Rodin’s timeless evocation of love and passion, The Kiss, is coming to Australia for the first time. His marble sculpture of naked, entwined lovers still compels gallery goers more than a century after the French artist completed it.
This summer audiences can follow the evolution of the naked body in art with Nude: art from the Tate Collection, which is touring to The Art Gallery of NSW. It is part of the seventh annual Sydney International Art Series.
AGNSW head curator of international art Justin Paton has spent the past two years working with the Tate in Britain compiling a vast and diverse collection of artworks that include paintings from the 19th century and works that represent the body politics of contemporary art.
“In a world of cosmetically perfected and artificially enhanced bodies, art offers us alternative images of who and how we are,” Paton says. “Ones that are truer to life’s challenges and complexities. We all have bodies and those bodies are … vital and vulnerable by turn.” The Kiss is just one of 100 sculptures, paintings and photographs being shown that address the naked form.
The works offer a glimpse into a time when artists provoked and shocked society with their depictions of nudity. British artist J.M.W. Turner’s erotic sketchbooks were thought to have been burned to protect his reputation. Stanley Spencer’s Double Nude Portrait was so unflinching the artist concealed it under his bed.
The collection highlights compelling contemporary artists including surrealist Ithell Colquhoun, African American portraitist Barkley L. Hendricks and Australia’s Ron Mueck, whose Wild Man is, for Paton, “one of the great images of masculinity in crisis”. Also exhibited will be celebrated works by Picasso, Bonnard and Matisse.
Nude is appearing at the same time as an altogether different – but equally compelling – exhibition at the MCA, Tatsuo Miyajima, Connect With Everything. It’s a survey of works by the influential contemporary Japanese artist.
His body of work, with its LED lighting, digital numerical counters and Buddhist influence, reflects the fragility of humans. Thematically, it’s not so different to Nude.
“There are some surprising connections, because Miyajima deals, as do many artists in Nude, with big questions of mortality,” Paton says.
Curated by MCA chief curator Rachel Kent, the debut Australian exhibition features Miyajima’s 1999 Venice Biennale installation Mega-Death; and Arrow of Time (Unfinished Life), recently exhibited at The Met in New York.
Nude: art from the Tate Collection *is on display at the AGNSW November 5 to February 5, 2017.
Tatsuo Miyajima Connect With Everything is on display at the MCA November 5 to March 5, 2017.