Figure the Future
By Michael Newberry
Presented by The Atlas Society, 2008
The premise of this talk is that the heroic and beautiful nude is contemporaneously linked with human evolutionary advancements.
The great nudes witnessed the development of individuals rights in politics, with reason replacing superstition in the humanities, and with authenticity of the human spirit rather than the status symbols of the ruled and rulers. It also was widely appreciated prior to the dawn of democracy and Greek developments of science, philosophy, and aesthetics; prior to the birth of art history, artist’s anatomy (under penalty of death if discovered doing autopsies in Michelangelo’s time); and prior to the replacement of monarchies with democracy.
0:17 Introduction by Robert Bidinotto
3:03 The Nude as the Personification of the Individual The Status of Clothed Figures Ramasus, Queen Elizabeth 1, Ingres, Millet, Whistler, Wyeth, Pearlstein, and Richter.
15:12 Individuality Expressed Through the Nude Courbet, Durer, Bellini, Boucher, Manet, and Renoir.
23:26 The Best Within-Many humans want a balance of happiness, beauty, wealth, health, and good relationships. One device artists developed was proportions of the human figure, a very hard-won technical milestone, to give us not a lesson but what a successful human stance looks like. First Artists to Sign Works, Polyclitus, Praxiteles, Humans as godlike.
27:39 Nude as Inspiration Michelangelo, Galileo, Joseph Dauben, Capuletti.
30:05 The Nude Adjacent to Moving Humanity Forward: Interesting Cultural Developments — Bridging Ancient Greece to the Renaissance – Orbit of Individuals Solon, Democracy, Aristophanes, Botticelli, Translation of Aristotle, Vasari (First Art Historian), Madame de Pompadour, Diderot, Manet’s Olympia, Hugo, Bizet, Copley, American Revolution, Mercy Otis Warren, Rossetti, Eakins, Walt Whitman, Emerson.
42:53 An Aside: Turning Leaves of Grass to Trash to Postmodern Art
44:18 Nazis and the Heroic Nude
45:43 Cultural Conflict — Sabotaging the State The Last Judgment, Heroic Nudes Create Conflict with Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Religions.
47:50 Where We Are Today Lucian Freud, Schipperheyn, Collins, and Feldman.
51:19 Q & A Roman Copies, Nudes Convey Individuality of Traits, Erotic Elements, Postmodernists are Grumpy People, Heroic Nude Helped to Defeat the Nazis? Humanism vs Christianity reflected in Renaissance Art, Courageous Figurative Artists, Nudes as Dangerous to Status Quo Cultures, Obscenity, Michelangelo’s Popular Appeal, Propaganda, and Appropriation of Great Art.
Michael Newberry lives in Idyllwild, California with his dog Frida. He has exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, Athens, and Rome. He shows at the White Cloud Gallery in Washington D.C. Follow him on Instagram at @artnewberry.