[Milton-L] Nude or Naked?

Horace Jeffery Hodges jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Mon Jul 25 17:27:22 EDT 2011

You will all recall that I called attention to this obituary of Lucien Freud by 
William Grimes:

I pointed to this distinction made by Grimes in speaking of Freud's nude 
His female subjects in particular seemed not just nude but obtrusively naked. 
Mr. Freud pushed this effect so far, [John] Russell once noted, "that we 
sometimes wonder if we have any right to be there."
I wondered what Grimes himself meant, so I wrote him and received this reply:
I did not really give a lot of thought to the distinction, which seems to me 
just a matter of art-historical convention in most cases. We usually refer to 
nudes, and painting from the nude, especially with older artists, but in 
discussing the particulars of  a painting, it seems to me that one can say that 
a figure is nude, naked or unclothed and it all means the same thing, although I 
agree that "naked" has a certain force in English, and this word applies 
particularly to Freud's nudes. If you say that his subjects are not just nude 
but naked, that's a nuance that's meaningful, and most people would understand 
what you were driving at. I don't honestly know whether this comes up a lot for 
art critics or art historians.
The difference for Grimes is one of nuance, "naked" being rather more forceful 
than "nude." That's not much to go on, but we now at least know more or less 
what Grimes meant.
Jeffery Hodges
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