The human body, unclothed, has long been a subject for artists over the centuries. Some, such as the new works by Paul McCarthy (Hauser & Wirth London, South Gallery, until November 1st), may prove somewhat challenging to many viewers, especially the scatological elements. However, I will share the two below for your consideration, if not necessarily approval, because they are part of our artistic heritage.
Aleah Chapin – Maiden, Mother, Child & Crone, Flowers Gallery, 21 Cork Street, London W1, until 8 November 2014
One may certainly think of Rubens when one sees this new body of work by Aleah Chapin. Her basis for these paintings, which shows the different stages in a woman’s life-cycle, is derived from various intellectual concepts, including Neopaganism.
One could argue that it is also a record of how people age and how different age groups relate or interact. Indeed how society reacts.
Egon Schiele: The Radical Nude, The Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2, until 18th January 2015
Well there is little doubt that the word “radical” may still apply to viewers’ thoughts on seeing these works because they are certainly full on. Indeed, in 1912, Schiele was even imprisoned for two months for contravening public decency and some of his works confiscated.
The thirty-eight drawings and watercolours in the show chart the years from his breakthrough as an artist in 1910 to his untimely death in 1918, during the Spanish Flu epidemic, at the age of twenty eight. A sad end since by 1915 his work was starting to be collected and just as his artistic star was about to rise high in the skies death intervened. What is certain is that he most certainly changed the way artists would depict the human figure in the 20th century and beyond.