Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Reclining Nude by Amedeo Modigliani (1917)

Looking at this painting, and other paintings of the “nude” series by Modigliani, one quickly realizes some essential viewpoints.

One important feature of this painting is the absence of the hands. I have always been told that hands are the hardest thing for artists to paint. It is extremely delicate and very fragile for the full presentation. I believe they are kept out for the purposes for not destroying the simplicity and elegance of the naked women.

Taken from "Young Woman of the People" 1918 by Modigliani 1918

Without sounding to drastic, I can easily say that our artist has focused on the body more than the head. It surely covers more space on the canvas, but also it is in more clear detail compared to the rest of the body. 

One can easily tell how he depicted the female model, because when looking at all his work, one can see that it took a sharp turnaround 1914. It started out with professional models, and ended up with lovers, girlfriends, and such. The background changes from painting to painting and so do the female body’s position, but there is a curtain meaning behind all of these paintings. Personally, I believe that our artist is empowering the renaissance era with his light canvas strokes and the still face of the different models.

The paintings are also a good example of the dual nature of taboos and impurity. The taboo phenomenon is both dangerous and powerful. This means that the same phenomenon can appear in different lights for different groups in society. While, for example, female fertility Gods on the one hand can appear as 'unclean' Gods of men - but with a special magical power - can the same Gods for women appear as symbols of femininity without the 'unclean' aspect stands out clearly. 

When the old agricultural cultures of Goddesses as Venus, Astarte etc., it does not necessarily mean that the woman had a strong position in society. This meant rather that the earth and human fertility were central, while 'mysterious'. It may look as if it is an unclean woman who is divine; where the female impurity is less emphasized, the woman is solely human. The mysterious will still play an essential role for the understanding of the taboo, but does the taboo only exist for the attracted eye?


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