The Exploration of Female Nudes in Art

By Nat Urwin


This assignment will show examples of the exploration of female nudes in art from the present day back to 1866. The pieces of artwork shown in this assignment will be linked to psychoanalysis and realism, and will be discussed using cultural, social and metaphorical analysis. Sources used for this include; LUCIAN FREUD PORTRAITS (2012), LUCIAN FREUD (2002), and Lucian Freud (1988), these aid in gathering understanding about Lucian Freud at the time of, and previous to, his selected works. Other sources include; information about Jenny Saville at the Royal Academy of Arts website (2012), information about Gustave Courbet and his work at (2012), and The Essentials of PSYCHO-ANALYSIS (2005), which enables an interesting concept on the particular pieces of artwork through the Sigmund Freud’s ‘Femininity’ section within his ‘Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality’. Research into Realism and how this is a large factor in these pieces of art is sourced from such as arthistory/c19th/realism.htm (2012).

Key Ideas

- Jenny Saville challenging the ideas of mass social peer pressure and consumerism of women looking a certain way by having the opposite way in her painting but with markings of a plastic surgeon’s plans. -Lucian Freud’s paintings showing fleshy and emotional figures broken down using Sigmund Freud’s essay into ‘Feminism’, and the social views around this. -Gustav Courbet’s innovation into Realism in search of truth contrasting with the society’s denial through romanticism.

Cultural Context

Saville - (1970 - Present) - mass obsession with manipulation and alteration, eg. plastic surgery etc. Freud - (1922 - 2011) - Escaping Nazism, growing up in the boom of abstractism but being interested in expressionism. Courbet - (1819 - 1877) - Times of Romanticism and Neo-Classicism, changes to Realism.

Key Individuals

Figure 01. Gustav Courbet

Figure 03. Jenny Saville Figure 02. Lucian Freud

Historical Examples

Figure 04. Gustave Courbet, (1866), L'Origine du Monde

Figure 05. Gustave Courbet, (1866), Le Sommeil

Contemporary Examples

Figure 06. Lucian Freud, (1978), Rose

Figure 07. Jenny Saville, (1993), Plan Figure 07. Lucian Freud, (1992), Two Women

In conclusion the creation of these pieces of artwork of nude women were not designed to fit happily into society, but were created to free the artist’s feelings into visual masterpieces. The artists were painting not only what they saw but were observing the deeper parts of culture and society around them and responding to it. Such as Courbet freeing himself from romanticism and neoclassicism in pursuit of the truth by being an innovator in realism. Saville’s selected piece ‘Plan’ challenges the present culture which has become obsessed with manipulation and her piece shows her response to plastic surgery by having this large, fleshy nude woman at a defining angle with surgeon drawings all over her body. Freud’s work explores the deeper side of private lives, giving the viewer a feeling that they are somehow invading a private moment of somebody’s life by viewing them the way he poses his subjects. These paintings challenge society giving images to the feeling of repression and very much so creating the feeling of uneasiness which essentially draws more attention to it through curiosity.

S. Howgate, M. Auping, J. Richardson, 2012. LUCIAN FREUD PORTRAITS. 1st ed. London: National Portrait Gallery Publications. Lawrence, G, 1988. Lucian Freud. 2nd ed. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd. Feaver, W, 2002. LUCIAN FREUD. 1st ed. London: Tate Publishing . Bernard, B, 1996. LUCIAN FREUD. 1st ed. New York: Random House. Lucian Freud Portraits, 2004. [DVD] Jake Auerbach, Great Britain: Jake Auerbach Films LTD. Gustave Courbet - The complete works. 2012. Gustave Courbet - The complete works. [ONLINE] Available at: . [Accessed 24 March 2012]. Gustave Courbet (1819–1877) | Thematic Essay | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2012. Gustave Courbet (1819–1877) |Thematic Essay | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art. [ONLINE] Available at: . [Accessed 24 March 2012]. Jenny Saville RA - Painters - Royal Academicians - Royal Academy of Arts. 2012. Jenny Saville RA - Painters - Royal Academicians - Royal Academy of Arts. [ONLINE] Available at: painters/jenny-saville-ra,593,AR.html . [Accessed 25 March 2012]. Freud, S, 2005. The Essentials of PSYCHO-ANALYSIS. 2nd ed. London:Vintage. Realism - Realism Art. 2012. Realism - Realism Art. [ONLINE] Available at: c19th/realism.htm. [Accessed 29 March 2012].

List of Illustrations
Figure 01. 2012. [ONLINE] Available at: kzMumJ8MMtE/s400/gustave-courbet.jpg. [Accessed 29 March 2012]. Figure 02. 2012. [ONLINE] Available at: 2011/7/21/1311284482333/Lucian-Freud-007.jpg. [Accessed 29 March 2012]. Figure 03. 2012. . [ONLINE] Available at: JohnieShandKyddJennySaville.jpg. [Accessed 29 March 2012] Figure 04. Gustave Courbet, (1866), L'Origine du Monde [ONLINE].  Available at: collections/works-in-focus/search.html?no_cache=1&zoom=1&tx_damzoom_pi1%5BshowUid %5D=2406 [Accessed 24 March 12]. Figure 05. Gustave Courbet, (1866), Le Sommeil [ONLINE].  Available at: commons/0/06/Courbet_Sleep.jpg [Accessed 24 March 12]. Figure 06. Lucian Freud, (1978), Rose [ONLINE]. Available at: lucian_freud/rose.jpg [Accessed 25 March 12]. Figure 07. Lucian Freud, (1992), Two Women [ONLINE]. Available at: 6136/5965356261_a7822f302c_b.jpg  [Accessed 25 March 12] Figure 08. Jenny Saville, (1993), Plan [ONLINE]. Available at: wartist110-7.jpg[Accessed 25March 12].

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful