Venus as an Acrobat In Stunning Photographs of Acey Harper
31 August 2021 

Venus as an Acrobat In Stunning Photographs of Acey Harper

These exquisite b&w pictures make you think about how reckless all the engaged people are. In fact, they had to take their places and make photos quickly not to be caught by police… Anyway, the photographer’s output completely matches his personality. According to info on the site, Acey Harper is a son of a rodeo cowboy. The artist spent his youth “wandering the Bahama Islands with his grandfather, a raconteur and treasure hunter renowned throughout the Caribbean.” Feel envy (well, your inner kid rather does)? Or intrigued? Let’s take a look at Acey Harper’s Acrobats.

Acey Harper

Fig. 1. Acey Harper (

acey harper photographer

Fig. 2.

acey harper nude photographer

Fig. 3. Kristina Canizares, PRIVATE ACTS, The Acrobat Sublime, Rizzoli, 2011 (

Kerri, PRIVATE ACTS, The Acrobat Sublime

Fig. 4. Kerri, PRIVATE ACTS, The Acrobat Sublime, Rizzoli, 2011 (

acey harper photography

Fig. 5.

photographer acey harper

Fig. 6.

acey harper policecar

Fig. 7.

Getting Paid For a Dream

In one of his interviews, Harper says that his interest in photography started with his job as a copy boy. He ran errands at the office of a local newspaper and discovered there some helpful contributors that were ready to show him how the thing works. They would take Harper on assignments and let him make shoots himself providing critical feedback afterward. Having received this initial training, the artist started working as a staff photographer in a local newspaper in South Florida. As Harper claims, he couldn’t believe that he would be paid for making photographs, so much he liked the process, combining the job of a photojournalist with experimental activities at the studio. Such eagerness bear fruit as Harper won several awards for his photos.

Assistant of Reality

Being noticed by employers, the artist continued his career in USA Today, which enabled him to travel across the USA covering a wide range of events. Then he left newspapers for magazines and worked in such periodicals as Time, People, Fortune, where he also reported on hot things from politics and riots to TV shows. While performing this job, he also contributed to some projects as a picture editor. According to Harper, examining other’s people work helped him to broaden his own vision. Despite a successful career as a photo reporter, the artist felt he wanted to express himself from within, whereas the photojournalist is just an assistant of reality.

acey harper nude in tunnel

Fig. 8.

PRIVATE ACTS: The Acrobat Sublime

Fig. 9. Playa, PRIVATE ACTS: The Acrobat Sublime (Rizzoli 2011),

Acey Harper acrobat

Fig. 10.

Acey Harper two acrobats

Fig. 11.

Acey Harper female acrobat

Fig. 12.

Acey Harper female acrobat with rope

Fig. 13.

Acey Harper female nude with rope

Fig. 14.

nude Acey Harper

Fig. 15.

artist Acey Harper

Fig. 16.

Acey Harper nude hanging from a tree

Fig. 17.

Acey Harper artist

Fig. 18.

Acey Harper traffic light

Fig. 19.

Acey Harper traffic sign

Fig. 20.

Releasing the Inner Artist

As an artist, Harper is best known for his Acrobats series done in collaboration with the artists from the Circus Center in San Francisco. The initial concept was to put an accent on the acrobats using minimalistic grey background and artificial light. The output didn’t satisfy Harper because “the images had no soul to them.” To jump on trampolines at the studio wasn’t challenging for the artists whose trainings became routine. The results looked uninspiring, though technically perfect. Thus, Harper changed the strategy and focused on “the raw courage of young aerialists and contortionists who began each day with a search for new ways to move their bodies and express themselves.” An experimental weekend photo session in the countryside gave Harper the idea of an acrobat blending in the environment.

