Friday, January 21, 2011
Flesh for Fantasy: The Nude in Art in America
“[T]he culture of the United States has always been one of massive internal contradictions,” Bram Dijkstra writes in his monumental Naked: The Nude in America, “in which surface harmonies breed countercultures that merely represent the dualistic opposite of the previously dominant cultural pieties.” Dijkstra targets the most “massive internal contradiction” of American society—a puritanically sexually repressed country that produces and consumes behind closed doors more pornography than any other spot on the globe. In Naked, Dijkstra lays bare the counterculture of art celebrating the human body through nude art while simultaneously reflecting the neuroses of the repressive mainstream. To borrow a phrase from Billy Idol, Dijkstra presents “flesh for fantasy” first as the nightmare of Puritanism and, more hopefully, as the perhaps impossible dream of a mature, open society. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Flesh for Fantasy."
[Many thanks to Rizzoli for providing me with the image above from and a review copy of Naked: The Nude in America by Bram Dijkstra.]