Thursday, February 19, 2015

MFA 3: Naked or Nude?

Good work.  You found the Kokoschka painting.  

John Berger argues that the nude is a convention, that to be naked is to be oneself, but to be nude is to become an object.

Are the figures in this painting naked or nude?  Talk about this question and your reasons for your answer with your partner.  Using the Layar app, vote on whether they are naked or nude. 

Now, if you are facing the painting, look to your right.  You will see Matisse's CarmelinaUsing the Strategies for Reading to help you talk about the works, as well as considering the 3 levels of Relations of Looking (gazes within the work, the artist's at the work/subject of the work, and your gaze), discuss how Matisse portrays the nude.

Is she naked or nude?  You can tweet your response to @loirl and with the hashtag #viscult15

Move through the museum to another area that interests you.  Look for paintings and sculptures of nudes or bodies that prompt interesting conversation about the topic of naked or nude?  How do representations change over time? With different styles and mediums?

Berger's book (and the video series it comes from) is from 1972.  Are his ideas still relevant today, forty years later?  Make sure you look in the Contemporary Art gallery on the second floor of the Linde Wing (above where we come in when we enter as a group).  In contemporary art, do “men act, and women appear,” as Berger asserts?

Finally, perform the experiment that Berger suggests at the end of his chapter on the nude, but with a painting or sculpture from the museum. 

Now comment here about the paintings and sculptures you discussed with your partner, and what your overall conclusions are about Berger's ideas. Topics to include (plus anything other insights): what works you examined, how did you decide whether naked or nude, is Berger still relevant, how representations change over time, Berger’s experiment.

1 comment:

  1. I am commenting for TEAM KATE & GYAN. We evaluated multiple images at the museum today and incorporated Berger's concept. We also attempted Berger’s exercise of visualizing the nude woman as a man to see if violence comes into play in the image. We started off the trip looking at Kokoschka's painting "Two Nudes". This painting is abstract and an impression of an emotional event. The woman’s eyes are gazing into the distance as if she is yearning to leave the man. The outside viewer (us) are looking up at the painting, seeing the background, minimal foreground and mainly the two nude characters. The characters are definitely nude because they are objects for the viewer to look at. The way the colors of green, teal and purple are separated from each other in the background of the painting is similar to the feeling of the two lovers in the painting, separating. The painter is not trying to capture reality, but the rawness of the movement and moment of the two nude lovers.
    We also looked at “Reclining Nude” by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and applied John Berger’s concept and exercise to this painting. One concept from Chapter 3 of Berger’s book depicted in this painting is that “Men Act, Woman Appear”. This painting is an Expressionists ideal. The woman is propped on the stool as if she has nothing better to do than to be lusted over. For the exercise- if a man were placed in this same position in a photo it would be very odd. The bodylines would be harsh and not be as curvy. The man would appear to be taking a form of action instead of a resting state. We believe Berger’s concepts are still relevant to art.