Part Four: From the Art Nouveau of the Late Victorian Age to the Modern Contemporary
PHOTO: Robert Auer's lovely painting of Cleopatra
So, the last blog in part three may have been a bit gloomy concerning the contriction of the goddess, and the symbolic use of corsetry as social control. But I tried to keep all the badness contained in one section of the series of blogs, so as not to spoil the celebration of the ample goddess and the appeal of a more natural female shape, athough the goddesss did have a bumpy, turbulent ride.
Whilst the early Victorian age saw the mass production and widespread usage of the corset, with the Art Nouveau movement at the end of the 1890s it signals the appreciation of the beauty of women, celebrated in Classical myth, and the loosening of the grip on the goddess, and the bodies of women. Into the Art Deco era and the Flapper fashions, they were unconstrained in their fringes, often braless.
An iconic signature of the Art Nouveau illustration, often dubbed a whiplash style because of the intense curves used in the graphic lines, it is meant to return to the gentle undulation of natures elements. Such a whiplash design is found in the unique style of illustrator Aubrey Beardsley.
PHOTO: The Peacock Skirt, by Aubrey Beardsley from 1892.
Art Nouveau (1890 to 1910) signals a return to the more light-hearted celebratory art of the greats like Alphonse Mucha, Aubrey Beardsley, Robert Auer, and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood would make their mark in adoration of the goddess with their unadulterated celebration of female beauty.
It was because of their love of things ancient, and drawing upon myth, folklore, and nature for their inspiration, energy, and reverence of the female in their fullness are front and centre.
The women are elevated to divine status, sparkling in their supernatural, even occult at times, sublimity by the addition of gold leafing and ample nudes like the painting of Danaë, and Adam and Eve (1917).
PHOTO: "Adam and Eve" by Gustav Klimt
On the far end of stylized reclining nudes, more corpse like than angelic are worthy of macabre mention in Egon Schiele's "Reclining Female Nude" painted in
With artists such as Klimt, Mucha, Corbet, Renoir, and Suzanne Valadon, their reclining nudes are sensual, dappled in light and ethereal.
Valadon, to me seems to invoke van Gogh's tertiary colour palette of cyanotic blue-green and sea foam green. Also reminiscent of van Gogh are her turbulent, pulsating brush strokes, with bold outlines to frame the model.
PHOTO: Suzanne Valadon, "Reclining Nude" 1928
Whilst Vincent van Gogh was not known for his nudes the few that he painted have presence and impact, such as the "Nude Woman Reclining", painted in 1887. While in Paris staying with his brother Theo for 2 years, Vincent painted a series of nudes, including this electric Absinthe-hued green backdrop for this curvy nude.
PHOTO: Naked Woman by Vincent van Gogh, 1887
Just a side note, to signify the value of the ample figure as a desired subject of art, Amadeo Modigliani also did a painting entitled "Reclining Nude (on Her Left Side)", in 1917, sold for $26.8US million dollars at Christie's auction house in 2003.
PHOTO: Picasso's Blue Nude, painted during his blue period 1900-1904
Impressionists artists like August Macke, Paul Gaughin, Edouard Manet, and Edmund Degas (1834 - 1917) would once again free up the goddess unbound to be adored.
Degas' intimate and personal portraits of nudes in and around the ritual of the bath are lovely.
PHOTO: detail from "The Lovers" by Croatian artist Robert Auer (1873-1952)