April 19, 2018

"Who’s Afraid of the Female Nude? Paintings of naked women, usually by clothed men, are suddenly sitting very uncomfortably on gallery walls."

By Michael Slenske and Molly Langmuir (New York Magazine)(interesting artwork at the link — warning: nudes!!):
While feminist art critics have for decades pointed out the shortcomings of the “male gaze,” the post-#MeToo reckoning with the art world’s systemic sexism, its finger-on-the-scale preference for male genius, has given that critique a newly powerful force. And the question of the moment has become: Is it still an artistically justifiable pursuit for a man to paint a naked woman?...

For emerging artists, there is the fear of a possibly career-derailing gestalt fail. “I’ve been in conversations with other [male artists], and they were just like, ‘I quit working with the figure. I’m only doing abstract work, because I don’t want to touch it,’ ” says Marty Schnapf while walking me through his recent solo show “Fissures in the Fold” at Wilding Cran Gallery in Los Angeles. He thinks we could be living through “a new Victorian age”....
IN THE COMMENTS: JPS said: "Who knew John Ashcroft was so woke?"

51 comments:

Sebastian said...

Like the old Victorian age. The purpose of culture is to protect the ladies, the point of civilization is to tame men. As predictably reactionary feminists now advocate.

But they must reckon with the unintended consequences. Painting female nudes was an outlet for male "genius." Turning sex into art tamed instincts. Imposing prohibitions on its current equivalents may make things worse.

Catherine McKinnon was ahead of her time [an expression I'd like to see Althouse deconstruct].

rhhardin said...

Picasso stopped painting nudes when he lost interest in sex.

Fernandinande said...

"for emerging artists, there is the fear of "

...Other artists.

JPS said...

Who knew John Ashcroft was so woke?

Bill R said...

A new Victorian age.

Kinda. We revived prudery, snobbery, and hypocrisy but forgot patriotism, community, religion, and family.

A bad bargain all around, I'd say.

gspencer said...

Lots of pictures of naked ladies on the internet.

rhhardin said...

A woman painting a woman doesn't know where the magic is. A guy does.

Lewis Wetzel said...

He thinks we could be living through “a new Victorian age”.
Queen Victoria's passion for nudity goes on display in new art exhibition
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/art-news/7228202/Queen-Victorias-passion-for-nudity-goes-on-display-in-new-art-exhibition.html
Many educated people have incorrect ideas about the Victorian age. They seemed to have learned about it from watching historical dramas produced in the late 20th century.

Lewis Wetzel said...

I suppose it is okay to paint a nude woman, as long as you use a brush and not finger paint. I think that was done back in the 60s, though.

Anonymous said...

Pretty predictable, no? The Rokeby Slasher was just a bit ahead of her time.

Imagine a future dystopia where the Vatican Museums, serendipitously overlooked by the Red Guards, are the only places left where one can see the last remaining glorious works of nude painting and sculpture. If you're an Inner Party member, that is.

Anonymous said...

Lewis Wetzel: Many educated people have incorrect ideas about the Victorian age.

Many educated people have incorrect ideas about anything that happened prior to the day before yesterday.

FIDO said...

The Left is violating their own principles. Quelle Surprise.

FIDO said...

SUPPOSEDLY educated people, Angle-Dyne

buwaya said...

They had plenty of nude models in the 19th century.
Artists and their models were important parts of the demimonde.

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

“Blogger gspencer said...
Lots of pictures of naked ladies on the internet.”

And that’s the real absurdity of this. It’s like complaining about the quality of garbage pickup services while your town is being carpet bombed. But some people make a living out of ignoring reality.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

No remorse for the sheriff and his eye ain't right
I'ma paint his town red then paint his wife white, uh!


Kid Rock

Sebastian said...

Nudity is the new laughter. (Hide Aristotle's book on the subject.)

tcrosse said...

Anything a Feminist cannot do well is not worth doing by a Man.

The Drill SGT said...

Next step: Let's go burn some paintings!!

the 4chan Guy who reads Althouse said...

So, like you can't put up a painting of some fat chick from the 1800s now without someone being offended? Because, in most of the famous paintings of nude chicks that I've seen, the chicks just aren't that hot. And if they're not that hot then it must be art, because why else would you paint them?

Maybe the fat chicks were considered hot then, things change, but even their faces aren't real pretty, so, again, I think that means art.

Because if hot naked chicks are art, then 4chan is, like, a museum. And maybe pictures of chicks spreading their ass cheeks and showing their assholes is, like, a statement about some important shit.

I mean, maybe it's a thing about that Male Gaze shit: like, a chick says, "you want to see me naked, then here, look at my asshole." Because in most of those photos you can't even see their tits.

But chicks don't get that naked is naked to a dude. And maybe that guy who splattered paint for his pictures was on to something: not a lot of oppressed people should be offended by that.

