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Exposed: The Victorian Nude

DATES September 6, 2002 through January 5, 2003
  • The English Nude
    British artists took up the challenge of portraying the nude in the early Victorian era as part of a mission to formulate a national style of figure painting that would rival that of their Continental contemporaries. In this endeavor, they were supported by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who were enthusiastic patrons of the arts and whose collection included nude subjects. Eager to avoid vulgar or prurient content, artists at this time generally took inspiration from well-known episodes of British history and literature that expressed clear moral or religious messages. The story of the English heroine Lady Godiva was a popular source, along with Edmund Spenser’s poem The Faerie Queene and William Shakespeare’s fanciful A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Even so, artists who concentrated on nationalistic themes involving nudity were not immune to accusations of indecency.

    The majority of the paintings and sculpture on view in this exhibition were originally shown at the London Royal Academy, the most powerful art school and exhibition venue in England. As more artists depicted the nude in works they intended for display at the Royal Academy’s annual exhibitions in the 1830s, there was a consequent increase in critical and public debates about the propriety of nude imagery. For many, the painter or draftsman’s illusion of living flesh was too carnal, whereas the sculpted marble nude was exempt because it recalled the venerable, intellectual tradition of the ancient Greeks. Simultaneously, debates intensified about methods of art instruction, especially the use of the live model in the classroom. Although the privately run Royal Academy traditionally included life study in its training, students were permitted to study from life only if they had demonstrated their skills in drawing from plaster casts of antique Greek and Roman sculpture. In contrast, the newly founded Government School of Design (1837) did not initially include life drawing in its curriculum, although student pressure soon forced the reversal of this policy.

    Controversy arose concerning the moral danger of bringing art students in contact with models, whose profession and generally lower social status put their morals in question. Concern for the welfare of the art viewer was also widespread, with artists, critics, and social and government agencies united in the general belief that art should be spiritually elevating in order to justify its existence. The problem was how to portray the nude naturalistically without appealing to sensual desire.
  • The Classical Nude
    In the 1860s a group of young, progressive artists began to look increasingly to antique sources for inspiration, in reaction to what they considered to be the provincialism of the English nude. Influenced primarily by ancient Greek and Roman art and by their study on the Continent, they justified their portrayals of the nude body by placing it firmly within the framework of the respected classical tradition, sometimes even recapitulating the poses of well-known classical works in their art. Whereas earlier artists had validated their nudes by drawing on British historical and literary sources, this generation of artists took their subject matter from ancient Greek and Roman narratives in order to align themselves with broader and older literary and aesthetic traditions in Western art. Their efforts were supported by an already-strong scholarly tradition in England that emphasized the study of the ancient Greek and Roman literary classics and had produced such nineteenth-century English poets as John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Alfred Tennyson.

    For the Victorian audience, associations with the classical world helped to elevate the nude and divorce it from implications of sexuality. The figures of classical myth were fictional characters whose story lines were not only standard and predictable, but were also the foundation of Western literature. Greek philosophical concepts of beauty and human perfection further ennobled the nude through an ideal that sought to balance mind and body.

    The venerable classical nude was therefore put into service to promote contemporary ideas about hygiene, medicine, and eugenics (the study of improving humanity genetically). The Greek ideal of physical and intellectual perfection provided a rationale for a growing interest in male athleticism, while the voluptuous proportions of Aphrodite (or the Roman equivalent, Venus) were held up as a model for natural womanhood and were occasionally associated with more radical notions of female emancipation. Within all of these contexts, the classical body continued as the established archetype of beauty.
  • The Private Nude
    Although publicly exhibited art was expected to uphold Victorian standards of morality, artists occasionally violated conventions of decency by displaying works that overtly encouraged sexual interpretations. Outside of exhibitions, such imagery sometimes met a demand for intimate, smaller-scale works that invited close scrutiny and responses rooted in personal feelings. Private patronage enabled artists to explore more subjective ways of depicting the nude, giving full expression to desires marginalized by mainstream culture.

    The development of new technologies in the Victorian era contributed to an upsurge in publishing and made possible the wide distribution of images of the nude in books, newspapers, and magazines that could not easily be controlled. In this connection, the word pornography officially entered English usage in 1857 at the same time that the first law to deal specifically with pictorial and literary pornography was passed. Then as now, definitions for pornography and obscenity were inexact since they entailed subjective judgment. Because a distinction was made between art in private collections and imagery that was mass-produced and widely available, the Obscene Publications Act of 1857 had little impact on painting and sculpture or privately held photographs, prints, and books.

    Photographic images of the nude, however, were easy targets of campaigners for public decency since they offered a level of immediacy not possible in painting and, like prints, could be cheaply and almost endlessly reproduced. Although some photographs were conceived as works of fine art, others were more explicitly pornographic. The Society for the Suppression of Vice invoked the Act of 1857 to seize more than a quarter of a million photographs and prints from shops between 1868 and 1880.

    The widespread publicity devoted to discussions about obscenity and the high profile of the activities of the Society for the Suppression of Vice led some people to fear that such attention would only stimulate public interest. Their fears may have been well grounded, but there is no easy way of telling. Viewed from a more historical perspective, official measures to control the dissemination of unsavory imagery may be seen as paternalistic efforts on the part of the upper classes—designed not only to protect the masses, but also to stabilize a society perceived to be in dangerous flux.
  • The Artist's Studio
    For Victorians who were uninitiated in the practical aspects of making art, the studio was a mysterious place, the site of the creative process that transformed the idea of beauty into material form. The "magic" of creation, however, was often the product of discipline and hard work, evidenced in this gallery by preparatory studies that led to completed works of art. Yet the general fantasy persisted (encouraged in part by artists seeking to enhance the marketability of their work) that the studio was a special place where the ordinary rules of life were suspended in the service of art.

    A chief point of public curiosity was the role of the artist’s model in the creative process. Victorian artists often focused on the artist-model theme in their work, sometimes to justify the portrayal of the nude figure, sometimes to cater to market demand, and sometimes to explore their own notions of personal creativity. A number of interrelated themes recurred in contemporary commentary about the artist’s model. One pertained to the philosophical debates, waged since the time of the ancient Greeks, that focused on the issue of which was the better means to discovering absolute beauty: direct observation of nature or the artist’s idealizing imagination.

    Another variation on the theme centered on the private studio as the site of seduction and passion—a notion basic to the Pygmalion story, in which the artist falls in love with his own creation. Whereas the Pygmalion theme was symbolic, popular imagination was fired by the notion that female models were morally corrupt because of their willingness to pose nude. Such negative assumptions were reinforced by social resistance to working women, continued attempts to ban the live model from art schools, and the proliferation of popular fiction about bohemian artistic life.

    Artists were attuned to the importance of maintaining reputations of moral propriety. Even the illustrious president of the Royal Academy, Frederic Leighton, had a separate entrance to his studio for his models so that they could come and go without meeting his friends and patrons.
  • The Nude in High Art
    During the late Victorian period, artists expanded the ways in which they represented the nude in works classified as "high art"—technically and thematically ambitious oils and sculpture usually intended for public exhibition. Adopting a broader repertoire of subjects, artists presented the body in more explicit states of subjection, exertion, and arousal, often on a spectacular scale, as if to test the limits of the audience’s tolerance for sexually charged subjects in such respected exhibition venues as the Royal Academy, the New Gallery, and the Society of British Artists.

    The rise of the high-art nude sometimes smacked of sensationalism because of the dramatic narrative contexts in which the nude figure was placed. Opponents of nude imagery found in these high-profile works added ammunition for their campaigns to discredit the nude in art and continued to link such subject matter with declining public moral values. Moreover, the often-dramatic treatment of the nude was associated with French art, whose influence was habitually connected with vulgarity and excess—an aesthetic judgment lodged in long-standing nationalistic attitudes.

