5 ARTISTS WHO LOVE PAINTING FEMALE NUDES
by CHRISTOPHER SMAIL
Nude art has been represented in paintings and statues since prehistory. From a liberal view in the Classical period to a conservative outlook in the Middle Ages, as well as more ups and downs in the Renaissance and Victorian eras. We now exist in an age in which body related taboos seem to be less of an issue to a Western audience, as the media is saturated with sexual and beautified imagery.
April 6, 2010 by curatorialintern
We have, more or less, as an audience become used to the idealized depiction of women. Often, particularly in classical styles, they were portrayed as reclining nudes who were there for the viewer’s pleasure. With averted eyes, they touched themselves sensually, typically innocent and oblivious that there is someone painting her for all to see. When they weren’t sexual-fantasy fodder, they were servile and obedient–particularly in the 1940’s and 1950’s after the end of the strong women era of World War II. They wore their hair in perfect curls, with their perfect dresses and worked merrily away in their perfect kitchens. In Jack Levine’s Girl with Red Hair there is a shift away from the perfect, care-free woman that came before. Rather, nudity is embraced as an aspect of the woman’s power rather than the viewer’s object. The subject confronts the viewer with her gaze. This portrait is not a portrait of a naked girl, but rather, a girl who happens to be naked. There is no trace of sexiness or sensuality–we are drawn to her face so that we may attempt to discern what this girl is thinking. Though her breasts are there, they are poorly rendered compared to the depth of her face and do not trap the eye like the neatly depicted flesh of the reclining nudes.Continue reading “The Portrayal of Women in Art: 1962-2002”