Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Guide (3): The Most Recurring Subject

 A Guide to Understanding the Nude in Art (Part 3 of 3)

 Author information:  joellescottgallery  (Richard T. Scott)

The Sculptor and the Nude- Picasso
 I would like to rephrase our original question now in the interest of brevity and to be more specific. "Why is it that the most recurring subject in all of art history by far is the human face and body?" Modern scientific research into the brain also gives us a clue to the reasons behind our question. The human face and the human body are psychologically stimulating to the mind. Our brains are actually hard wired to recognize human form. Take, for example, a chimpanzee. If you look at three different chimps for 5 seconds, would you be able to tell them apart as individuals? Now if you look at three human faces for 5 seconds, I bet your success rate will be much greater. But a chimp can recognize and differentiate between othere chimps much easier, just as you can recognize a human face more easily.

     You might say, Ok I understand why we look at faces, that makes sense, but my question was 'why the nude?'. Well there are multiple reasons. First is tradition. There is a long tradition predating even the Egyptians of recreating the human body. So, as a method of teaching art, there are lots of people who have done it before and so there are a lot of excellent techniques and examples to study. These principles  we learn by studying figurative art can also apply to other forms of art as well. Second, it is a test of skill. If one can make a believable representation of something that we are so familiar with, then everything else is a piece of cake. If I paint a chimp, you would be less critical of whether it looks real than if I painted a human face, simply because most of us don't see chimps every day for our entire lives and we are not hardwired to recognize them in the same way. Some artists get caught up in this challenge for perfection and are never satisfied with their degree of skill (I know I never am) and so continue to pursue the impossible perfection even though most people might not see the minute flaws of the work which the artist does see. -the next passage includes some of my religious opinions on the subject and is not intended to force my views on anyone, merely to share another point of view.-

     Third, (and most importantly to me) the nude, when I choose to paint it, is representative of something more than observation. My works are meant to evoke complex emotions or thoughts in the viewer, and are not meant to be solely decorative, though beauty is important for me and they may be this also. Since nudity is not often seen in normal everyday settings outside of the home, it implies that there is something more to the interpretation of the artwork. It makes the piece more intimate. For me, art is about conveying the complexity of life; its joy and its sorrow. If I paint a nude with a certain degree of sexuality implied, it is to communicate the dual nature of every human being. All of us, from the most pious to the most base, from the greatest ideals of of compassion and love, to fear and jealousy and greed; we are all torn between what we are and what we wish to be. We all have desire to do or see something greater than what is before us, and we all struggle with the desire for immediate pleasure and how they may get in the way of our greater goals. It is this tension between our animal and divine sides that I attempt to evoke; and in doing so, perhaps to help myself and others understand a little bit more about being human.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Guide (2): The Observed Nude; The Expressive Nude

A Guide to Understanding the Nude in Art (Part 2 of 3)

Author information:  joellescottgallery  (Richard T. Scot2t)

 The Observed Nude: Originating in the Fayum portraits of ancient Greece in a technique of painting called Encaustic, which uses wax as a medium for pigment instead of oil or water. the main purpose of this was to capture the individual's personality and particular appearance. Great examples of this can be found in the paintings of Rembrandt, John Singer Sargent, and ancient Roman portrait busts.

Portrait of Kristof-  Richard T Scott
                     
Study of Torso -Michelangelo 
 The Expressive Nude: This form is intended to do just what the name implies. The nude is used here as the main vehicle for the artist's expression, usually with emotive, or in the case of the renaissance, devotional purposes. Great examples would be the work of Michelangelo (who could be classified under ideal nude as well) and most of the artists of the modern period: Rodin, Picasso, Matisse, Kathe Kollwitz, Edvard Munch, and Paul Gauguin etc...

A Study in Memoree- Richard T Scott
 To be continued....

Part 3: The Most Recurring Subject

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Guide (1): The Ideal Nude

 A Guide to Understanding the Nude in Art (Part 1 of 3)

 Author information:  joellescottgallery  (Richard T. Scott)
 
My friends and family often ask me why so many artists paint (as they say) "naked people". Some think that the nude is only an excuse for pornography, while others just think that it's out-dated in the art world today. Most figurative artists (artists who work with the figure) will tell you something along the lines of "we don't see them as 'naked' we just see beauty". Though this may be true, it doesn't answer our question. As a classically trained artist myself, I have a theory on why people make art using the nude as a subject. I think the first step in understanding the nude in art, is to understand why people made them in the past, and why they continue to make them. 
 There are three basic categories of nudes, which are not necessarily mutually exclusive (sometimes they overlap):

Venus di Milo- Greek sculpture
The Ideal Nude: Originating with the Greeks, the ideal nude is just a concept really. the basis of which was most clearly explained by Plato. He stated that within all things there is a universal and divine "form" that defines it. For example: if you look at 100 trees, you'll find that each individual tree will look different, yet they are all similar enough to be categorized as trees. What is the sameness or underlying quality of the tree which makes it a tree? This thing, this sameness, Plato called form. Greek artists took this idea and sought the ideal form of the human body. they used shapes in the body, much like a musician would use musical notes to form a chord. The idea was to create a harmony through repetition and variation of certain visual elements of the body. Excellent examples of this are of course classical Greek and Roman sculpture, Leonardo da Vinci (who also could be mentioned in all of these categories for different works), Donatello, Rafael, and the Neo-classicists of the 19th century.
Vetruvian Man- Leonardo da Vinci

 To be continued...
 Part 2: The Observed Nude;  The Expressive Nude

Friday, November 29, 2013

Body Language, Saatchi Gallery /The Male Nude: Eighteenth-century Drawings from the Paris Academy, Wallace Collection [excerpts]

Form and substance: Jean-Baptiste Isabey's
Seated man, leaning on his right arm, 1789,
the pose that of an antique Roman sculpture
© ENSBA, Paris
Brian Sewell [for the London Evening Standard]

Why would anyone prefer childish simplicity to a complex drawing that grapples with form, musculature, accumulated fat, the tension of the skin and the bones and joints beneath?

