How did we shift from epochs wherein artists painted nudes above all else, to an era where hardly any artists bother painting nudes? Is the death of the nude in art the ultimate triumph of Modernism? If art becomes progressively Humanist across time, why does it also become increasingly violent in its formal techniques? Can art depict violence without sexualising it? Is artistic creativity merely symptomatic of obsession, compulsion and delusions? Might paintings best convey psychotic interior worlds despite being mandated to express the social outside world? Is there a way to write from being inside a painting rather than treating it as a window onto the world? Colour Me Dead looks intensely at paintings and sculptures which prompt these questions. What it sees, it writes.
Introduction & Conclusion @ 3,000 words
18 chapters @ 13,000 words
Total = 240,000 words
Categories: art, painting, sculpture, photography, history.
Or: Symbolism, sexuality, psychosis, violence, body.
How did we shift from epochs wherein artists painted nudes above all else, to an era where hardly any artists bother painting nudes? Is the death of the nude in art the ultimate triumph of Modernism? If art becomes progressively Humanist across time, why does it also become increasingly violent in its formal techniques? Can art depict violence without sexualising it? Is artistic creativity merely symptomatic of obsession, compulsion and delusions? Might paintings best convey psychotic interior worlds despite being mandated to express the social outside world? Is there a way to write from being inside a painting rather than treating it as a window onto the world? Colour Me Dead looks intensely at paintings and sculptures which prompt these questions. What it sees, it writes.To the casual viewer, all artists are 'mad' to some degree. This is a view still propagated by populist representations and discussions of artists and the kind of things they do and produce. To art theoreticians, critics and historians, that same 'madness' is a railroaded synonym for passion, expression, individuality, compulsion. The degree of madness, craziness, stupidity or wackiness of artists will rise or fall depending on which perspective is applied to their endeavours. Since the mid-20th century and its dominance of modernist thought in art, the lines have become blurred between generalist denigrations of artistic radicalism and elitist promotion of artistic identities. Now, many artists invoke or feign madness through ironic theatricality or manipulative stunts; both mass media and serious critics extol tales of clinical and tragic madness in artists; historians and amateurs uncover original visionaries in 'outsider' artists otherwise legally declared insane; and all sorts of aberrant behaviour are posited as rebellious expressions of the creative Self. All in all, there seems to be a magnetic pull between artistic 'rule-breaking' and societal 'law-breaking'.
But such clichés and stereotypes divert our attention from precisely how artists who break from conventions in artistic norm mirror non-artists who similarly break from conventions in social behaviour. The raging lunatic, the psychotic murderer, the serial rapist, the pornography addict, even the nominal sufferer of autism, aspergers or obsessive-compulsive behaviour - all these figures find their actions symbolically played out by artists from across the last three centuries. Sometimes artists seem to forecast states and syndromes of psychological disorder; other times they appear to mimic or quote such conditions. Despite this chicken-or-egg situation, clear trajectories can be drawn. From Pablo Picasso’s grotesque shapes to Jackson Pollock’s splattered landscapes to Andy Warhol’s mortician’s gaze to Hermann Nitsch’s orgiastic rituals to Yves Klein’s exploitative anthropometries, modern artists have flirted with violent depictions of bodily configuration. They collectively pulp and disfigure the idealistic and naturalistic nude, and in place present an aggressive deconstruction of the body. By increasingly spotlighting the nude as the focus for these actions, they have intensified unsettling fusions of sex and violence in their image-making. In doing so, they have vicariously acted out a type of violence that typifies the modernist ethos, wherein human life is abstracted into a pure bodily state.
