THE ART OF THE NUDE | ARTISTS EXPLORE THE HUMAN FORM
An exhibition of drawings, prints, painting and sculpture
Guest Curators John Wilson & Roger Cucksey
Newport Museum and Art Gallery
19 July - 20 Sept 2008
THE ART OF THE NUDE
Guest Curators John Wilson & Roger Cucksey
Responses to THE ART OF THE NUDE | From spectacle to the history of art
- News archive: THE ART OF THE NUDE
Whilst THE ART OF THE NUDE exhibition resulted in immediate press sensationalism, there are encouraging signs that it has achieved its curatorial aims as a starting point for further engagement with the history of art and art education:
- Immediately following its opening to the public, THE ART OF THE NUDE exhibition resulted in sensationalist headlines in the national daily press on 22 July 2008. A BBC Radio Wales news interview later that day with Guest Curators John Wilson and Roger Cucksey probed behind the sensationalist headlines courted by the daily press to focus upon the factual history of Sir Gerald Festus Kelly's controversial "Newport Nude" painting.
- The ART OF THE NUDE exhibition had entered the media-sphere, and the 48 hour window of press interest saw further news enquiries flood into the Newport Museum and Art Gallery from as far afield as Mexico and the BBC World Service in Brazil.
- A first art review appeared in Metro Magazine on 23 July. "Nudes have generated their fair share of controversy over the years. The bronze version of Rodin's The Kiss, presented here, was once considered unsuitable for general display in America. Newport's gallery itself came under fire in 1947 when the purchase and public display of Sir Gerald Festus Kelly's Nude Study was described as 'an affront' by the Bishop Of Caerleon. The subsequent press coverage resulted in hordes of people flocking to see the work", concludes the Metro review, "It's unlikely this exhibition will attract similar criticism, though the high calibre of work on display should certainly draw the crowds".
There has been a steady flow of public visitors to the exhibition at Newport Museum and Art Gallery, including a number of artists. Some artists have even visited the gallery with their sketchbooks to make studies from some of the pieces of sculpture on display.
Whilst the spectacle of press sensationalism certainly won't do any harm in terms of drawing potential viewers to the gallery, it has been encouraging to see how the curatorial aim and invitation to the viewer for this exhibition as a starting point for enquiry into the history of art has been enthusiastically responded to.
I have received a number of enquiries through users of the photo gallery on flickr, and I gather that THE ART OF THE NUDE is now featured as part of an art history course at a University in Washington (USA).
The exhibition THE ART OF THE NUDE is archived in the photo gallery on flickr, where viewers may leave their own comments on the works exhibited.
John Wilson, Guest Curator (24 July 2008)
NEWS ( to 24 July 2008)
- artdaily.org | Artists Explore the Human Form in Art of the Nude Exhibit at Newport Museum & Art Gallery | Added 24 July 2008 | NEWPORT- An exhibition of drawings, prints, painting and sculpture guest curated by John Wilson and Roger Cucksey and running until September 20 opened at the Newport Museum and Art Gallery in South Wales. The Art of the Nude THE ART OF THE NUDE frames the artistic genre of the nude and provides a fascinating thread through the history of art. The study of the nude formed the basis of the post-Renaissance academic tradition of "Western Art", whilst the departures of modernism and the avant garde likewise saw a persistence of the nude as a vital genre for the artist's exploration. Whither the nude in today's world of CGI and the Internet? | (...) The show reflects upon: the central place of the nude in the history of art, the nude as a highly productive genre for the artist's exploration and the sometimes controversial role of the nude as a mediator of aesthetic taste and cultural mores across the generations. | (...) The Art of the Nude is the third project in the Explorations series, which provides a frame to explore the diverse range of artists, genre and art historical periods represented in the Newport Museum and Art Gallery collections.
- artknowledgenews.com | Artists Explore the Human Form in Art of the Nude Exhibit at Newport Museum & Art Gallery | Added 24 July 2008
- metrolife.co.uk | Bodies beautiful at The Art Of The Nude | by DAVID TRIGG - Wednesday, July 23, 2008 | This exhibition, curated by John Wilson and Roger Cucksey, presents some of the very best nudes from Newport Art Gallery's collection. | (...) Cardiff-based artist Harry Holland has several paintings on show. His delicate, soft-focus technique lends itself very well to the human form. Holland depicts an enigmatic and mysterious scene in his painting Diana And Actaeon, a contemporary interpretation of the ancient Greek myth. There are also some wonderful life drawings included, such as Elizabeth Rathmell's carefully observed Reclining Female Nude, and the sketches by Gaudier-Brzeska are especially pleasing. | (...) Nudes have generated their fair share of controversy over the years. The bronze version of Rodin's The Kiss, presented here, was once considered unsuitable for general display in America. Newport's gallery itself came under fire in 1947 when the purchase and public display of Sir Gerald Festus Kelly's Nude Study was described as 'an affront' by the Bishop Of Caerleon. The subsequent press coverage resulted in hordes of people flocking to see the work. | It's unlikely this exhibition will attract similar criticism, though the high calibre of work on display should certainly draw the crowds.
