Let’s take a leap of time into the contemporary era; our era. Spearheaded by Marcel Duchamp who decides to portray a nude lady walking down a staircase in form of abstract geometric forms which to be honest make the lady practically unrecognizable. It is also impossible to determine any sense of concrete time and space from the painting. Everyone who came across this enigmatic piece of cubist masterwork was shocked That however is besides the point.
Duchamp managed to push cubism to further territories than Picasso himself could. He paved way for artists globally; including here in Kenya to further explore abstraction. I personally owe this guy for thinking outside the box!. Otherwise i for one believe that abstract artists like me would forever be stuck in the hustle and bustle of painting perfect illusions. In short Duchamp basically thrust us into the 21st century painting.
In the early 1900s, even after several generations of confident and courageous artists painting nude artworks, the world was still uncomfortable and at war with this form of art. This is because in many global cultures, especially the western one, the naked form was considered to be a private indulgence that was not to be displayed publicly and with such explicitness as Amedeo Modgliani did in Paris in 1917.
This sculptor turned painter exhibited a couple of nudes and the gallery was immediately closed by police apparently due to palpable obscenity, his works drew influence from African sculpture and cubism. These paintings were so ingenious such that one could practically feel the presence of the models. Now these pieces stand as one of the true masterpieces of the 20th century.
America is turning into a society of capitalism and consumption. We are now in the mid 20th century when Pop art was born. This movement was by among others Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Tom Wesselmann. Like trumpets in the mouths of musicians, these artists were able to turn wind into music. they brought American popular culture into the realm of high art- utilizing the language of advertising and celebrity.
Wesselmann came up with a series which he called The Great American Nude. He used the style of playboy centerfolds to update the nude woman to the contemporary context; one heavily focused on the objectification and commodification of sex rather than its psychological aspect. His sleek and colorful alluring nudes offer themselves to the viewer in an explicitness not yet seen in all of art history.
In light of The Nude art exhibition that officially opened yesterday at the One Off Contemporary Art gallery, of which i will be writing about later on as the third and final part of this article, i want to give you a snippet of how it went down!
For more information about all the artists whose artworks are exhibited there, check out the website below: