Exhibition from 10 May to 28 May 2023

« Human, Sensual, Painful »

in the gallery of the Puchheimer Kulturcentrum PUC

Osker-Maria-Graf-Strasse 2,



« Human, sensual, painful »

Nude painting by Marie-Kathrin Reiter-Daspet and Tom Hawes


In Western art, the nude has been a venerable tradition since antiquity. During the Middle Ages, with the rise of Christianity, artists painted mainly biblical representations, such as the Madonna and Child or the Crucifixion. The only biblical theme in which naked bodies appear is Adam and Eve. It was only during the Renaissance that artists like Leonardo da Vinci and others returned to the study of anatomy, and the nude began to depict not only biblical themes but also mythological subjects, such as Botticelli's 'Birth of Venus', Michelangelo painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and sculpting 'David'. Later on, artists like Manet, Klimt, and Modigliani depicted erotic female nudes. Expressionists like Schiele and Kirchner even portrayed nudity provocatively. Picasso then painted male desire in his series 'Dora and the Minotaur', and after World War II, Bacon and Lucian Freud literally created humans made of flesh and blood.


Male painters have long been depicting the beauty and sensuality of women, but it is rare to find female painters until the 20th century. Why? Partly because women have had to wait for gender equality and continue to face barriers to this day. But also because the fact that women can paint is suppressed in public. However, Artemisia Gentileschi had already painted the beheading of Holofernes by Judith around 1620, demonstrating strength and determination, and showing a new way of seeing women: independent and self-confident. Suzanne Valadon creates for the first time (we know of) as a woman, male nudes of her young lover, showing sensuality, beauty, and masculinity. The desire of a woman looking at a man. Paula Modersohn-Becker addresses a typical but rarely depicted women's theme by painting herself pregnant and nude. Tamara de Lempicka depicts confident women dressed like men. Louise Bourgeois poses for photographs by Mapplethorpe with her giant phallus sculpture under her arm. The same photographer shows in the 1980s very explicit photos of men in all their 'masculinity'.


How about the male nude? Among the Greeks, it has been praised through the centuries, but without mythology and martyrs, a naked male body is a rarity. Dürer does paint himself nude in a self-portrait. Michelangelo and Caravaggio paint male nudes. However, it is clear that this is a taboo, and often leaves are used to conceal or added later, as is the case with the Sistine Chapel. Lucian Freud paints male nudes and himself.

       What does the nude mean to us in the 21st century? With this exhibition, we aim to initiate a dialogue: how does a woman perceive the female and male nude, and how does it differ for a man? We assume that each person carries within them a share of femininity and masculinity, especially among artists. Therefore, we want to show nudes where women are not only beautiful and sensual, but also assertive. Not just men in their 'masculinity', but also their delicate and sensual side. Ultimately, we are all simply human beings, moved by so many emotions. It is also an attempt to show the essence of humanity, irrespective of gender, as the nude is not only a baring of the body, but also a baring of the psyche. Our humanity is built on our weaknesses and strengths, and we are permeated by so many emotions, ranging from pain to sensuality.