    The heightened visibility of more aggressive depictions of the nude generated exceptional public controversy in 1885, when an unusually high number of nude subjects were displayed at the Royal Academy and the prestigious Grosvenor Gallery. The Academy’s treasurer, John Callcott Horsley, is believed to have written an anonymous letter to The Times, condemning the immorality he witnessed on the Academy’s walls. This now-famous letter stirred further vehement commentary, undoubtedly intensified by the moral panic that swept England in the mid-1880s in reaction to vivid newspaper reports about the widespread sexual victimization of women and children in the nation’s cities.

    Despite the arguments by Horsley and others that nude imagery incited vice and sexual exploitation, their calls for censorship had little long-term effect on the arts. Indeed, their opposition to the high-art nude was ultimately dismissed in some quarters as an expression of uncultured or uneducated hysteria.
  • The Modern Nude: The Model as Subject
    Around the turn of the century, the conventions of the academic, idealized nude began to be replaced by new, naturalistic treatments of the body in intimate, contemporary settings. In some cases the professional female model was herself the subject, underscoring the role of the studio model in the artistic process and the relationship of the professional model with the artist-creator. Although the theme of the model was well known, especially through variations of the Pygmalion narrative, the increasingly naturalistic approach to the nude shocked viewers and critics alike. Théodore Roussel's The Reading Girl, for example, was found "odious" and "ugly" because it was such a mundane, matter-of-fact presentation of a professional model taking a break in a studio.

    A significant number of works featured nude or partially draped women in domestic interiors, especially bedrooms. These "boudoir nudes" by such cutting-edge young artists as William Orpen and Walter Richard Sickert frequently displayed the female body in seedy, darkened rooms that hinted at illicit sexual activity. The narrative possibilities presented by these images were often unsettling: without strong story lines, whether literary or historical, viewers were left to carve out content from their own imaginations. Moreover, in some cases the vigorous, even aggressive painting techniques appeared to defile and fragment the figure. Conservative critics were offended by this type of work, seeing it as alien (that is to say, French), unbeautiful, and immoral.
  • The Modern Nude: Naturism
    From the 1860s, and especially in the years around 1900, images of nudes in informal outdoor settings emerged as an important category in British art. These works reveal a growing acceptance of contemporaneous French artistic influence in their painting method, characterized by brushstrokes loosely applied to the surface and the effect of having been done in the open air. Many of these pictures were shown at dissident exhibition societies such as the New English Art Club, an organization established in 1886 to introduce the works of artists who had been trained in France. The Francophile techniques promoted by the New English Art Club were perceived as a direct challenge to the conservatism and priority of the Royal Academy (the bastion of British artistic taste), and they were symptomatic of English artists’ gradual absorption of a range of international styles.

    The representation of nude figures in the open air also intersected with ideas about the benefits of fresh air, exercise, and swimming, which were in themselves a response to reformist thinking about public health. Many painters and photographers showed youths simply enjoying the sun or engaged in athletic activities. Although sometimes calling on erotic sensibilities, such scenes were often interpreted as reflections of a universal longing for the untainted innocence and ease of youth. Other artists focused on the female nude, showing women basking in isolated, sunlit rural settings. Such treatments of women in nature indirectly recalled older, traditional motifs of Greek nymphs in pastoral, idyllic landscapes, thus investing these works with an aura of nostalgia for preindustrial society.
  • June 2001: Continuing Exhibitions

    Arts of Africa
    Long-Term Installation

    Leon Golub: Paintings, 1950–2000
    Through August 19, 2001

    Digital: Printmaking Now
    June 22-September 2, 2001

    Upcoming Exhibitions

    My Reality: Contemporary Art and the Culture of Japanese Animation
    July 28-October 7, 2001

    American Identities: A Reinterpretation of American Art at the BMA
    Opens September 5, 2001 (Long-Term Installation)

    Wit and Wine: A New Look at Ancient Iranian Ceramics from the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation
    September 7-December 30, 2001

    Vital Forms: American Art and Design in the Atomic Age, 1940–1960
    October 12, 2001-January 6, 2002

