An ambivalent relationship to be sure. Antagonistic. Lots of arguments. But breaking up is what they are wired to do. The quarrels, the separation, and the inevitable efforts to try and patch things up with a first love of the male artist: the nude. Before modernism descended on us in all the glory of its confusion and incomprehensibility, the nude was the staple of art, the bread and butter before the Salon ultimately prostituted it and abstraction relegated her in a series of spills and splatters, to the scrap heap of art history. Poor soul. She deserved a better fate than to run into this stream of bad boyfriends, seduced herself by the nihilistic rejection of classical beauty….
“Falling in love” is generally recognized as being a common state of mind, and, in spite of Freud’s diagnostic label, is not considered abnormal. Its opposite, “falling in hate” is not so widely acknowledged. Yet I believe it to be about as common, and a great deal more dangerous.
– Anthony Storr, Human Destructiveness
…With modernism, the, the conceptual, fathomless theories of a Duchamp, the nude survived as a function to support as a peg, an idea of display or theory. It was stretched, compressed, shattered, and generally banged around until finally it disappeared after three generations of artists had had the time of their lives violating every played out tradition and building a new tradition that culminated in the abstract bacchanal and later, other post-humanist ideas of the female, some of the perverted and warped variety.
With relief, abstraction at least, was brought to heel; but something seems irretrievably lost since then: to get onto some sort of course, without giving the appearance of retrogression, the enthusiasm for the nude continues to represent itself in an eccentric fashion that still displays the fear of walking into the old academic traps. The most interesting period of this second marriage period was in the early 1960′s before the post-modernists began the inevitable banalization, duplicity, and cheating on her and their own versions of repetitious exercises in dribble and splat that had originally debased the New York School….
Well, yes, we must face it: the little woman — or, more specifically, her body — has, throughout history though to varying degrees, been considered dirty, diseased, putrid — the more so, perhaps, as she is actually desirable.
– Wolfgang Lederer, The Fear of Woman
…The painters from California’s Bay Area were a serious counterweight to the Picasso/De Kooning school of sum of destructions that had so imploded with abstract expressionism. Led by David Park, Richard Diebenkorn and Elmer Bischoff, they hit a bull’s eye with canvases offering all the dash, the excitment, the expert manipulation of pigment, the bravado, and the skilfully organized color constructions typical of abstract constructionism at its best, but grafted these virtues onto paintings of figures who stood in brilliantly sunny spots and looked out at the observer as if saying “here we are-at last.”
Faced by these presences, the New York abstractionists who had not gone completely blind felt as if they had been deceived. Suffering from an aesthetic hangover the morning after a ten year debauch, thy were suddenly confronted by pink cheeked colleagues who had left the party early and had risen at dawn to do their setting up exercises.
( see link at end) …the task that made for genuine art — was understood to be the creation of new modes of beauty, by building on old ones, or ingeniously reconfiguring them, or else preserving — one might say academicizing — them, which is better than abandoning and destroying them, reducing them to historical rubble. Art existed to articulate and will the ideal with whatever creativity it had at its command, reminding human beings that without the ideal they are less than human, certainly less than they are capable of becoming. …
…The early woman images convey love — the women are treated kindly, respectfully. The later images are full of murderous hatred, as their battered, perversely distorted bodies — sadistically slashed and hacked and finally torn to pieces, their skin shredded so that it can no longer contain its flesh, which spills and spins out of control, leaving their bodies barely recognizable — strongly suggest. De Kooning’s woman is certainly a far cry from the classical beautiful Venus, not only because she’s ugly and repulsive, but because she’s hateful and malicious. Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/willem-de-kooning-at-moma-10-6-11.asp