The Body of Art
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Keywords

Body
art
pornography
narrative
gender

How to Cite

Waldrep, S. (2020). The Body of Art. Corpus Mundi, 1(2), 62-87. https://doi.org/10.46539/cmj.v1i2.21

Abstract

As part of a larger study on the mainstreaming of pornography in contemporary film and television, this essay attempts to examine and extend our vocabulary for discussing visual representations of the human body by revisiting Kenneth Clark’s important study The Nude from 1972. Clark’s book provides a history of the male and female nude in two- and three-dimensional art from Ancient Egypt and Greece to the Renaissance and beyond. This essay focuses on places within his analysis that are especially generative for understanding pornography such as the importance of placing the nude form within a narrative (Venus is emerging from her bath, for example) or attempts by artists to suggest movement within static forms. The essay places Clark’s rich typology in conversation with other thinkers, such as Fredric Jameson, Erwin Panofsky, E. H. Gombrich, and Michel Foucault. The piece ends with a discussion of androgyny and hermaphroditism as they relate to the expression of gender in plastic art, especially the notion that all representations of the body necessarily include a gender spectrum within one figure. Artists whose work is looked at in some detail include Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Donatello.

https://doi.org/10.46539/cmj.v1i2.21
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References

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Clark, K. (1972). The Nude: A Study in Ideal Form. Princeton: Princeton UP.

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Foucault, M. (1985). The Use of Pleasure: Volume II of the History of Sexuality. Robert Hurley (Trans.). New York: Pantheon Books.

Gombrich, E. H. (1969). Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Isaacson, W. (2017). Leonardo da Vinci. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Jameson, F. (2015). The Ancients and the Postmoderns. New York: Verso.

Kubrick, S., (Dir.). (1999). Eyes Wide Shut. Perf. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Warner Bros.

Panofsky, E. (1955). Meaning in the Visual Arts: Papers in and on Art History. Garden City, NY: Doubleday Anchor Books.

Pollio, V. (1968). De architectura. Trans. Lorenzo Cesariano. New York: B. Blom.

Rewald, S. & Dempsey, J. (Eds.). (2018). Obsession: Nudes by Klimt, Schiele, and Picasso from the Scofield Thayer Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art [Distributed the Yale University Press].

Sedgwick, E. K. (1990). Epistemology of the Closet. Berkeley: University of California Press.

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