    Eternal Egypt: Masterworks of Ancient Art from The British Museum
    November 23, 2001-February 24, 2002

    Star Wars: The Magic of Myth
    April 5-July, 7 2002

    Exposed: The Victorian Nude
    September 2, 2002-January 5, 2003

    The Last Expression: Art from Auschwitz
    February 28-May 11, 2003

    Great Expectations: John Singer Sargent Painting Children
    September 19-November 30, 2003

    Continuing Exhibitions

    Arts of Africa
    Long-Term Installation
    (African Galleries, 1st floor)
    More than twenty important objects, previously not on view, will be integrated into a major reinstallation of some 225 works from the Museum's exceptional holdings of African art. Although a wide selection from the hundreds of African cultures will be represented, the reinstallation is exceptionally strong in works from Central Africa, particularly those from the Kongo, Luba, and Kuba peoples of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The majority of the items on display were created for religious or political ceremonial life, but the presentation will also include furniture, textiles, architectural fragments, household items, and objects of personal adornment.
    Organization: The reinstallation has been organized by William C. Siegmann, Chair of the Department of the Arts of Africa and the Pacific Islands at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

    Leon Golub: Paintings, 1950-2000
    Through August 19, 2001
    (European Painting and Sculpture Galleries, 5th floor)
    This exhibition examines the career of Leon Golub (b. 1922), dean of American political art, whose intense, gritty paintings examine the complexities of power. The artist's raw and expressive canvases span the second half of the twentieth century and explore issues of race, violence, war, and the human condition. The exhibition of some fifty-five works, many of which are mural-sized, includes such monumental paintings as Gigantomachy Il (1966), Vietnam II (1973), and the BMA's own Riot IV (1983). A selection of Golub's lesser-known political portraits and his recent paintings that consider mortality will also be included.
    Organization: Leon Golub: Paintings, 1950-2000 was curated by Jon Bird, an independent, London-based curator, and organized by the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin. Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Associate Curator in the Department of Contemporary Art, organized the presentation at the BMA.
    Support: The BMA presentation is supported, in part, by the BMA's Barbara and Richard Debs Exhibition Fund. Additional support is provided by The Broad Art Foundation and Dr. and Mrs. Philip J. Kozinn. Educational activities are made possible by the Third Millennium Foundation.
    Publication: Leon Golub: Echoes of the Real, with an essay by Jon Bird, includes more than 130 color plates and is published by Reaktion Books, Ltd., London.

    Digital: Printmaking Now
    June 22-September 2, 2001
    (Morris A. and Meyer Schapiro Wing, 4th floor)
    This installment of the Print National, a survey of important developments in the field of printmaking, will focus on the increasing use of computers in the printmaking process. The exhibition, one of the first to address this issue, will include traditionally printed works that have been manipulated digitally and works created entirely by computer.
    Organization: This exhibition was organized by Marilyn Kushner, Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Support: Digital: Printmaking Now is organized by the Brooklyn Museum of Art. The exhibition is made possible, in part, by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc., and the BMA's Prints and Photographs Council. Additional support is provided by Marc A. Schwartz, Seymour and Laura Schweber, and Philip and Alma Kalb, and The Fund—created by a gift from the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation. Educational activities are supported by the Third Millennium Foundation. Media sponsors are Artbyte Magazine and Art on Paper.
    Publication: A fully-illustrated color catalogue will be available.

    Upcoming Exhibitions

    My Reality: Contemporary Art and the Culture of Japanese Animation
    July 28-October 7, 2001
    Synergies between Japanese and American popular culture are explored in this showcase of photography, painting, sculpture, and video that investigates the influence of Japanese animation (anime) and techno-culture on art. Anime is incredibly versatile in its ability to comment on social and sexual mores, gender roles, and traditional values in the face of an increasingly alien future. The exhibition features work by Takashi Murakami, Mariko Mori, Paul McCarthy, and Charlie White, among others.
    Organization: My Reality: Contemporary Art and the Culture of Japanese Animation was originally curated by Jeff Fleming, Senior Curator, and Susan Lubowsky Talbott, Director of the Des Moines Art Center. The exhibition is coordinated at the Brooklyn Museum of Art by Charlotta Kotik, Department Chair of Contemporary Art.
    Support: Educational activities for the BMA's presentation are supported by the Third Millennium Foundation. Additional support provided by The Fund—created by a gift from the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation.
    Publication: An illustrated catalogue co-published by the Des Moines Art Center and Independent Curators International accompanies My Reality.

