Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Depicting ‘Nude men’ and ‘clouds’

Most exhibitions revolving around the provocative or dramatic, even subtle depictions of nudity are limited to female nudes. However, an interesting presentation, entitled ‘Naked men’ at the Leopold Museum shows the changing and diverse depictions of naked men right from 1800 until the present. On the other hand, ‘Clouds’, an upcoming exhibition, will focus on bizarre and bewildering cloud formations that can be perceived and interpreted as mysterious messages, as enigmatic signs, and warnings of impending danger, being artistically presented at the Vienna–based venue.

Changes in the concept of male nudity
Thanks to loans from all over Europe, the exhibition ‘Naked men’ offers an unprecedented overview of the depiction of male nudes. Starting with the period of Enlightenment in the 18th century, the presentation focuses mainly on the time around 1800, on tendencies of Salon Art, as well as on art around 1900 and after 1945.

At the same time, it also features important reference works from ancient Egypt, examples of Greek vase painting and works from the Renaissance. Spanning two centuries, the presentation shows different artistic approaches to the subject, competing ideas of the ideal male model as well as changes in the concept of beauty, body image and values.

Bizarre and bewildering cloud formations
From 1800 landscape painting experienced an impressive heyday. Within this genre, artists paid increasing attention to the motif of clouds. These strange, elusive formations consisting of water, air and light appear as conveyors of different emotions and messages. Bushy clouds in a sunny sky contribute significantly to the positive atmosphere of a landscape and seem to be an almost indispensible feature in idyllic depictions of nature.

A sky traversed by dark rain and thunder clouds, on the other hand, is perceived as threatening, while a band of clouds bathed in the glow of the red evening light sets a melancholy mood. A sense of foreboding is also conveyed by masses of clouds that appear out of control, occasioned either by natural disasters or by man as a result of technical intervention, such as exhaust fumes and atomic explosions. The exhibition will shed light on these different aspects of cloud depictions with a great variety of select examples of European and American painting and photography from 1800 to today.

It will feature works by Caspar David Friedrich, Carl Gustav Carus, William Turner, Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, John Constable, Ferdinand Hodler, Gustav Klimt, Edvard Munch, Gerhard Richter, Anselm Kiefer, Paul Wolff to name but the most internationally famous representatives.

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