- current.com | 'Brazen' nude painting back on show after 60-year ban | Accessed 23 July 2008
- newstin.co.uk | Banned nude still scandalises | Accessed 23 July 2008
- Artinfo, NY | Once-Banned "Brazen" Nude Upsets for New Reasons | Published 23 July 2008
- bannedstuff.net | banned nude painting still controversial | Accessed 23 July 2008
- The Times | Banned nude still scandalises | July 23, 2008 | The portrait was bought by a public gallery in 1947 and more than 20,000 people queued to see it. However, council chiefs in Newport, South Wales, decided that the painting was scandalising their town and ordered that it be taken down. | The picture, which became known as the “Newport Nude”, has been locked in a vault ever since. | Now, as part of an exhibition in Newport called The Art of the Nude, the portrait is still a talking point. | Elizabeth Ayres, 38, a local resident, said: “She’s a bit of a Fag Ash Lil, but I can’t imagine why the painting would be banned.”
- BBC Radio Wales | News programme 16h00 - 18h30 | 22 July 2008 | A radio news interview with Guest Curators John Wilson and Roger Cucksey, probing behind the sensationalist headlines courted by the daily press: to focus upon the factual history of Kelly's controversial Nude Study (- for it was never actually banned by Newport Town COuncil in 1947); the current exhibition THE ART OF THE NUDE featuring 90 works that explore the genre of the nude; and the surprising quality of the permanent collections at Newport Museum and Art Gallery with works in this exhibition by prominent artists such as Rodin, Augustus John, Henry Gaudier-Brzeska, William Goscombe John, Angelica Kaufman, William Blake, Peter Blake and Harry Holland.
- 22 July 2008: "Banned brazen nude" - sensationalist headlines appeared in the Daily Mirror | Daily Mail | Daily Telegraph | BBC News | London Evening Standard
- BBC News |Banned 'brazen' nude back on show | Page last updated at 11:45 GMT, Tuesday, 22 July 2008 12:45 UK | (...) Mark Soady, minor canon at St Woolas Cathedral in Newport said he had no issue with the painting appearing in the art gallery. | "I think at the time people were much more sensitive about these things," he added. | "1947 is 60 years ago. Now we are much more understanding of these things. There are many more important issues in the world to get concerned and worried about." | One visitor Elizabeth Ayres, 38, an office worker, said: "She's a bit of a Fag Ash Lil but I can't imagine why the painting would be banned."Maybe it's because of the way she is staring - women in those days weren't allowed to be that brassy."
- The Evening Standard | On display after 60 years: The 'brazen' nude painting which scandalised a town | Last updated at 11:18am on 22.07.08 | The nude - titled D.D after the initials of the model - was painted by Sir Gerald Kelly who painted the Royal family of the day and later became president of the Royal Academy. | It was bought by Newport's Museum and Art Gallery for £250 after it was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1947. | But the painting has proved to be a good investment for Newport - its current value is thought to be around £30,000.| Visitors to the gallery were today unflustered by the brazen nude - but were more offended because she is smoking. | Office worker Elizabeth Ayres, 38, of Newport, said: 'She's a bit of a Fag Ash Lil but I can't imagine why the painting would be banned. | Maybe it's because of the way she is staring - women in those days weren't allowed to be that brassy.'
- Daily Mail | On display after 60 years: The 'brazen' nude painting banned for scandalising a town | By Daily Mail Reporter | Last updated at 10:18 AM on 22nd July 2008 | An oil painting of a nude woman went back on show today - more than 60 years after it was banned for being 'too brazen'.| The portrait of a naked woman smoking was bought by a public gallery in 1947 which proudly displayed it for all to see. | More than 20,000 people queued up to see it - until it caused an row with church elders. | Brazen: The painting by Sir Gerald Kelly of a nude woman smoking has gone back on show - more than 60 years after it was banned | Embarrassed council chiefs in Newport, South Wales, decided the painting was scandalising their town and ordered it to be taken down.| The picture which became known as the 'Newport Nude' has been locked up in a vault gathering dust - until now. |It has gone back on show at an exhibition in Newport called The Art of the Nude where it is still the talking point among 90 other pictures and sculptures. | But now more people are complaining about the fact that she is smoking in public rather than her nudity.
- Daily Telegraph | "Brazen" nude shown in public for first time in 61 years | By Stephen Adams, Arts Correspondent | Last Updated: 1:54PM BST 22 Jul 2008 | The 'Newport Nude', as it became known, has just been returned to the public gaze in a exhibition of around 90 paintings called The Art of the Nude. | (...) Today's viewers have shown few qualms about the nude being displayed - other than the fact that the model pictured is smoking.
- Daily Mirror | 'Too rude' nude is exposed 60yrs on | By Richard Smith 22/07/2008 | Defiantly naked and smoking a cigarette, she sees the light of day for the first time since she was covered up in a public scandal 61 years ago. | This painting of a mystery nude was put on display again yesterday by the council that paid £250 for it in 1947. | More than 20,000 people queued to see it then. But the erotic image was too rude for church leaders, who persuaded the council to put it away. |The Daily Mirror reported on December 31 1947: "A bishop objects to nude bought by town."
- South Wales Argus, 15 July 2008 | Newport nude can go on view again | "A saucy nude who scandalised Newport in the 1940s is once again being exposed to the public gaze. | Clothed and unclothed and ranging from the strictly representational through to the abstract the exhibition shows off one of the finest art collections in Wales and which is Newport's hidden treasure. (...) | In a move to make more of its collection accessible Newport's art gallery has over the last year been putting its pictures online. The nudes can be seen on this website and the series of which it is part on here".
- In 1947 the Daily Mirror covered the story "A bishop objects to "Nude" bought by town" - see further details and a case study of the Festus Kelly Newport Nude controversy here