[Milton-L] Nude or Naked?
Horace Jeffery Hodges
jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Tue Jul 26 15:21:37 EDT 2011
William Grimes has elaborated on his point and added a couple of illustrations:
Naked implies, on the part of he artist, an unblinking, even harsh, depiction of
the body. On the sitter's side (as in Manet's Olympia or Goya's Maja, a
brazenness, a lack of shame that seems to say, I see you looking at me and I
don't care, I'm looking right back at you.
For convenience, here are links to the paintings:
I find interesting the suggestion by Grimes that "naked" implies "a lack of
shame" since one consequence of the Fall for Adam and Eve was shame at their
"nakedness," though I suppose this gets us into issues of translation.
From: Horace Jeffery Hodges <jefferyhodges at yahoo.com>
To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Tue, July 26, 2011 6:27:22 AM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Nude or Naked?
You will all recall that I called attention to this obituary of Lucien Freud by
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.
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