    American Identities: A Reinterpretation of American Art at the BMA
    September 5, 2001-Long Term
    (Luce Center for American Art, 5th floor)
    This reinstallation of approximately 350 works from the permanent collections will present an innovative thematic survey of American paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts from the early eighteenth century to the present. An orientation gallery will introduce the visitor to the scope of the collections, showcasing a number of icons in a Brooklyn context. The galleries will be organized in a general chronological fashion with richly interpreted installations devoted to such themes as Dutch New Yorkers, Shaping American Landscapes, The Civil War Era, Women's Worlds, Urban Experiences, and The Drive toward Abstraction.
    Organization: This project is a collaboration among curators of American Paintings and Sculpture: Teresa A. Carbone, Project Director; Linda S. Ferber and Barbara Dayer Gallati; Decorative Arts: Kevin L. Stayton, Chair of Department of Decorative Arts, Barry R. Harwood; Contemporary Art: Charlotta Kotik; Arts of Americas: Susan Kennedy Zeller
    Support: American Identities: A Reinterpretation of American Art at the BMA is supported by a generous grant from the Independence Community Foundation for the Museum's project American Identities: Building Audiences for the Future, and by the National Endowment for the Arts.

    Wit and Wine: A New Look at Ancient Iranian Ceramics from the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation
    September 7-December 30, 2001
    (Robert E. Blum Gallery, 1st floor)
    This exhibition comprises forty-five pottery vessels—most for holding or pouring wine—from ancient Iran, ranging in date from the fifth millennium B.C. to the third century A.D. Demonstrating the extraordinary range of Iranian pottery, the exhibition includes such whimsical examples as a juglike vessel in the shape of human feet, and sculptural works in the shape of camels and bulls. Some containers clearly imitate early metal prototypes, with their unusually thin walls and long spouts, while others are painted with sophisticated ornamental designs depicting the animals of the Iranian highland. The Brooklyn Museum of Art is the last scheduled venue for this traveling exhibition.
    Organization: The exhibition has been organized by the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation and curated by Dr. Trudy S. Kawami. James F. Romano, Curator of Egyptian, Classical, and Ancient Middle Eastern Art at the BMA, will organize the presentation at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

    Vital Forms: American Art and Design in the Atomic Age, 1940-1960
    October 5, 2001-January 6, 2002
    (Grand Lobby, 1st floor; Morris A. and Meyer Schapiro Wing, 4th floor)
    This interdisciplinary exhibition will present 250 of the most innovative works of the 1940s and 1950s that embraced a vocabulary of organic, or vital, forms. Through architecture, decorative and industrial arts, graphic design, painting, photography, and sculpture, Vital Forms will examine the use of nature-based imagery during the postwar era. The exhibition will show how this aesthetic development represented an affirmation of life in the face of the Cold War and at the dawn of the nuclear age. Exploring the organic visual language adopted by some of the era's most progressive creators, the exhibition will include works of art and design such as paintings by Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko, the "Predicta" television set, images of Eero Saarinen's TWA Terminal at JFK International Airport, Tupperware, the "Slinky," and the Ford Thunderbird. Additionally, the exhibition will trace how that visual vocabulary was applied to objects of popular culture, such as Formica countertop laminate and paperback book covers. The exhibition is the third in a series organized by the BMA that began with The American Renaissance, 1876-1917 (1979) and continued with The Machine Age in America, 1918-1941 (1986).
    Organization: This exhibition will be organized by Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art, and Kevin Stayton, Department Head and Curator of Decorative Arts at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Martin Filler and Mildred Friedman are consulting co-curators, and Dr. Paul Boyer is the project's cultural historian.
    Publication: A full-color catalogue published by the Brooklyn Museum of Art and Harry N. Abrams, Inc., will accompany the exhibition.
    Brooklyn Museum
    of Art:
    October 12, 2001-January 6, 2002

