Jock Sturges

Date/place of birth

1947, New York, New York, United States

Jock Sturges - Danielle, Montalivet
Jock Sturges - Danielle, Montalivet

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Jock Sturges biography

When an artist favours photographing very young, naked adolescent girls, heated controversies are bound to ensue. So far, Jock Sturges, the American who finds most of his models on European nudist beaches, has survived unscathed. 

Jock Sturges – Nude photographs with a psychological note

Jock Sturges was born in New York in 1947. After serving in the United States Navy as a Russian language expert from 1966 to 1970, he studied photography and cognitive psychology in San Francisco. Since the 1970s, he spent a lot of time on the nudist beaches in California, Spain and especially Montalivet in France, met various families there and photographed them and their children. Jock Sturges always stresses that he is not concerned with the depiction of eroticism and sexuality, but the natural beauty of children and young women. Referring to his psychology studies, he notes that he spends most of his life not taking photographs but forming and maintaining relationships that ultimately merge into his photographic work. And indeed, most of the models are from his circle of friends and acquaintances and have been accompanied by him with the camera for many years. He portrayed the Californian Misty Dawn from childhood to adulthood, making her physical development tangible for his audience and thus creating a piece of modern art history. 

Black and white summer melancholy with rare splashes of colour

For his admirers, Jock Sturges is one of the few photo artists who understands how to blend the aesthetics of the human body with the grace and pureness of nature, without relying on intentional staging. Through this focus on naturalness, Jock Sturges stands apart even from colleagues such as David Hamilton who intentionally present their young models in an erotic and stimulating context. The majority of the pictures are in restrained black and white, but occasional soft colour photographs are mixed into the oeuvre of Jock Sturges. He often photographs in the light of the afternoon and evening sun, profiting from the long shadows which, in combination with the grey tones, lend his pictures the bittersweet melancholy of the waning free summertime. The artist consequentially named his first photo book The Last Days of Summer. 

Police house searches and heated TV debates

Jock Sturges was often confronted with on-going controversies because of his choice of motif. The disputes came to a head in 1990 when his office was searched by FBI officers and his equipment was confiscated. The allegations of child pornography ultimately could not be sufficiently substantiated to convince the grand jury, so Sturges was returned his property and allowed to continue his work. The controversial artist often had to explain in numerous TV debates his understanding of art and his relationship to the young models. Meanwhile, the work of Jock Sturges can be seen in the great museums of the world including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and the Museum for Modern Art in Frankfurt.

Jock Sturges lives and works in San Francisco. 

© Kunsthaus Lempertz

Jock Sturges Prices

Jock SturgesDanielle, Montalivet€2.975
Jock SturgesJennifer, County Galway, Ireland€1.860
Jock SturgesAngela in Paris, France€1.860
Jock SturgesFanny, Montalivet, France€1.612
Jock SturgesMisty Dawn, Northern California€1.586

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