1957 Chevy Truck

One of the most impressive images taken with this approach is the shoot of three women hanging upside down from the iron lamps of the Opera House in San Francisco (fig. 32). Female figures look like decorative marble nymphs, perfectly merging with the facade. The sculptural composition of three more females rising above the water (fig. 33) resembles those of park fountains. Another image to stick in your memory is the photo of the woman (Morgaine Rosenthal) hanging by her mouth from the hoist in the back of a 1957 Chevy truck (fig. 35). Harper confesses that he had this image for six months in his mind before it was finally taken and that the biggest problem was not the human but the truck as it couldn’t climb the hills because of the wet weather. The photographer claims that these images are like “one-time performances, unique and never to be repeated. I directed and produced this performance and then captured it on camera. Then, we are gone never to return.”

Acey Harper hanging nude

Fig. 21.

hanging nude Acey Harper

Fig. 22.

Acey Harper photo journalist

Fig. 23.

Acey Harper crane

Fig. 24.

Acey Harper crane model

Fig. 25.

Acey Harper bridge

Fig. 26.

Acey Harper bondage

Fig. 27.

Acey Harper nudes

Fig. 28.

Acey Harper trees

Fig. 29.

Acey Harper couple hanging on ropes

Fig. 30.

Acey Harper acrobatics

Fig. 31.

Acey Harper Val, Steph, Eve

Fig. 32. Val, Steph, Eve, 2011 (

Acey Harper models in the water

Fig. 33.

Acey Harper model on the railroad

Fig. 34. Playa 2, 2011 (

Acey Harper model hanging on a crane

Fig. 35.

acrobatic nude Acey Harper

Fig. 36.

Kerri, PRIVATE ACTS: The Acrobat Sublime

Fig. 37. Kerri, PRIVATE ACTS: The Acrobat Sublime, Rizzoli 2011 (

Acey Harper 3 models

Fig. 38.

acrobatics Acey Harper

Fig. 39.

Lauren Herley, Redwoods, PRIVATE ACTS: The Acrobat Sublime

Fig. 40. Lauren Herley, Redwoods, PRIVATE ACTS: The Acrobat Sublime, Rizzoli (

Sources: Acey Harper : The body in all its forms (;

Click HERE for the sensual photography depicting the flirtatious nudes by Helmut Newton…!!

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About the author
Darya is a philologist who lives and works in Saint-Petersburg, Russia. She is specialized in Russian literature.


on 1 September 2021

Tastes differ :)

Abdull F.

Abdull F.

on 1 September 2021

Awesome and creative photographer



on 2 September 2021

Thanks Abdull, you're absolutely right!



on 1 September 2021

Some very interesting work, but the fact some models are partly dressed (bras, underware,) detracts from the sculptural quality of the body shapes and I find it utterly annoying. I agree with Trounce that Brito does it better, just chiseling the bodies with light and shade, but it's also comparing apples and oranges, somehow; they are both fruits, yet, taste differently, "texture" differently, satisfy different needs. If I had to pic three, 40, 32, 15 would be my choice. #15 has an abstract quality to it that is quite unique, almost like "soft kimbaku.," as opposed to tight roping. Hopefully we'll see Alvin Booth added to the Shunga Gallery sometime soon. It would be interesting article to compare different artists that use roping (not all bondage is kimbaku, although they they may be distant relatives,) and how rope is explored aesthetically, side-by-side with other elements added to the photos.



on 2 September 2021

Thanks for your opinion JB. It's indeed comparing apples to oranges. The focus of both artists vary. Brito uses the studio in which everything is concentrated on the anatomy of the figure while in Harper's compositions the location and setting are co-determining. Btw. Alvin Booth is on the agenda.



on 2 September 2021

Very much so Marijn! Harper wouldn't be Harper if it weren't for the staging of his models and "props' used. It's nothing short of amazing that over thousands of years, artists are still able to express themselves differently, develop graphic vocabularies and chromatic and gray scale palettes that are unique and personal. When I think of it, that's probably the same thing that makes me collect erotic art: it's not about sex and sexual intercourse, but how it's expressed, experienced and enjoyed, what desires, fantasies, traumas and/or inhibitions are shown or just exposed. It's all about what binds (pun intended) us together and sets us appart and makes us who we are, as individuals.



on 2 September 2021

Thanks a lot JB. Love your statement on erotic art. I can't add anything more to that!

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