In 1972 writer John Berger and producer Mike Dibb created a four-part television series called ‘Ways of Seeing’, which rapidly became regarded as one of the most influential art programmes ever made. The series (later adapted into a book) criticize traditional Western cultural aesthetics by raising questions about hidden ideologies in visual images.
In the first programme, Berger examines the impact of photography on our appreciation of art from the past.
A large part of seeing depends upon habit and convention
Ways of seeing #2 (1972)
the portrayal of the female nude is an important part of the tradition of European art. Berger examines these paintings and asks whether they celebrate women as they really are or only as men would like them to be.
The nude in European painting convey some conventions in the way women were judged, in how they were seen (in society run by men).
What is a nude? Kenneth Clark: Being naked is being without clothes. The nude is a form of art.
John Berger: To be naked is to be oneself. To be nude is to be seen naked by others and yet not recognized for oneself. A nude has to be seen as an object in order to be nude.
Naked and shame. Shame towards to spectator: that the one who shames them.
Nude an awareness of being seen by the spectator.
Mirror symbol as vanity of woman.
Most female nudes in Western art history have been lined-up by their painters for the pleasure of the male spectator/owner who will assess and judge them as sights. Their nudity is another form of dress.
Passiveness: Nakedness is a sign of submission and not of active sexual love (in western oil paintings). Often looks and bodyposture is directed towards the spectator and is addressing his sexuality and not her sexuality. They are there to feed an appetite not to have one on their own. Being available and waiting for somebody.
Ideal nude as a humanist idealism. Celebrate women or the male voyeur.
Nudity as a garment and a uniform that says: i’m ready now for sexual pleasure.
Yes, that urinal – “an icon of twentieth-century art” (tate.org), “the loo that shook the world” (Independent). Reputedly Marcel Duchamp (Dada* hero) signed a mass produced urinal R.MUTT and, in a radical gesture in 1917, submitted it to an open exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists, New York, under the title Fountain. It was rejected in what is now seen as a crucial turning point in art. Since then it has been celebrated (and castigated!) as the starting point for all the subsequent installation and conceptual artwork that dominates contemporary art today.
But, as a convincing article in this November’s Art Newspaper argues, Duchamp stolethis iconic act from fabulous Dada poet and artist Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven.
“When it comes to defending Barack against the charge that he’s not Black enough, I tell folk, ‘Well, I’ve know him for over fifteen years, and what I’ve noticed is that he’s proud of his race, but that doesn’t capture the range of his identity. He’s rooted in, but not restricted by his Blackness‘” (quote by Michael Eric Dyson in the forword of “Who’s afraid of Post-Blackness” by Touré).
“In 2006 schreven Meta Knol, Edwin Jacobs en Stijn Huijts het manifest Naar een mondig museum. Hierin gaven zij aan dat de Nederlandse kunstwereld werd gedomineerd door het ‘egocentrisme en het dominante, westerse etnocentrisme’. Acht jaar later, geeft Meta Knol[…] nu directeur van De Lakenhal, aan dat ‘er zich een steeds beter besef ontwikkelt dat de gevolgen van globalisering in de kunsten onontkoombaar zijn. Het is een feit dat veel Nederlandse kunstinstellingen die boot al lang hebben gemist, en dat op dit terrein een stevige inhaalslag nodig is’.
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