Part 4 – Research – The Nude

In the Beginning…

Early roots via the Greeks with their idealised body forms but where the male figure is nearly always heroic and often the female denoting victim hood (Sanders 1989). However the Greeks thought nakedness mainly attached to nobility whereas by the time Christinaity took hold this was attributed to shame or sin – via the biblical story of Adam and Eve.

Quoted by Sanders (1989) Aristotle claimed:-

“Man is active, full of movement, creative in politics, business and culture.   The male shapes and moulds society and the world.   Woman, on the other hand is passive.   She stays at home as is her nature.   She is matter waiting to be formed and moulded by the active male principle.” 

In the modern sense “men act and women appear” (Berger 1972)

Throughout the classical period and up until the 19th century the female nude; “may avert her gaze or hide her eyes, or turn away from  the viewer…..Sometimes the head may be covered, or perhaps unfinished , even cut off from the edge of the picture – all these devices render their subject anonymous, denying individuality and status, and reducing the body to a stereotype”. (Sanders  p24)

A few photographs collected from recent Daily Mail (May 2017) online images attest to the fact that little has changed.


An idealised posterior?   Or a subject of debate?


or fashion….


Boticelli (1445 – 1510)

Raphaël_-_Les_Trois_Grâces_-_ Raphael (1483 – 1520) 

Courbet 2

Courbet – The Origin of the World (1866)

Understanding the Body

Rembrant – Madrid


Rembrant anatomy lesson Part of the lost Anatomy Lesson

Rembrant anatomy 2  Rembrant detail (detail)

Bologna Istituto di Anatomia Umana Normale

1 2 4 3

Edward Muybridge (1830 – 1904)

EM 1  EM 2  EM 3

The Fetishised Female

(the nude a new perspective – Sanders)


Bill Brandt (1904 – 1983)

BB 1  BB 2  BB 3

Richard Pearlstein

phillip pearlstein     phillip pearlstein 2

Regain Our Bodies

Jenny Saville

download (2)   download (1)

The feminist view

…Or Not

Euan Uglow

Euan Uglow 1  downloadEuan Uglow 2

Euan Uglow 3  Euan Uglow 4

Back to academia?



Part 4 – Figure & Head – Research- Personal Observations

pontorno 1  pontorno 2

I have recently been introduced to the stunning drawings by Pontormo a Renaissance artist  (1494 – 1557) whose beautiful expressive images use line in a very particular way – half there – not there with tonal values added that show an extensive understanding of anatomy.

shiele 2  schiele 1  schiele 3

Leaping through the years the anguished lines of Egon Schiele depict his own searching for accuracy and engangement via his numerous self-portraits.   However as shown by the drawing on the right he was capable of exceptional accurate sculptural studies too.

Kathe Kollowitz 1

KK 2  I have also been drawn to the work of Kathe Kollowitz whose many images particularly of mothers and children evoke a caring kind of intimacy which I admire.


FA 4  And Frank Auerbach’s expressive excursions of images of particularly the face.   The overworking and layering using eccentric marks and materials.

Piet Peere

PP 2   Finally in the drawings I enjoy the work of contemporary artist Piet Peere.  Here Anatomy is carved in a different way tonally as opposed to lineal marks by Auerbach.

What I want to Say about Bodies

If I look at the different work above and the styles of the artists I am struck by how I am drawn to two opposing energies.   The strong individual lines and marks that are Schiele and Auerbach.  In contrast the careful tonal weight and intimacy of the bodies by Pontormo and Peete among others.

This is the ambiguity I experience when I am working on a drawing.   Working fast and innately or working slower thinking the structures , relationships, and form.  It is also the experience of my own relationship to my body, being female, daughter, mother, grandmother…..there is often, always (conscious or unconsciously) the pull and push of the two sides – energies which are nurturing and those which are wilder, more destructive perhaps, certainly physical.   Energies that even yet require the testing of boundaries and limits.

Self Portrait

Moving through the exercises I am surprised by how much I am drawn to the self portrait.   Capturing the intimacy with oneself at the same time as knowing you are going to be observed – viewed is challenging.   Do I want to appear better than I am – what is better?   Younger, less double chin and drooping jowls.  Actually I realise this is the one place I can be totally honest.   Not driven by acceptable presentation of the self to the work as in social media, advertising, celebrity driven guidelines.

You can only be an acceptable older woman if you are Helen Mirren, Judy Dench, Jane Fonda etc. ….  Talented, slim, tweeked.   I love my long grey hair – the only time I have had long hair in my life.   I am thinking of a 65+ year old version of Munch…


Strange when I found this again I was surprised that it was not as I remember it.   The figure less erotic, the hair less evocative of  looseness, sexuality.  It wasn’t until I looked it up that I realised that this is called Madonna.   To my non Christian background this was not obvious……       His work has been described as “psychological talisman”( which I think is what interests me about the work. Immediately I am thinking about Cindy Sherman’s historic images series…..

