Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Nudity in Art: Final Chapter

Well, after coming down with a cold this week, I'm trying to muster enough energy to finish this blog series! So here we go... We at last move to some of the modern painters and their approaches to the human form. Pablo Picasso was creative and ingenius in ways that conservatives are often resistent in giving him credit for. He was also very talented; if you look at his earlier work (before 1906), you can see that he knew classical technique and anatomy. This nude, for example, "Blue Nude", from 1902, is quite beautiful and well-rendered. Picasso - "Blue Nude" - 1902 - private collection However, Picasso soon went in a different direction. While Gauguin's work had remained essentially representational, his figures were somewhat androgynous. Picasso took this muc… Read more »


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Nudity in Art: Gauguin Continued

I had just a bit more to say about Gauguin before I continue on. I mentioned that Gauguin frequently used Eve as a theme in his works of Tahitian female nudes. I would like to clarify that while this may seem a pure attempt to revive beauty as of old (and the paintings are quite beautiful!), Gauguin's "Eve" played a much different role. As we have seen with Manet's "Olympia," the problems with nudity in 19th-century art had to do with finding an appropriate setting for it. After all, nudity in Salon art (see works by Ingres and Jerome, for example) had become decadent and eroticized under the guise of classical themes. Gauguin wasn't merely attemping to revive the old themes - if so, he might have chosen Venus, rather that Eve. However, Eve's nudity was… Read more »


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Continued - Nudity in Art from a Christian Perspective

Sorry for the wait - I wanted to have this finished two weeks ago! But when you're an artist it's a blessing to be busy, and for the past two weeks I've have been exactly that. I also hope that I'm not boring you too much with all this art history. I really believe that in viewing a work of art, it is crucial for us to understand its historical context. So, moving on, I should at least mention briefly some of the movements that were being questioned by the 19th-century Realists and Impressionists. Up until the mid-1860s, the Paris Salon had been the main authority in art. The Salon accepted traditional work in its exhibitions, but by this time, there were already many signs that the old values were dead. Neoclassicism, Romanticism, and the work of the PreRaphaelites (pleas… Read more »


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

On Medieval Nudity and the Art of the Sensual

I'm back! I wanted to address a couple of questions that were brought up by one of my readers before I continue forward in art history. My friend Matt, a fellow Hillsdale grad, had a two-fold question as follows: "Firstly, if Medieval artists wished to point to genuinely divine things and ultimately to God, using human symbols - Mary, Jesus, the saints, animals, etc., why did they avoid nudity? On the contrary, by and large they piled clothing on their characters. Were all the artists simply prudes? Perhaps the iconographic nude can't and won't open directly up to the contemplation of God. Why is this? Is it something to do with purity? Has it something to do with Him being an infinite person? Secondly, Titian carries this sort-of Platonic Christian humanism, that you desc… Read more »

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