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The Naked Nude

Frances Borzello

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The story of the nude in art in our times, told by a popular art historian with a rare gift for sharing her passions and ideas.

The representation of the nude in art remained for many centuries a victory of fiction over fact. Beautiful, handsome, flawless – its great success was to distance the unclothed body from any uncomfortably explicit taint of sexuality, eroticism or imperfection. In this newly updated study, Frances Borzello contrasts the civilized, sanitized, perfected nude of Kenneth Clark’s classic, The Nude: A Study in Ideal Form (1956), with today’s depictions: raw, uncomfortable, both disturbing and intriguing. Grittier and more subtle, depicting variously gendered bodies, the new nude asks awkward questions and behaves provocatively. It is a very naked nude, created to deal with the issues and contradictions that surround the body in our time.

Borzello explores the role of the nude in twentieth- and twenty-first-century art, looking at the work of a wide range of international artists creating contemporary nudes. Her fascinating text is complemented by a profusion of well-chosen, unusual and beautifully reproduced illustrations. The story begins with a tale of life, death and resurrection – an investigation into how and why the nude has survived and flourished in an art world that prematurely announced its demise. Subsequent chapters take a thematic approach, focusing in turn on Body art and Performance art, the new perspectives of women artists, the nude in painting, portraiture and sculpture and in its most extreme and graphic expressions that intentionally push the boundaries of both art and our comfort zone. The final chapter illustrates radical developments in art and culture over the last decade, focusing in particular on artworks by women, trans artists and artists of colour. Borzello links these works to their art-historical and political predecessors, demonstrating the continually unending capacity of the nude to disrupt traditional hierarchies and gender categories in life and art.

Frances Borzello is an art historian and the author of several books, including A World of Our Own: Women as Artists, Seeing Ourselves: Women’s Self-Portraits and At Home: The Domestic Interior in Art, all published by Thames & Hudson.

Publisher
Thames and Hudson Ltd
ISBN
9780500296677
Binding
Paperback
Page Extent
224
Weight (kg)
0.48
Height (in)
22.9
Width (in)
15.2
Subject
Art , Art Reference, History & Theory
Published Date
18 / 08 / 2022

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