Old and New Takes on the Female Nude / Hyperallergic

Malia Jensen, “Jungle/Woman (Captiva Suite)” (2013), archival pigment print on Hahnemuhle paper

Malia Jensen, “Jungle/Woman (Captiva Suite)” (2013), archival pigment print on Hahnemuhle paper

PORTLAND — Way back in 1989, the Guerrilla Girls called attention to the fact that less than 5% of the artists in Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Modern Art sections were female, but 85% of the nude works on display featured women. Twenty-five years later, it should be common practice not to create shows that are noninclusive, mostly white, and mostly male. But the patriarchy is still going strong, even in the liberal mecca that is Portlandia. The exhibitionUnveiled Nudes at Elizabeth Leach Gallery, although much smaller than the Modern Art galleries at the Met, harkens back to those statistics from 1989. In addition to being mostly white, the show contains work by eight artists, seven of which are male, depicting the favorite subject of art history past and present: the female nude. Here, more than 85% of the artists are male, and 100% of the work on display is nude women.

Abstract Expressionist sculptor David Smith’s “untitled” (1964) enamel-on-canvas painting is an abstracted woman’s body; he focuses mostly on her hands and feet in a drawing that feels loose and free in its strokes. Gaston Lachaise’s pencil-on-paper “Kneeling Nude” (no date) is a bulbous drawing of a thick, hour-glass-shaped woman, her watermelon-like breasts protruding as obliquely as her angular elbow. Matisse’s elegant “Nu assis les bras étendus” (1925) is a lithograph on japon paper of a nude woman, reclining, gazing off to the edge; she’s unrecognizable as a person but tangible as an art object. John Sloan’s “Nude on Red Velvet” (c. 1920) painting features a lush, plump white body splayed over a red cover, her rosy cheeks matching the color on which she reclines.

read the full story on Hyperallergic: http://hyperallergic.com/114092/old-and-new-takes-on-the-female-nude/