    Walker Art Center:
    February 16-May 12, 2002

    Frist Center for the Visual Arts:
    June 21-September 15, 2002

    Los Angeles County Museum of Art:
    November 17, 2002-February 23, 2003

    Phoenix Art Museum:
    April 4-June 29, 2003

    Support: Vital Forms: American Art and Design in the Atomic Age, 1940-1960 was organized by the Brooklyn Museum of Art. The exhibition was made possible, in part, by generous grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support was provided by the Mary Jean and Frank P. Smeal Foundation, The Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, and the Gramercy Park Foundation. Support for the catalogue was provided through the generosity of Furthermore, the Publication Program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund, as well as a BMA publications endowment created by the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

    Eternal Egypt: Masterworks of Ancient Art from The British Museum
    November 23, 2001-February 24, 2002
    (Beatrice and Samuel A. Seaver Gallery, 5th floor)
    This exhibition will provide a unique opportunity to view more than 140 ancient Egyptian masterpieces from The British Museum in London, many of which have never before traveled to the United States. Many large-scale works will be presented, including the capital of a temple column with a monumental carving of the goddess Hathor, as well as a world-famous portrait statue of the great pharaoh Sesostris III, royal jewelry, and paintings on papyrus illustrating scenes from The Book of the Dead. The exhibition will span the entire pharaonic period, from Dynasty I (about 3100 B.C.) to the period of Roman rule (4th century A.D.).
    Organization: This exhibition was organized by the American Federation of Arts and the British Museum, with guest curator Edna R. Russmann, Curator of Egyptian, Classical, and Ancient Middle Eastern Art at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and W. V. Davies, the British Museum's Keeper of Egyptian Antiquities.
    Support: This exhibition and its national tour are made possible by Ford Motor Company. The official hotel of the Brooklyn leg of exhibition is the New York Marriott Brooklyn. Promotional support for the BMA's presentation is provided by Bloomingdale's. Additional support has been provided by the Benefactors Circle of the AFA.
    Publication: A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies this exhibition.

    Star Wars: The Magic of Myth
    April 5-July 7, 2002
    (Morris A. and Meyer Schapiro Wing, 4th & 5th floors)
    The exhibition showcases original artwork, props, models, costumes, and characters used to create the original Star Wars trilogy—Star Wars: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi—as well as Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Included will be over 30 mannequins, 35 models, and 50 pieces of framed artworks. Among them will be R2-D2, C-3P0, Darth Vader, Yoda, Boba Fett, and Yoda as well as Princess Leia's Slave Girl Costume, Han Solo frozen in carbonite, the Millennium Falcon, and one of Queen Amidala's royal gowns. Interpretive panels throughout the exhibition trace the mythological and literary sources that transform Star Wars into a timeless epic. Drawing upon the work of Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, the exhibition shows how the themes of the young hero, the faithful companions, the endangered maiden, the wise guide, and others resonate through the Star Wars saga and give it an enduring universality. The exhibition will include a 26-minute documentary film, which will play continuously, on the making of the Star Wars saga.
    Star Wars: The Magic of Myth was developed by the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. The exhibition was organized for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES). All artifacts in this exhibition are on loan from the archives of Lucasfilm Ltd. The Brooklyn Museum of Art will be the final stop of a national tour. Catalogue: An illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition, entitled Star Wars: The Magic of Myth, by Mary Henderson, exhibition curator from the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution.

