The gallery will present an exhibition centred on the nude, one of several Sydney events featuring the naked body.

It’s one of art’s oldest subjects going back thousands of years to the bronze and marble statues of the Ancient Greeks – but the nude still has the power to shock.

An exhibition opening at the Art Gallery of NSW in November will explore a wide range of artistic responses to the naked body through 100 works from London’s Tate collection by renowned artists such as Pablo Picasso, Lucian Freud, Henri Matisse and Louise Bourgeois.

Auguste Rodin’s The Kiss (1901-04), photo © Tate London, 2016

Entitled Nude: art from the Tate collection, the exhibition will include one of the world’s most famous images of erotic love: Auguste Rodin’s sculpture The Kiss from 1901–04. It is the first time the iconic work has ever left Europe.

Spanning paintings, sculptures, photographs and prints, as well as many of the major art movements including romanticism, cubism, expressionism, realism, surrealism and feminism, other notable works in the exhibition include Pierre Bonard’s The Bath from 1925, Picasso’s Nude Woman in a Red Armchair from 1932 and Ron Mueck’s Wild Man from 2005.

Ron Mueck’s Wild Man (2005), photo © Tate London, 2016

“From idealised representations of the human form through to the confrontational naked bodies of recent art, the nude has expressed a vast range of human aspirations, emotions and ideas,” said the Director of the Art Gallery of NSW, Dr Michael Brand. “The Art Gallery of NSW encourages debate about art and provides the opportunity for visitors to confront art that is charged and powerful. From Turner’s secret sketch books to the radical modern nudes of Picasso and the poignancy of Rineke Dijkstra’s photographs, Nude: art from the Tate collection does just that.”

The exhibition is curated by Justin Paton, head curator of international art at the Art Gallery of NSW, and Emma Chambers, curator of modern British art at the Tate. “We all respond strongly to images of the unclothed body because they address issues at the heart of who we are as humans – issues of love, desire, mortality, truth and power,” said Paton. “The show is a survey of extraordinary artists, major art movements, and many remarkable social changes. But above all it is a chance to encounter compelling artworks up close and in the flesh – to experience each artwork’s distinctive ‘body language’ and see how we respond.

Pablo Picasso’s Nude Woman in a Red Armchair (1932),  photo © Tate London, 2016

“The nude has changed radically across the past 200 years. But it has also remained a subject of constant interest for artists and viewers — because every one of us has a body. In that sense it is an exhibition about who we are and how see ourselves,” Paton said.

Nude: art from the Tate collection is not the only event in Sydney this year to celebrate bare bodies. The Art Gallery of NSW’s exhibition follows a recent music and visual art performance called Butt Naked Salon staged at the Yellow House in Potts Point in August. The concert featured the Australian Art Quartet performing the premiere of Limelight publisher Andrew Batt-Rawden’s string quartet 27, while the composer posed nude for award-winning artist Wendy Sharpe (you can read John Shands’ review of the event here).

On September 2 and 3, Sydney will be treated to more naked forms when Carriageworks presents Tragédie, a provocative dance piece by respected French choreographer Olivier Dubois featuring 18 naked male and female dancers. Created in 2012, Dubois has described Tragédie as “an exploration of the gulf between merely being human and embracing our full humanity.”


Nude: art from the Tate collection is at the Art Gallery of NSW from November 5, 2016 to February 5, 2017

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