Drawing 1, part 4: The Naked Dinner Party

We were asked to read a lot of texts and form a discussion using quotes from the different texts. I chose to focus on the role of the female nude. Here is my discussion (it had to be under 400 words)

Sarah Drury: “So, in your views, everyone, what role does the female play in art?”

John Berger: “To be born, a woman has to be born within an allotted and confined space, into the keeping of men.”

Gill Saunders: “In current feminist criticism, all nudes are seen as objectifying women. The real criticism to be levelled at the nude, is that it presents a male fantasy of women’s sexuality.”

Sarah Drury: “What is your view on the nude, John?”

John Berger: “To be nude is to be seen naked by others and yet not recognised for oneself. A naked body has to be seen as an object, in order to become a nude. To be naked is to be without disguise.”

Sarah Drury: “Tell me more about being seen as an ‘object’”.

John Berger: “Well, men act, and woman appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. They turn themselves into an object- and most particularly and object of vision`: a sight.”

Sarah Drury: “Do you think there are ways that men have objectified women, in nude art?”

Frances Borzello: “There is evidence from Greek and Roman historians that a female model is never mentioned without a bit of what the British call ‘nudge, nudge, wink, wink’. The lower halves of female classical statuary had their sex coyly covered. Their beauty was lowlier than men. The view of the female body, as an imperfect version of the male, inharmoniously designed, was inherited by Christianity, where it was explained as Eve’s original sin.”

Rosemary Betterton: But that was previously. The fragmentation and severing of the female sexual body, in a way which empathises their genitals and their exposure to the viewer, is more familiar today in relation to the pornographic gaze.

Gill Saunders: I agree, Rosemary. The objectification and fragmentation of women’s bodies is perhaps an inevitable corollary of women’s status in Western society, and Western art. The woman is the passive object, the man the analytical creator, projecting his vision, desires, tastes, onto her body.

Sarah Drury: I have found all of your views fascinating, but feel that now, the female is less objectified, especially as artists such as Jenny Saville and even Lucien Freud, depict women in such a desexualised manner. The era of the ‘beautiful’ nude has given way to more realistic perceptions of the feminine form.

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