Local writers have been repurposing Kenneth Clark’s 1958 differentiation of the nude from naked in discussing the current exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW – Nude : Art from the Tate Collection. Although Clark made the distinction in most elegant terms, we are probably less interested in that distinction now than in the ‘50s. Perhaps the question in most peoples minds would be: Nude, Naked or Sexy?
This exhibition presents over 100 representations of the nude (or naked) in paintings, sculptures, photographs and prints by many famous artists including Lucien Freud (of course) and Picasso. Pierre Bonnard’s The bath (1925) seems to depict a suitable case for the coroner, while Louise Bourgeois’ 2007 painting Femme makes a good case for hair conditioner. Sylvia Sleigh’s Paul Rosano reclining (‘74) may disturb the sensitive, while Ron Mueck’s huge sculpture Wild Man (2005) may make some avoid intimacy for life. There is a beautiful Matisse Draped nude (‘36) and quite a number of pretty pictures including William Strang’s The temptation (1899) and John Currin’s Honeymoon Nude (‘98). All these, except Mueck’s, are paintings, yet visitors may conclude that sculpture is the most sensual of media. This is dramatically and satisfyingly exemplified in Auguste Rodin’s The kiss from 1904. Never before has this most famous image of erotic love, from the Tate, left Europe. You have until Feb 5.
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