But then maybe there are people who are offended by it, because maybe it culturally appropriates some other race that spilled their paint and shit, like maybe spilling paint wasn't originally an American thing. I guess it probably comes down to a lot of people spilled paint, it just matters which dude first called it art.

I think the American artist dude was named Jackson Pollack. I might've spelled the name wrong, I'm not sure if it's spelled like the dudes from Poland or the frozen fish.

I post my shit here.

Caligula said...

Ray Bradbury is dead. What is the temperature at which paint burns?

You can't write this, you can't say that, you can't paint this, you can't show that.

Soon we'll be left with no culture other than exquisitely PC Disney-ized product. And even then, it will have to be contemporary Disney, as only contemporary works can meet ever-changing standards of political acceptability (and "contemporary" will have to mean "produced no more than two years ago").

""Now let's take up the minorities in our civilization, shall we? Bigger the population, the more minorities. Don't step on the toes of the dog-lovers, the cat-lovers, doctors, lawyers, merchants, chiefs, Mormons, Baptists, Unitarians, second-generation Chinese, Swedes, Italians, Germans, Texans, Brooklynites, Irishmen, people from Oregon or Mexico. The people in this book, this play, this TV serial are not meant to represent any actual painters, cartographers, mechanics anywhere. The bigger your market, Montag, the less you handle controversy, remember that! All the minor minor minorities with their navels to be kept clean. Authors, full of evil thoughts, lock up your
typewriters. They did." -- Beatty's Speech to Montag, Fahrenheit 451.

BarrySanders20 said...

“I see young male artists today painting the female body as if the last 30 years of feminist theory never happened. That gets me furious.”

I painted a picture in my head of a fully clothed feminist stomping her foot.

Bilwick said...

Re the Victorian Age, as has been pointed out, nudes in paintings were fairly common. Often they were illustrations of mythological or classical themes, which may have been a way for the artists to "get away with it" under the watchful eye of Mrs. Grundy. I've read a couple of lavishly-illustrated coffee-table books of Victorian paintings, and I was surprised (given the connotations of "Victorian") how sensual many of the nudes were. Those artists really knew how to do skin tones.

Molly said...


From the article, "feminist art critics have for decades pointed out the shortcomings of the “male gaze,” the post-#MeToo reckoning with the art world’s systemic sexism, its finger-on-the-scale preference for male genius".

In March 2018, the National Museum of Women in the Arts launched a campaign called “Can You Name Five Women Artists?”

When I saw that, I took it as a challenge and came up with Mary Cassat, Frieda Kahlo, Georgia O'Keefe, Helen Frankenthaler, Dorthea Lange, and Diane Arbus. A friend challenged me: two are famous as paramours of male artists, and two are photographers. (And is Frankenthaler more famous than her boyfriend Motherwell?) And when I turned to Wikipedia, I realized that they haven't done much better -- it's difficult to name more female artists without adding more photographers or performance artists.

Lewis Wetzel said...

I'm pretty sure that in Saudi Arabia painting nude female models or displaying painting of nude women will get you whipped. Time for the US to get with the program!

robother said...

But to quote our Pulitzer Prize-winning rapper:

If I gotta slap a pussy-ass nigga, I'ma make it look sexy
If I gotta go hard on a bitch, I'ma make it look sexy

Black Artistes trump Feminist bitches every time.

Wince said...

Paintings of naked women, usually by clothed men...

So, it'd be better if the male painter is nude?

Harvey Weinstein, right now in his open robe, is saying "I should have gone into painting rather than film!"

Ann Althouse said...

"A woman painting a woman doesn't know where the magic is. A guy does."

I don't want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic.

An old Marlon Brando line.

Ann Althouse said...

Speaking of magic, did you see in the news today about how David Copperfield had to reveal how he did a trick where 13 people disappear from the stage and reappear in the back of the theater? It turns out they close the curtain and lead the people out and around through a hallway and into the back to of theater. Who'd have thought!

Bilwick said...

Further to what I wrote about Victorian nudes, "4Chan" will be happy to know that most of the naked women in the paintings that I recall were indeed--at least by my standards (formed largely by PLAYBOY of the 1970s when the magazine was at its peak--"hot." All in the eye of the beholder, of course.

Chris N said...

This article was written by a(n):

Idiot Non-Idiot

***The Council For Acceptable Thought, Language, Action, Direction, and Youth (CATLADY) will review your answer. The Directed Youth Knowledge Enforcement (DYKE) team is standing by.

tcrosse said...

It turns out they close the curtain and lead the people out and around through a hallway and into the back to of theater.

Sure, that's what he told the court. Actually he causes the people to de-materialize, then tele-transports them to the back of the hall and re-materializes them. But that would be telling.

rhhardin said...

Next (2007) Sometimes the magic act is the real thing, and the theatrical front is just a cover.

buwaya said...