In his current exhibition, Body Language, [Charles] Saatchi again explores aspects of figurative art but with neither the aesthetic nor the visceral challenge of Sensation, and as the artists are not English we can draw no useful conclusions from it, as we did with the YBAs. It is the result, I fear, of perhaps too random a trawl in the United States and casual acquaintance in Japan, Budapest and Yekaterinburg. The only familiar artist is Chantal Joffe, an American working in London....

The spaces of the Saatchi Gallery are splendid, lofty, vast, the lighting brilliant, and of this the immediate consequence is that the paintings it houses are given false authority, and we stand before them in veneration as though before an altarpiece. But they are not spiritually thaumaturgical and they deserve no such response. We should discern at once that Makiko Kudo’s verdant landscapes have only the shallow charm of murals that the cheap restaurants of my youth employed to camouflage their shabbiness, that likening Helen Verhoeven’s supposedly mysterious gatherings to Picasso’s Guernica is as arrogant as it is absurd, and that Henry Taylor’s kinship with Martin Maloney, of whom, Californian born, bred and working, he can hardly be aware, is merely another example of the internationalism of bad painting. Why must the critic waste his time struggling to discern purpose in such feeble rubbish?....

The Wallace Collection exhibits 37 academies on loan from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where there is a cache of more than 600 by 220 artists between 1664 and 1793. They are probably the best but I have seen many that are as good or better, drawn over a far longer period as well as by other nationalities — even at the Slade, Royal Academy and South Kensington (the precursor of the Royal College) Schools they were part of the discipline well into the 20th century. They are not rare, nor are they expensive; instead, they are a genre of old master drawing that even the most modest collector may collect, and as observations of body language I would rather have one fine academy than all the slipshod bodies now on view in the Saatchi Gallery. Sorry, Charles.…

[read the whole review here]

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Staten Island LGBT Center's exhibit up through Dec. 9

Ingrid Capozzoli Flinn’s "Nude on Pillow" is
part of the "Women Look at Women" exhibit
curated by Robert Bunkin at the Staten Island LGBT Center
in Tompkinsville. (Courtesy the artist)

"Women Look at Women"


By Rob Bailey / Staten Island Advance 

 TOMPKINSVILLE — "Women Look at Women," the late fall show at the Staten Island LGBT Community Center, has a complicated subtext about female artists looking at women and producing different results, unavailable to other genders.

It's easy to just assume there will be differences even if they're hard to see, no? What isn't debatable is that femaleness has obsessed artists for thousands of years, ever since that handy Neanderthal chipped a rock into a recognizably feminine form. (And who's to say, by the way, that this Neanderthal wasn't female...)...[more]

Friday, November 22, 2013

On the Lighter Side of Naked



Sweden got talent - Naked guys dancing!

Maybe I should write a serious cultural piece analyzing why this is funny, but I can't stop laughing.

Some may think this is off topic, but to me, it is vintage. It is exactly on topic for Body Language: Art, Biology and Culture. 

Enjoy! 




Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Nude Artworks Censored In Berlin Due To Religious Sensitivity

Huffpost Arts & Culture

A recent incident of art censorship in Berlin has sparked a debate about the difference between art and pornography, as well as the importance of artistic freedom versus religious sensitivity.

According to the American Foreign Press [AFP], an adult education center removed a series of six nude paintings in an attempt to acknowledge and respect Muslim religious beliefs.

The school's deputy head feared the works may shock Muslim students and prevent them from attending class. The school is located nearby a newly established refugee center, which draws immigrants and asylum-seekers to the once mostly German-born region.

by Berlin artist Susanne Schueffel
 The decision was immediately critiqued by some as an unnecessary precaution and an inhibitor to artistic freedom. District council member Juliane Witt aptly expressed how the decision could not only negatively affect the artists and German students, but the Muslim students as well. "If you do something to protect someone, then you are defining them," she told the AFP, "and that can be stigmatizing."  [more]

Friday, November 15, 2013

Snite exposes the French Academy - South Bend Tribune: Eventnews

Snite exposes the French Academy - South Bend Tribune: Eventnews


By EVAN GILLESPIE SBT Correspondent  

When we think about the French Academy, if we think about it at all, we tend to think of it as the great limiter of art, the oppressive institution that tried to stifle innovation and hold the fine arts in historical limbo for centuries.

Charles Gleyre’s “Study For ‘The Departure of the
Apostles’ ” is one of the works featured in the exhibit
“The Academy Exposed: French Figure Studies” through
Dec. 22 at the University of Notre Dame’s Snite
  Museum of Art.

That role, historically accurate or not, is essential for the standard narrative of Modern art history; how would we define the Realists and the Impressionists if not by the traditions they were acting against? We think less often about the Academy as a basic educator, a place where young artists learned the fundamentals of their craft. A small show currently up at the Snite Museum of Art helps us to see the French Academy in that simpler role.

[more]

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