As the twenty-third edition of the international photo fair opens at the Grand Palais, we pick out the best nudes on show. Together, they prove that the most revisited theme in art still has something to say.
The nude is the most revisited subject in art history, from the classical era to contemporary. It’s obsessed us for centuries, and it’s not only to do with sex: a good nude, painted, photographed or performed, has always had something more to say. Photography is the most innovative medium, and an arbiter of change and witness of time. At a commercial fair, like Paris Photo—which opens today and runs until Sunday under the spectacular glass roof of the Grand Palais—nudes proliferate, as you might expect.
Modigliani’s Nu Couche became the most expensive painting Sotheby’s ever sold last year at auction, fetching 157.2 million USD. Alfred Stieglitz’s nude portrait of Georgia O’Keeffe didn’t fetch quite that, but the 1919 photograph reached $1,360,000 at a 2006 auction, while Edward Weston’smodernist photographic study, Nude (1936) sold of $1,609,000 when it last came up for sale. The model is Charis Wilson, Weston’s long-time muse, assistant and, later, his wife.
But tastes are changing, and that’s evident when it comes to bodies. At Paris Photo there is plenty of proof that we don’t have to keep hammering the same ideas of what makes a beautiful nude image. Sure, there are plenty of examples of the traditional stuff—headless, supple-bodied female nudes, athletically posed; conventions established first by male painters and then photographers. But there are also nudes that disrupt and disturb; they move away from what bodies can do, and what they can signify. – Read the full article – Elephant