ARTH 451(F) Ideal Bodies: The Modern Nude and Its Dilemmas

The nineteenth century is so dominated by the female nude that the very term "nude" has come to stand for the female body. And yet, the history of the nude during this period is not devoid of male bodies. How did the female body come to so dominate representations of the nude? And how did the increasing challenge to the ideal (i.e., Realism, photography, Impressionism) affect the credibility of the nude? Required readings include Kenneth Clark's classic study The Nude: A Study in Ideal Form (1956) and Lynda Nead's The Female Nude: Art, Obscenity and Sexuality (1992), with special attention to texts which show how the nude and the discourse of the ideal function to obscure social issues. We will explore the ways in which certain types of bodies have been defined in opposition to the ideal, and thereby exoticized or marginalized. Our prime focus is the work of David, Ingres, Gericault, Courbet, Manet, and Renoir but more popular nineteenth-century images as well as selected works by artists working today will also be discussed. Evaluation will be based on biweekly 1-page papers, short reports, an oral presentation and a 10- to 20-page paper. Prerequisites: ArtH 101-102. Enrollment limited to 12. Preference given to senior Art majors, Women's and Gender Studies majors and European History majors.