed--because of this, they have a great variety of poses and forms. In fact, the models don't look and really aren't posed in the ordinary sense. They are part of the landscape itself. And you will see the male body from new angles, in arrangements you have never seen before. The models use the outdoors like some kind of freeform gym. The models were selected for their ability to innovate in movements and yet look natural, as though one were talking to them. Frontal nudity is not coyly avoided or minimized as it is in most photo books of the the nude male, because a natural, comfortable, and unashamed atmosphere is desired (frontal nudity was never avoided or minimized in the classical statues of Greece, Rome, and the Renaissance, either, but some photo books by other photographers avoid it now in order to make their books more palatable to a wider public). The scenery used includes Yosemite, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Kilauea, and many other great natural areas of the American Southwest and Hawaii. The models are diverse in race and age--goodlooking and with excellent bodies, but selected because of their photogenic qualities, not because they qualify as beefcake with muscles attainable only with steroids.
There are many other photographers who present nude males. However, Sherwin Carlquist's photographs are different in that they are genuine art compositions. These are not superbuffed men backed up against a garden wall. The models are in good shape, but they are placed in the landscapes according to artistic design principles. So these photographs look good today, and they will look just as good a hundred years from today. Some of the photographs are witty, some are joyful, some are serious, but they all are memorable and you'll say you haven't seen the human body photographed with such variety and such compositional skill before--the images are fresh and new but timeless. These aren't throwaway magazine photographs, and that's why they are published in large-format hardcover books. It's also why the books are archived in the libraries of many colleges, universities, art museums, and art institutes.
The models are "natural men" by being naked in natural settings, but they are also natural in that all of them are uncircumcised. This matches the natural settings (and likewise, the models have no tattoos, no tanlines, and those who have body hair haven't shaved it off--these are men the way nature intended). The unaltered human body is beautiful, does any alteration really improve on it? The practice of circumcision is vanishing rapidly in the U.S., and soon the majority of American men will be uncircumcised (figures from Dept. of Health), just as virtually all men in Europe, Japan, China, India, and Latin America are uncircumcised--about 90% of the world's men are intact. Recent studies show that over half of a man's erotically sensitive tissue is removed by circumcision (Brit. J. Urology 77:291-295, 1996). Although you will hear other reasons (which turn out to be mostly incorrect according to scientific studies) for the practice, circumcision has been done in the U.S. largely because doctors make a lot of money doing it. The photos in these books may not reflect the current male population in the U.S. over age 20, but they reflect the world population. In a decade or two, most U.S. men will be uncircumcised.
The photo books of Sherwin Carlquist are published in elegant format, but priced reasonably, because the photographs are meant to last. Fine paper, fine printing, and a generous number of photographs--these aren't cheap small-format thin papercover editions with poor printing. And the books are all published in limited editions of 2,000 copies each. The copies are hand-numbered. Autographed copies are obtainable upon request. The books are offered approximately at cost (bookstores usually double the wholesale cost when retailing a book a book to you), so you will receive much more value by ordering them directly from Sherwin Carlquist (see below for instructions). If you check used-book sites or stores, you will find that the prices of books by Sherwin Carlquist go up markedly as they go out of print--they're a great investment. When the books go out of print, they will not be reprinted--like limited edition lithographs.
Original prints are also available. These are 11" X 14" prints on mat-finish Ilford Galerie, a heavy exhibition-quality paper. Prints available correspond to the photographs shown in the books. Only ten prints of each photograph have been prepared (no more will be printed), and these are supplied numbered, dated, and signed. For details, write
4539 Via Huerto
Santa Barbara, CA