Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts, nude models strike, art school models strike

Parisian Art Models Stage Nude Strike

December 16, 2008 12:58 PM
by Rachel Balik
Models who pose nude for Paris art schools faced cold temperatures as they appeared outside unclothed to strike for better wages, benefits and respect.

Nude Arts Models Strike in the Cold

Much like waiters, nude models in the Paris art schools used to make 25 percent of their salaries in tips. But these tip jars were recently removed from classrooms when the government cited a law prohibiting cash pay in state buildings. One art teacher said that previously, however, the jars weren’t bothering anyone. The school’s decision to remove the cups may be linked the to the suffering economy.

The Deputy of Cultural Affairs told Bloomberg that while it was necessary to follow the law, a pay increase to compensate the models’ loss might be possible. The strikers are seeking more nonetheless. They want an official rise in status as well, and hope to be able to join a union; two French unions support their campaign for benefits and sick pay.

The strike was not just about money and benefits for the shivering models, who took breaks from baring their flesh to wear warm coats or sip hot wine. The strike was also about respect. A blog on The Times of London notes that the strike coincidentally occurred at the same time as an exhibit at the École Nationale des Beaux Arts, “Figures of the body, an anatomy lesson at the Beaux Arts.” The exhibit, like the models on strike, argue that the nude modeling is a craft unto itself, and that nude models deserve to be honored for their vital contributions to the canon of European artwork.

Related Topic: Tipping and the economy

There are many professionals who have been accustomed to living primarily off tips, and they are suffering as a result of the poor economy. New York Magazine interviewed waiters, bellhops, barbers, cab drivers and others in November 2008 and found that in certain industries, tipping-based income has been reduced by almost half on a given day.

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