This September York Art Gallery collaborates with Dr Jo Applin (University of York) to curate an exhibition that challenges ideas about the representation of skin in the art world. Flesh will explores intrinsically universal issues such as the ageing body, race, gender and the touch and appearance of skin – whether it be human or animal, dead or living.
The show comprises original paintings by the likes of Francis Bacon, Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin, Peter Paul Rubens – whose work often portrayed different races of European skin through various shades of colour and Edgar Degas – whose paintings are infamous for delicate portraits of soft pink skin. The collection of works show demonstrate how the physical form has been the subject of many artists’ work over the years and how, although part of our everyday existence, often it is put under scrutiny.
Contemporary pieces by established international artists are also displayed alongside these paintings to show the comparison between classic and modern styles of art within the umbrella notion of material existence. Artists Bruce Nauman, John Coplans and Adriana Varejeo, as well as Jenny Saville and Sarah Lucas, have their work on show at the York Art Gallery exhibition this year. Saville is renowned for her fleshy oil paintings of full-figured females and confronting the issues of mortality and classical figuration, whilst Lucas challenges sexual stereotypes with the provocative nature of her work – often being compared to the styles of Francis Bacon and Damien Hurst.
As well as the exhibition, a publication is launched as a feature of Flesh, based on new research conducted by University Art History lecturer and co-curator, Dr Jo Applin – whose work focuses on the presence of gender, sexuality and feminism throughout the history of art. A diverse events program, including a symposium, accompanies the exhibition.
Flesh, 23 September 23 – 19 March , York Art Gallery. Find out more: www.yorkartgallery.org.uk
1. NUD 4, Sarah Lucas. Copyright of the artist. Courtesy Sadie Coles, UQ London.