My last example is The Nude in a Red Armchair by Pablo Picasso painted in 1932.
I knew the topic that I wanted to look at in detail at how the attitude towards female nudity has changed. I started off by exploring the piece itself before moving in depth about the issue surrounding it.
Again my first port of call was to look at the explanation on the Tate Modern website for the series of work entitled The Reclining Nude. This explained the overall context surrounding the work in the room and the new sexual openness that emerged in the early 1900’s. It led on to describe the link with Freud and his link to dreams and the “repressed subconcious drives” ( http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/display/reclining-nude) bringing us back to the exhibition title.
Along with this, this summary discussed how Picasso felt about the nude. His work usually comments on his own relationships with women, The Nude in a Red Armchair being of his lover Marie-Thérèse Walter. The painting contains underlying playfulness and erotic themes. His paintings of nudes are “charged with physical energy” ( http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/display/reclining-nude)
This led me to briefly explore Picasso’s Women by Roy MacGregor Hastie, however although this resource was in depth and informative, I was more interested in exploring the overall context and painting rather than focussing on relationship between Marie- Thérèse and Picasso.
Again I completed a study of the image itself, taking from it the colours used and how the body of the women is and what movements are seen in the image.
Although I have not looked at Picasso’s relationship with Marie-Thérèse I still wanted to explore Picasso as a painter and the style employed.
Both the websites, http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2011/05/picasso-mistress-201105 and http://deyoung.famsf.org/blog/picasso-women-behind-artist highlight the voluptuous figure of Marie-Thérèse and her strong features from which Picasso created sensual portraits and sculpture. http://deyoung.famsf.org/blog/picasso-women-behind-artist takes us back to surrealism, Picasso’s movement in which the site explains Picasso’s exploration of the human figure in both physical and psychological states and the employment of the imagination and the distortion of the human form linking back to Surrealism.
Along with this I studied an article I have found on Discover published by the Daily Mail in March 2012 titled How Picasso who called all women goddesses or doormats drove his lovers to despair and even suicide with his cruelty and betrayal by A.Venning. ( http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2111329/How-Picasso-called-women-goddesses-doormats-drove-lovers-despair-suicide-cruelty-betrayal.html) This article discussed Picasso’s relationship towards women. I took from this article the way in which he painted Marie-Thérèse with more tenderness and passion than other women in his life.
I then went on to look at how society sees the nude model. I found an academic source by a University Professor from the Open University in Scotland. In her document titled “The Nude in Art- A Brief History”, she takes us on a journey through how the nude has developed in an art context. This started with looking at Greek Art in the Classical Period and takes us on until artists such as Jenny Saville. This resource is very concrete and looks in depth as such a wide range I found it difficult to pick out exactly would be useful to what I wanted to say. I took out in particular points about the female and being seen as a symbol of fertility, the attitude shown towards female models as opposed to male models, new ways in which the female nude was displayed and finally with the era of Picasso how the female nude became a popular figure.
This led me to looking a bit at pornography and how this is another depiction of the female nude. I used Encyclopaedia Britannica Research Starter on Pornography written by C.Sprague in 2009. This enabled me to get a factual view on Pornography and the different views towards it in an academic source. I found out it is 90% directed towards the heterosexual, white, middle class male. It has also been in existence for many years and has popularity across a range of cultures.
Further into the document the Feminist views on Pornography are discussed such as the issue of rape and how harmful is pornography as a overall query. This also looked at the views of Radical or Cultural Feminists who feel Pornography portrays women as objects. The differences between liberal and radical feminists on the topic of Pornography are in the majority of cases opposites, this includes outlawing Pornography and also the way in which women can take pleasure from it.
My last research on this topic was a recent news article about Edinburgh Airports banning on the painting The Nude in a Red Armchair in the terminal. I found two articles relating to this subject. The first is by The Scotland Blog part of The Guardian Newspaper written in 2012 by S.Carrell titled Edinburgh Airport commits basic volunteer by banning Picasso Nude and the second from the BBC on the 8th August 2012 titled Edinburgh Airport in Picasso nude complaints U-turn.
These two articles highlighted the events leading up to the banning of the piece The Nude in a Red Armchair shown in Edinburgh Airport advertising the Picasso Exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Receiving many complaints the poster was removed from its position at the International Arrivals gate just to be reinstated days later. The same image had been used on the London Underground with no complaints whatsoever. John Leighton, the director general of the National Galleries of Scotland stated
It is obviously bizarre that all kinds of images of women in various states of dress and undress can be used in contemporary advertising without comment, but somehow a painted nude by one of the world’s most famous artists is found to be disturbing and has to be removed.
This idea is something I want to include in my essay to highlight the challenges that the female body faces today in Popular Culture