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Indepth Arts News:

"Nothing But Nudes: Selections from the Permanent Collection"
2000-03-17 until 2000-05-14
Milwaukee Art Museum
Milwaukee, WI, USA United States of America

Throughout the entire history of art, the nude figure has been a primary carrier of both ideal form and human expression. As a subject for art, the nude is essentially Western, emerging in Greece before the 5th century. For the Greeks, the nude -- apart from its celebration of physical beauty -- expressed the nobility and potential of the human spirit. However in later Christian theology nakedness became a symbol of shame and guilt, the outward sign of sins of the flesh. The art of the Renaissance, by contrast, reverted to classical ideals and precedents -- the nude as a measure of man and God's creation while the Baroque period sought a more naturalistic and sensual representation of the nude. From the Rococo period through modern times, the nude has remained constant as a subject of art but with a variety of interpretations.

he exhibition Nothing But Nudes: Selections from the Permanent Collection reveals not only the many roles of the nude in art but also the depth of the museum's holdings. Including works from all media painting and sculpture, works on paper, photographs and decorative arts, and drawn from the entire range of the museum's collections from 6th century B.C. Greek vases to Old Master paintings to the most recent of contemporary art the exhibition reflects the changing meaning of the nude through the centuries.

The exhibition groups work across media and time periods, according to certain categories of intention or effect. Among the groupings are The Nude as Ideal Form, with examples ranging from a Greek kylix and a voluptuous Pierre-Auguste Renoir to one of Robert

Mapplethorp's male nudes. The Nude and Sexuality will include Claude Michel Clodion's 18th-century Bacchic sculpture, Ludwig Knaus' 19th-century academic nude and photographs by Hans Bellmer and Brassaï. The Nude and Human Expression will extend from master prints to works by the German Expressionists to prints by Francis Bacon and Louise Bourgeois.

Among the other categories are The Nude in Nature, The Nude in Art, The Nude and Reality and The Nude Abstracted. Groupings of the nude as exotic, model and portrait round out the exhibition. Many surprising juxtapositions and new relationships among works in the collection emerge, describing a remarkably full range of what the nude has meant as both subject and form through history.

Other artists in the exhibition of almost 100 works include Albrecht Dürer, Adriaen van der Werff, Edward Manet, Auguste Rodin, Henri Matisse, Gaston Lachaise, Edward Weston, Willem de Kooning, Harry Callahan, Eric Fischl and Kiki Smith just a few of the names that reflect the exceptionally wide range and unexpected relationships offered by this exhibiztion. Nothing But Nudes is a celebration of the human body, its multi-dimensional meaning in art, and the power of the museum's permanent collection to tell the story.

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