    Exposed: The Victorian Nude
    September 2, 2002-January 5, 2003
    (Schapiro Galleries, 4th floor)
    The nude figure was one of the most controversial subjects in Victorian England. It fired the Victorian imagination as the central focus of arguments about aesthetics, morality, sexuality, and desire—issues that continue to provoke debate. Exposed: The Victorian Nude is the first exhibition to survey the full range of representations of the nude in Victorian art. While the exhibition concentrates mainly on the "high arts" of painting and sculpture, photography, popular illustrations, advertising, and caricature are included to demonstrate the prevalence of the nude in Victorian visual culture and the meaning it held.
    Organization: Exposed: The Victorian Nude has been organized by Tate Britain. Barbara Dayer Gallati, Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture, will coordinate the presentation at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.
    Publication: A fully illustrated catalogue will be available.
    Tour: The Brooklyn Museum of Art will be the only North American stop of this exhibition tour.

    The Adventures of Hamza
    November 1, 2002-January 26, 2003
    (Blum Gallery, 1st floor)
    The Adventures of Hamza (or Hamzanama) is a fantastic adventure story about the exploits of Hamza, uncle of the Prophet Muhammad, who traveled throughout the world spreading the doctrines of Islam. The narrative tells of encounters with giants, demons, and dragons; of abductions and hair - raising chases; and of believers, as well as those who resisted Islam. A favorite story for illustration, it was also recited in coffeehouses from Iran to northern India. The greatest illustrated manuscript of the Hamzanama was made in India for the Mughal Emperor Akbar (reigned 1556-1605) when he was still a teenager. It originally contained 1,400 enormous illustrations, about a tenth of which have survived today. This exhibition brings together some 70 of these illustrations from collections all over the world, and places them alongside new translations of the related text passages. Organization: The Adventures of Hamza has been curated by Dr. John W. Seyller and organized by the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, at the Smithsonian Institution. Amy G. Poster, Chair of the Asian Art Department at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, will coordinate the exhibition at the BMA.
    Publication: A fully illustrated catalogue will accompany this exhibition.

    Great Expectations: John Singer Sargent Painting Children
    September 19-November 30, 2003
    (Schapiro Galleries, 4th floor)
    John Singer Sargent is best known for his portraits of society women. This exhibition will assemble some forty depictions of children by Sargent to present an unexpected and revealing examination of his art. Rather than presenting children in the saccharine, sentimentalized fashion of the day, Sargent often captured them in moments of sober contemplation. Portraying his young subjects as psychologically complex individuals, Sargent redefined children's portraiture, which typically treated childhood as a generic age of innocence.
    Organization: This exhibition will be organized by Barbara Dayer Gallati, Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture, at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.
    Publication: A fully illustrated color catalogue will accompany this exhibition.

    The Last Expression: Art from Auschwitz
    February 29-May 11, 2003
    The Last Expression: Art from Auschwitz will feature two- and three-dimensional art produced by interned victims of Auschwitz and other camps. Artwork served different functions in the camps—catharsis, documentation, resistance, decoration, and official commissions. This exhibition will present the role of visual arts in concentration camps. The works of Jewish inmates, as well as that of resistance fighters from throughout Europe, will be included in this show.
    Organization: The Last Expression: Art from Auschwitz will be organized by the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University. Marilyn Kushner, Curator of Prints and Drawings, will be managing the project at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1995 - 2003. 2001, 070-077 View Original 1 . View Original 2 . View Original 3 . View Original 4 . View Original 5 . View Original 6 . View Original 7 . View Original 8
  • July 2002: Exposed: The Victorian Nude, the first exhibition to chart the moral and aesthetic controversies about the nude body in English visual culture during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837–1901), will make its only stop in North America at the Brooklyn Museum of Art from September 6, 2002 through January 5, 2003. The exhibition, organized by the Tate Britain and touring internationally, includes some 150 works ranging from painting and sculpture to popular illustration, photography, and moving pictures by such artists as Edwin Landseer, Frederic Leighton, William Orpen, Julia Margaret Cameron, Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson), Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, and Edward Burne-Jones.

    English artists began to pay attention to the nude as a primary subject in the 1830s and, as the century wore on, the nude became one of the most hotly debated topics in the arts in England. Alternately interpreted as a sign of aesthetic advancement in the nation’s arts and as a sign of society’s general moral decay, the nude figure also incited and reflected debates concerning sexuality, public health, social welfare, racial attitudes, suffragist issues, religion, and censorship.