Ingres "Turkish Bath" might be the ultimate in 19th century nudes, maybe just because of the percentage of the picture composed of female bodies.

Ok, so they are a bit full-figured, but what a fantasy. It was good to be the Sultan.

Ken B said...

Entartete Kunst.

Temujin said...

This is one fucked up generation.

Gahrie said...

How long until we start hearing complaints that male artists are discriminating against women because they won't paint female nudes anymore?

Rosalyn C. said...

There is a long history of the celebration of the nude form in art, I'm thinking especially of Greek sculpture. But they celebrated the male nude as much as the female and I don't believe I've ever seen any confusion in Greek art between fine art and pornography. They weren't as hung up about sexuality, including homosexuality. And they were also considered a highly civilized and cultured society.

roesch/voltaire said...

I draw and paint figure studies of nude women and men as part of the training in the academic tradition along with many other subjects in clothing or fur,but am aware of the of the male gaze and try to work against it as Manet did in A Bar at the Folies-Bergare; the problem at least in Madison,is there are few places that will exhibit these figure studies. And there are artist like Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, whom I admire, who do stunning figurative work that doesn't rely on the nude.So yes there is a trend away from the nude as a central place in an artist's work-- no more Philip Pearlstein or Lucian Freud?--for awhile anyway, but I am sure the figure will still be part of the picture in both men and women's work.

Yancey Ward said...

Another obituary for the death parody.

Robert Cook said...

"‘I quit working with the figure. I’m only doing abstract work, because I don’t want to touch it,’ says Marty Schnapf...."

Well...that's dumb. You draw the nude figure thousands of times in different poses to develop knowledge and facility in depicting the figure. You paint the nude if you have an aesthetic purpose in mind. If you don't feel you can continue to "work with the figure," just have them wear clothes!

I drew from life for 25 years at the Art Students League of NYC, and after you've seen and drawn every variety of nude figure so many times, it actually becomes more interesting to draw clothed figures. There's so much more variety to be had, and it's fun to draw folds and creases in fabric, and the different shapes of shoes, hats, and other accoutrements.

MacMacConnell said...

“Fissures in the Fold” sounds like an artistic rendition of hemorrhoids.

n.n said...

Naked or nude? The latter is a silhouette of the former.

Pornographic or art? The latter emphasizes form over function.

An artistic nude will not even depict the nipple of a teenage girl, let alone normalize/promote sexual promiscuity, along with a wicked solution backstop to keep underage girls and boys sexually available and active. Social progress has produced clear and progressive consequences, and collateral damage, much of it lies beneath a layer of privacy.

exiledonmainstreet, green-eyed devil said...

Ann Althouse said...

Speaking of magic, did you see in the news today about how David Copperfield had to reveal how he did a trick where 13 people disappear from the stage and reappear in the back of the theater? It turns out they close the curtain and lead the people out and around through a hallway and into the back to of theater. Who'd have thought!

4/19/18, 9:50 AM

So he didn't make them magically vanish and reappear?

Althouse, you've ruined my day.

Next you'll be telling me that magicians really don't saw the lady in the box in half.

Bob Loblaw said...

I see young male artists today painting the female body as if the last 30 years of feminist theory never happened. That gets me furious.

I doubt young male artist give much thought to "30 years of feminist theory", and I hope that continues to be the case. Feminist theory is completely unmoored from reality.

BarrySanders20 said...

"Next you'll be telling me that magicians really don't saw the lady in the box in half."

That's correct. 30 years of feminist theory finally shows a concrete result. Now, when someone asks "What good is all that feminist theory anyway?" we can confidently reply that women are no longer sawn in half at magic shows.

walter said...

That woman is really..err..loving..that salad..

tim maguire said...

Michelangelo's David could not be reached for comment.

Probably hanging out with Rodin's Thinker.

Caligula said...

The saying was once, "Even a cat can look at a queen." But then the queen got feminist theory and it was off with the cat's head. Unless the cat was unusually attractive to the queen, of course. (And, yes, the cat should damn well know whether or not it possesses the requisite attractiveness before looking.)

After decades of boiling down morality to "consent," apparently we are to be taught that, no, you can't look at that model. Even if the model consented, and even if the looking is vicarious in that one is looking at an art work that depicts the model and not at the model herself.

What happens when we get past "you can't say that" to "you can't paint that" and finally reach, "and you can't look at that either if we disapprove of your doing so?"

Perhaps it's just long past time to call out these feminist theorists for the censorious bullies they all too obviously are?

Unknown said...

There is something about the female form that is simply captivating. Men not so much. All this bs about the "male gaze" is sickening. Do they want men to not be interested in women? Not to look? Sex makes the world go round and inspires men to build stuff.

Robert Cook said...

Artists should just paint what they want and ignore the tantrums of those who dislike what they're painting.