Details from a Billion Dollar Nudes Show

Gagosian Gallery in Midtown put up about a billion dollars worth of nudes, mostly men painting women. Here are a few details from the fleshy romp through modern and contemporary figure painting.

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John Currin

What always surprises me when I’m lucky enough to get in front of a Currin is the brushyness of it.  The old master technique is visible on the surface, not secretive at all.

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Aristide Maillol

The patina on this is stunning, lustrous.  You could treat a bronze cast of a clod of dirt with it, and I’d be mesmerized.  (A note of caution, I crushed my hand on the door handle going out to the roof deck. There’s not clearence for a hand to go between the handle and the door jam, rather odd really.)

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Lucien Freud

The glass between the viewer and the art is always disappointing (Francis Bacon’s suffer similarly), but it makes sense as this work is likely worth 8 digits before the decimal.  Get up close to the hands and feet before the guards yell at you, it’s worth a close look

 

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Cézanne

This Cézanne is basically a detail in the show, it’s tiny and in a huge frame (I’ve cropped about half of it out). The clarity of this piece in person is remarkable, the brushstrokes are fractured, stitched together like a quilt made by a drunkard, but the overall effect is crystalline.  I think this guy Cézanne knows what he’s doing, I’d like to sign up for the newsletter.

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Currin

Another example of Currin’s subtle touch.  His sexually explicit and provocative content provides a convenient excuse for the prudish art viewer to dismiss his genius.  There’s probably not a greater figure painter working today than John Currin.  His women are attenuated, extra-vertebraed impossibilities that are marvelous to behold even as a close inspection shows you they’re about to rip apart.

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