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Extended through November 19, 2016

Nude

From Modigliani to Currin

September 20–November 19, 2016
980 Madison Avenue, New York

Installation video

Installation video

Installation view Lucian Freud artwork © The Lucian Freud Archive/Bridgeman Images. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Lucian Freud artwork © The Lucian Freud Archive/Bridgeman Images. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Photo: Rob McKeever

Works Exhibited

John Currin, Nude with Raised Arms, 1998 Oil on canvas, 46 × 34 inches (116.8 × 86.4 cm)© John Currin. Photo: Fred Scruton

John Currin, Nude with Raised Arms, 1998

Oil on canvas, 46 × 34 inches (116.8 × 86.4 cm)
© John Currin. Photo: Fred Scruton

Yves Klein, Monique (ANT 59), 1960 Dry pigment and synthetic resin on paper mounted on canvas, 30 ⅛ × 15 ⅞ inches (76.5 × 40.3 cm)© Yves Klein/2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris 2016

Yves Klein, Monique (ANT 59), 1960

Dry pigment and synthetic resin on paper mounted on canvas, 30 ⅛ × 15 ⅞ inches (76.5 × 40.3 cm)
© Yves Klein/2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris 2016

Amedeo Modigliani, Vénus, 1917 Oil on canvas 39 ⅛ × 25 ¼ inches (99.4 × 64.1 cm)Private CollectionPhoto: Rob McKeever

Amedeo Modigliani, Vénus, 1917

Oil on canvas 39 ⅛ × 25 ¼ inches (99.4 × 64.1 cm)
Private Collection
Photo: Rob McKeever

Francis Picabia, Nu de Do, 1942–44 Oil on paperboard mounted on wood, 41 ¼ × 29 ½ inches (104.8 × 74.9 cm)© 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris

Francis Picabia, Nu de Do, 1942–44

Oil on paperboard mounted on wood, 41 ¼ × 29 ½ inches (104.8 × 74.9 cm)
© 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris

Jenny Saville, Trace, 1993–94 Oil on canvas, 84 × 72 inches (213.4 × 182.9 cm)© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Trace, 1993–94

Oil on canvas, 84 × 72 inches (213.4 × 182.9 cm)
© Jenny Saville

About

The nude is not the subject of art, but a form of art.
—Kenneth Clark

Nude: From Modigliani to Currin presents depictions of the human body from the eve of modernism to the present day. From Paul Cézanne’s Baigneurs (c. 1890–95) and Baigneurs Debout (1876) and Edvard Munch’s harrowing Madonna (1895–97) to Charles Ray’s Young Man (2012), this exhibition considers the nude as an infinitely suggestive material and form.

With the rise of modernism—exemplified here by works including Amedeo Modigliani’s Nue couché aux bras levés (1916) and Pablo Picasso’s Nue endormie (1932)—representations of the human body moved away from the idealized and romantic toward fragmented, erotic distortions that reflected shifting ideas about human psychology and perception. Marcel Duchamp’s iconoclastic Nude Descending a Staircase (1912), represented here by a color pochoir from 1937, offers a refracted view of a body in dynamic motion, relating to the Cubist isolation of body parts into signs and symbols to be assembled and disassembled at will. In Alberto Giacometti’s Figure moyenne II (1947), the existential anxiety of the postwar era coalesces in an emaciated figure in cast bronze, the very embodiment of human fragility.

In René Magritte’s Surrealist tableaux such as L’embellie (The Break in the Clouds) (1942) and Clairvoyance (1965), the body is a motif like any other, detached from its traditional associations and transposed into a world of cryptic subconscious, while in Yves Klein’s performative Anthropometries, such as Monique (ANT 59) (1960), the naked female body is covered in paint and pressed directly against canvas to produce a direct impression, rather than being a mediated, scopic view. The dynamism of Francis Bacon’s Two Figures on a Couch (1967) lies in its abandonment of the classical human form, as well as its sustained investigation of movement captured, with limbs blending into torqued masses of flesh.

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From the Quarterly