The Naked Nude

Frances Borzello

The Naked Nude
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The Naked Nude

Frances Borzello

The representation of the nude in art remained for many centuries a victory of fiction over fact. Beautiful, handsome, flawless - its great success was to distance the unclothed body from any uncomfortably explicit taint of sexuality, eroticism or imperfection. In this fluent and engaging new study, Frances Borzello contrasts the civilized, sanitized, perfected artistic nude of Kenneth Clark’s classic, The Nude: A Study in Ideal Form (1956), with today’s depictions: raw, uncomfortable, both disturbing and intriguing. Grittier and more subtle, both male and female, the new nude asks awkward questions and behaves provocatively. It is a very naked nude, created to deal with the issues and contradictions that surround the body in our time. Borzello explores the role of the nude in 20th- and 21st-century art, looking at the work of a wide range of international artists creating contemporary nudes. Her fascinating text is complemented by a profusion of well-chosen, unusual and beautifully reproduced illustrations. The story begins with a tale of life, death and resurrection - an investigation into how and why the nude has survived and flourished in an art world that prematurely announced its demise. Subsequent chapters take a thematic approach, focusing in turn on Body art and Performance art, the new perspectives of women artists, the nude in painting, portraiture and sculpture and in its most extreme and graphic expressions that intentionally push the boundaries of both art and our comfort zone. A skilled communicator with an ability to make us want to look at art and think anew about it, Borzello has much to say about modern art and about our contemporary and historical cultural fixation with the body and the nude.

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