Dr. Paul LeValley, currently the president of the American Nudist Research Library at Cypress Cove, is a retired professor of Humanities and Art History. He taught at Florida State University and at Florida A&M University, both in Tallahassee and at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan. His specialty is art in India, where he has observed and photographed various objects on numerous visits. He has served for 20 years as the coordinator of the Professors & Researchers SIG (Special Interest Group) of The Naturist Society Foundation.
In 1988 LeValley began writing a column on art for Naturally magazine, a now defunct magazine produced and edited by the late Bern Loibl. He called his column “Art Follows Nature” and he faithfully produced a quarterly column for the next 20 years – truly a record for anyone who has written a column for any American nudist magazine. After 2008, he wrote a few more installments that ran as late as 2012.
When the magazine ceased publication, Dr. LeValley began a massive project to collect 20 years of columns into a large book (over 500 pages) that was copyrighted in 2016. The book is entitled Art Follows Nature: A Worldwide History of the Nude. In the introduction to the book, LeValley documents books written by several others during the 20th century and then asks the question:
“So why should anyone be interested in yet another book on the topic [of nude art]? This is the first such book written from a naturist perspective. … And it is the first solid text accompanied by colored pictures. More importantly, this book escapes the narrow Western tradition and examines the topic worldwide. India is one of its strengths.”
And, indeed, it does. The book is arranged primarily by geographic location, from Egypt through India to several Oriental countries and on to Africa and the Pacific Islands. Under each geographic location the subtopics investigate religious groups, philosophical groups, ethnic groups, and athletic groups that enjoyed the freedom of expression that involved the nude body in some art form.
The final half of the book is devoted to Western Cultural Tradition, moving from Medieval times (Lady Godiva) through the Renaissance (the statue of David) and on to the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (skinny-dipping, realistic artwork – think Norman Rockwell and others – to elaborate and well-designed photographs).
The conclusion of the book contains the original publication history, reading recommendations, a travel guide to the artworks, and an extensive and comprehensive index. It is an excellent reference book for the art student and a very interesting read (not all at one sitting, however) for today’s nudist/naturist. If you would like to investigate the possibility of owning one of the limited and signed copies for yourself, log onto www.paullevalley.com and click on “Books by Paul LeValley.”
In closing, a brief biography of Dr. LeValley. He was a skinny-dipper in several states and countries long before he set foot in a nudist resort. He joined ASA (which became AANR) in 1990 and is now a Life Member. He co-founded an ASA/AANR club, Tallahassee Naturally, and as such, developed the College Greek Athletic Meet which was held for 22 years – yes, nude. He now lives at Cypress Cove and is honored by his election to the ASA/AANR Hall of Fame.