Cindy_Sherman_historic_portrait_-222_1990 cindy sherman historic portrait 2

and Henrik Kerstens iconic plastic bags ……

historic portrait with plastic bag henrik kerstens 2 henrik kerstens 3



Part 3 – Reflections 3 – Assignment 3

Thoughts on the context and content of the Assignment 3 pieces.

Matisse table

matisse table


Raul Duffy – Little Palm Tree

When I had decided to work on the image of the garden I was thinking of the tables and chairs as they appear in many of the impressionist and post-impressionist paintings.   The only difference is that these seem mainly to have been painted in high summer or at least in strong light.

I wanted to feature the table which had erupted over the winter and was trailing its edge, the surface now undulating with damp.   On top of this is the pot with a plant that is just stem and no leaves.  Finally there is the bare earth in parts of the border.

revised view Assignment 3

Since this photograph was taken there was a big storm during which the pot fell and broke and the table has now been taken to the dump!  Transitions.   In a way this is what I think the whole of this Part 3 has been about – getting me out and re-connecting to the outside world.   In some areas this has had a strong response and in others i.e. buildings no response at all.

Also I suppose there was context and personal connection in the assignment piece but it does not come through as strongly as in the last 2 assignments I think.


  • A lot of frustrations which sometimes pushed me on to do things I would not have previously undertaken
  • Re-connecting to outside, trees, nature, landscape etc. personal places
  • Need for greater planning and thought in preparation for going out to draw
  • Still struggling with keeping work fresh and spontaneous
  • Challenging myself to use different materials and combination of materials.
  • Necessary to undertake more time planning at beginning of the modules so that I can fit in reading and research in a more structured way
  • More patience – I can’t achieve everything at once – but keep trying!
  • Stay open to opportunities and my responses to subject matter
  • Keep more notes on what rises to my consciousness – it doesn’t have to fit.


Part 3 – Project 5 – Townscapes – Research

John Virtue

John Virtue - The Oxo Tower



Working as an associate at the National Gallery he concentrated in his usual style of black and white on the landscape of London.   His cityscapes are very similar in feel to his landscapes and seascapes.

Frank Auerbach

Frank Auerbach who is particularly known for his paintings and drawings of heads has also unrelentingly drawn the scene around his studio in Mornington Crescent London for the last 40 years plus.   Unlike his heads and figures these appear to be painted very quickly with broad strokes and striking colours.   Structurally they are strong but also represent the very hig-ildy pig-idly area where it is not always possible to pick out individual buildings or structures.

Auerbach urban painting

Mornington Crescent - Summer Morning - Frank Auerbach

Nisja Nisja

This Polish artist currently living in Amsterdam.   Again it is the structure, textures and her use of colours that she brings to a largely unpopulated canvas that I particularly enjoy.

Nisja Nisja red factory

Snowscape-With-House Nisja Nisja

Angela Wakefield

An English painter working exclusively in urban environments here and abroad.



Strong colours and dynamic perspective adds drama to her urban scenes.


I am drawn to both the dynamism of some of the urban painters particularly Virtue and Auerbach.   But equally there is something very engaging in the stark shapes of Nisja’s work.

My thoughts are that you can choose whether to evoke the energy of a cityscape or the alienation.    This is the choice of the artist as always.

Part 3 – Project 3 – Research Point

page 68

Seurat & Dean





  • Both are tonal drawings using black and white/paper colour
  • Probably both drawings are made from the perspective of the viewer


  • In terms of scale Tacita Dean’s drawing is epic and comes from a series where she had developed a series over several floors of the gallery and the drawings reflect the perspective of the viewer as down in the valley, opposite the mountains and looking down on the mountains.
  • Dean therefore breaks up foreground, middle ground and back ground into 3 different drawings.
  • Dean’s drawing is on blackboard so developing light out of darkness as opposed to Seurat where darkness/tone is developed from the neutral tone of the paper itself which is light.
  • DEan’s drawing has multiple subtulties of tone whereas Seurat has far fewer.

David Korty



I really like this series by Korty where line and mark have become surface and planes.   They also depict shapes and tone in a different way.   They are somewhat reminiscent of  some of Van Gogh’s drawing where the mark making of pen is taken to a very sophisticated level.


Marcel Odenbach


Another interesting series using collage as a drawing technique.   The spaces are as important as the trees themselves built up in layers of tonal variance.



This one reminds me a little of the trunk of the tree which I chose to draw in detail.



Jeremy Gardiner


I had not come across this painter before but very much like his bold block like collage technique for building up the layers of the landscape.


The way the compositions border on the abstract is engaging.


Strong forms where line is almost eliminated.