Nude - Female Bodies by Female Artists

Villa Schöningen, Potsdam, Germany  


Current - 1st October (Saturday and Sunday only)

The nude female form is, without doubt, the most studied subject in art history. From the earliest cave paintings in Central - Africa, right up to Kim K’s latest Instagram post, the curves (or lack thereof) of the female form are one of our greatest cultural indicators. From the smallest detail in an image, we can learn so much about the time in which it was created. Are they tanned? If not, then, at that particular time in European History, it was not considered desirable or particularly cool to work outside on the land… pale skin was a sign of wealth. Does she have a large bottom (think Kim K)? Then, as a society, we have become more diverse, body characteristics not usually found in White Europeans are now our standard of beauty. The list is endless:  how much is she covered, what are her proportions, does she look confident… etc. Fascinating.

Yet one thing that is much harder to gauge is - how women at the time felt about themselves. The majority of portraits in any gallery will have been painted or taken by a man. Therefore, all we really gain is history from the perspective of one sex. Until now…  

Villa Schöningen is currently showing over forty works, all depicting the female form, all created by women, in an effort to re-address the balance. 

Hopefully, we can all learn something about how women have been asked to view themselves throughout history. Artwork in all forms, from sculpture to photography can be seen, all in an effort to gain a better understanding of our view on womanliness. And, to answer the question: “is there such a thing as a truly feminist portrayal of a woman's body?” The answer is probably “yes”.

Let us, for instance, take a look at the painting “Aphrodite calling” by Marion Fink (picture above). What does this say about our modern standards of beauty? Aphrodite leans, propped up by a man's torso. Perhaps this is a rather literal comment on how women are forced to look to men for approval, propped up by our comments. Next, she’s on her phone... calling you? Is she ready to come whenever you need? Or, is she calling to voice her opinions on how you’ve been treating her? It’s hard to tell. Also that shirt, it fits like it’s yours, and yet it clearly isn’t. It’s what’s known as a “boyfriend fit”, a shirt designed to look too big, fitted to man, worn by a woman, borrowed... a sign of ownership? All of this commentary from a single image, and, there’s so many more just waiting to be seen.

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