    To trace the history of the Victorian nude and its reception, the exhibition is arranged roughly chronologically and is divided into six major themes. The first is The English Nude tracing how the heightened attention to the nude in the 1830s was validated by portraying it in distinctly English literary or historical contexts. Works in this section include William Etty’s Musidora, based on Thompson’s poem, The Seasons, and Edwin Landseer’s Godiva, inspired by the Lady Godiva’s nude ride through the streets of Coventry in the eleventh century.

    The Classical Nude focuses on the next generation of artists, who reacted against the provincialism of English art and began to look increasingly to antique sources, justifying their portrayals of the nude body by basing their subjects on ancient Greek and Roman myths and even sometimes recapitulating poses of well-known classical sculptures in their art. Major works in this section include Frederic Leighton’s painting The Bath of Psyche, and Alfred Gilbert’s bronze Perseus Arming. This part of the installation also includes examples of illustrated periodicals, Parian ware, and a souvenir photograph of famed bodybuilder Eugen Sandow, gathered to demonstrate the extent to which classical sources influenced the depiction of the body at all levels of visual cultural production.

    The Artist’s Studio explores the theme of artist and model, encompassing the practical issues of making art, art training and the role of the live model, and the studio as a mysterious site where the idea of beauty was converted to material form. Central to this section is Edward Burne-Jones’s Pygmalion series, in which the artist falls in love with his own creation of female perfection. Such metaphorical subjects, dressed in the trappings of ancient myth, intersected with then popular and often mistaken notions about the moral profligacy of female models, which in part rested in social resistance to working women and continued attempts by some officials to ban the live model from art schools.

    The Private Nude explores imagery largely produced for private consumption. In works ranging from Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s femme fatale Venus Verticordia, to Aubrey Beardsley’s pornographic illustrations for privately printed books to Lewis Carroll’s rare photographs of nude children, this section investigates the subjective nature of codes of decency against the backdrop of an era during which legislation was first enacted to regulate imagery for the moral welfare of the public.

    The Nude in High Art
    concentrates on the proliferation of nude imagery on a more spectacular scale and in more daring ways at such respected venues as the London Royal Academy and the New Gallery at the end of the nineteenth century. Arthur Hacker’s sensuously poetic The Cloud and John William Waterhouse’s dramatic portrayal of the teenage martyr Saint Eulalia exemplify the greater stylistic and thematic complexities of the late Victorian arts. Such works called into play English resistance to the influence of “vulgar” French art and increasing social anxieties about vice and sexual exploitation that led to the passage of the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Bill raising the age of consent to sixteen.

    The final section, The Modern Nude traces the rise of more naturalistic treatments of the body in studio and outdoor settings. The exhibition concludes on a note of dramatic contrasts carried out in works such as William Orpen’s unidealized depiction of a favorite model in a darkly realistic domestic interior and Henry Scott Tuke’s August Blue, in which a light-filled plein-air manner evokes nostalgic thoughts of youth’s untainted innocence.

    Exposed: The Victorian Nude was conceived by Alison Smith, Senior Program Curator, Tate Britain, and is co-curated by her and Tate Britain curators, Martin Myrone, and Robert Upstone. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue of the same title, edited by Alison Smith and containing contributions by the curators and others. Barbara Dayer Gallati, Curator of American Art at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, is the exhibition coordinator for the Brooklyn showing. The exhibition installation at Brooklyn is designed by Matthew Yokobosky. An audio tour from Acoustiguide will be available ($5, $4 members).

    Exhibition Tour Schedule

    Tate Britain, London, England   November 1, 2000–January 27, 2002
    Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany   March 1, 2002–June 2, 2002
    Brooklyn Museum of Art   September 6, 2002–January 5, 2003
    Kobe City Museum, Kobe, Japan   February–May 2003
    Gedai Museum, Tokyo, Japan   June–August 2003 View Original
Exposed: The Victorian Nude