Lucian Freud created an entirely new genre in the depiction of the human figure. His ‘naked portraits’ present subjects as pure animal forms not dissimilar from inanimate still life objects, while at the same time rendering painted flesh with an extraordinary, penetrating humanity. ‘A Not So Still Life’ presents Freud’s late large paintings ‘Naked portrait in a red chair’ (1999) and ‘David and Eli’ (2003–4). By turns clinical and intimate, stark and tender, the works resulted from weeks of intense sitting by and scrutiny of the artist’s subjects. While the woman in the first portrait goes unnamed, the second picture identifies Freud’s two most constant companions: his long-time studio assistant and friend David Dawson, and his whippet Eli. Both paintings evidence Freud’s almost ruthless process of observation and forensic reckoning of the human body. “Living people interest me far more than anything else,” Freud stated. “I’m really interested in them as animals. The one thing about human animals is their individuality: liking to work from them naked is part of that reason, because I can see more.” Continue Reading
“Do women have to be naked to get into U.S museums?” When the feminist group Guerilla Girls asked this question in 1989, they pointed to an obvious but oddly glossed-over fact: history of art is full of naked people, most of them women. And if it weren’t for an art-historical tradition of viewing the unclothed figure as artfully, aesthetically, unerotically “nude”—rather than plain naked—the lofty halls of the Met would fall afoul of obscenity laws. Actually, why hasn’t it? On the occasion of No Clothes, Grace Coddington’s curated auction of nudes, we explore the difference between naked and nude and take a look at the history of the unclothed body.
Sharon Hayes political upheaval on view at Andrea Rosen Gallery. The exhibition expands and builds upon an established line of inquiry in Hayes’ work through her active mining of the intersection between history, politics and speech. Both the title of the exhibition and a new body of work, Fingernails on a black board investigate how voice acts as the embodied medium of speech. Hayes takes the 1977 National Women’s Conference in Houston, TX as a historical point of departure. The 1977 conference was a result of an executive order to assess the status of women in light of the United Nations proclaiming 1975 as International Women’s Year; New York Congresswoman Bella Abzug was appointed to head the conference. Following the conference, an extension was granted for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Having only been ratified by 35 states by the 1982 deadline, the amendment has never been passed.
Jim Skull creates fascinating, intricate sculptures, inspired by his namesake. These elaborate forms are produced using a range of materials; from rope, to papier-maché, tea bags or string. Each become his medium to be appropriated and transformed. He cites his inspiration as the strong cultural heritages of Africa, New Zealand, Asia, and Oceania. Ritual objects, historical relics and tribal symbols subtly weave their influence into his work. He is clearly marked by his travels and encounters, with each piece telling an understated story of adventure and exploration of ethnographic art representing traditional non-Western cultures Continue Reading