June 25, 2013

Shock of the Nude:

The Venice Biennale shows how naked women in art have come a long way—maybe

Titian’s languid Venus of Urbino, painted in 1538, doesn’t get out of Florence much, but she made a special trip to Venice to meet one of her most notorious descendants—Manet’s Olympia, the 1863 painting of an insouciant prostitute that scandalized Paris. The two reclining nudes share a wall in the Manet show at the Ducal Palace.

Meanwhile, across the lagoon, on San Giorgio Maggiore, Marc Quinn picks up the conversation with a other nude who defies standards of beauty and decorum. His enormous inflatable sculpture, titled Breath, depicts a pregnant Alison Lapper, a paraplegic who kept her baby despite the challenges,

And back in Biennale’s main show, “The Encyclopedic Palace,” Austrian nonagenarian Maria Lassnig is poised to hijack the conversation, whether she’s invited or not.

Read more about trends in the Biennale

From top: Titian, Venus of Urbino, 1538, oil on canvas, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. Courtesy Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali; Édouard Manet, Olympia, 1863, oil on canvas, Musée d’Orsay, Paris. © Musée d’Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt; Marc Quinn, Breath, 2012, double layer polyester and high capacity air pumps. Courtesy Marc Quinn studio; Maria Lassnig, Du oder Ich, 2005, oil on canvas, Courtesy Friedrich Christian Flick Collection.

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    Saw this in Venice at the Biennale!
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    THIS is what art is all about— challenging our eyes.
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