Colour Me Dead proposes to trace a formal history and popular mythology of ‘the mad artist’ by seeking out the origins and developments which led to this modernist crisis of the body and its graphic depiction. It queries what it means for an artist to obsessively perform such symbolic acts upon the human body. And it equally queries what it means for a society to frame these contentious images with ideologies of beauty, truth and nature. Crucially, Colour Me Dead ponders how the corporal luminosity of a Jean Leon Gérome ingenue, the diffuse glow of a Eduard Degas nubile, or the voluptuous curve of a Henry Moore nude have been accepted to the extent that the psycho-sexual ramifications of their fleshy portrayals have been neutralised. In doing so, Colour Me Dead seeks to evaluate Modernist destructive drives as extensions of impulses born by Romantic obsessions with corporeal desire, bodily possession and sexual transcendence. Viewed through the gradual violence accorded the depiction of the nude - from the slow boil of Romanticism through to the heated explosion of Modernism - many of art history's icons of unbridled eros can be re-classified as pathologically rapacious and symptomatic of sexually explosive schisms within the Self.
It is in this hall of mirrors built of blood splattered paintings, unimaginable sex crimes and unstoppable movie psychos that art, sex and psychos combine and reconstruct each other. Colour Me Dead places the viewer dead centre as witness to the pathological conditions which govern a broad range of artistic approaches to imaging the muse, the nude and the artist.
Research breakdown & critical focus of the book
How the muse is framed, frozen, fixed, fermented
How the body is spotlit, highlighted, centralised, telescoped
Artists: Anne-Louis Girodet de Roucy, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres, Jean Leon Gerôme, John Simons, Edward John Poynter, Arnold Böcklin, John Henry Fuseli, Gabriel von Max, J.H. Hasselhorst, Richard Tennant Cooper, J.M.W. Turner, John Atkinson Grimshaw, Luis Ricardo Falero, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, John Rheinhard Weguelin, Henri Gervex, Fritz Steinmetz-Noris, Jean-Jules Antoine, Raoul Duffy, Victor Brauner, Balthus
How the muse titlates, lures, entraps, haunts
Artists: (Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres, Gustave Courbet, Francesco Hayez, Alexandre Cabanel, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, John Collier, John Everett Millais, John Atkinson Grimshaw, Edward Burne-Jones, John William Waterhouse, Knut Ekwall, Edward John Poynter, Arnold Böcklin, Nils Blommér, Francis Danby, Hans Makart, Carlos Schwabe, Franz von Stuck, Alfred Kubin, Max Ernst, Rene Magritte, Germaine Richier
Where the body is left for dead, to be exposed, to decompose, to be discovered
Artists: Caspar David Freidrich, Arnold Böcklin, Nils Blommér, Leon Frederic, John Atkinson Grimshaw, Maximilian Lenz, Frederick McCubbin, John William Waterhouse, Albert Beck Wenzell, Odilon Redon, Hans Arp, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, Ana Mendieta, Georg Baselitz, Paul McCarthy, Anne Geddes, Spencer Tunick, Chiho Aoshima, Are Mokkelbost
How the body is transmogrified, mutated, fused, collaged
Artists: Arnold Böcklin, Edward Burne-Jones, Jean Delville, Fernand Khnopff, Gustav Klimt, Franz von Stuck, Boleslas Biegas, Balthus, Rene Magritte, Andre Masson, Victor Brauner, Toyen, Ed Roth, H. R. Giger, Hajime Sorayama, Jake and Dinos Chapman
How the body threatens, devastates, dessicates, devours
Artists: Jean Baptiste Greuze, Jean Antoine Houdon, Henry Singleton, Frederick Sandys, John Collier, Pierre Bonnard, Herbert James Draper, Gustave Courbet, Alfred Kubin, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Otto Dix, André Masson, Roberto Matta, Hans Belmer, Lee Bontecou, Niki de Saint Phalle, Tom Wesselmann, Magdelena Abakanowicz, Valie Export
How the body is laid out, kept flat, left lying, made horizontal
Artists: Andrea Mantegna, Hans Holbein, Francisco De Zurbaran, Leon Frederick, Arnold Böcklin, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, William Etty, Luigi Gonzaga Giuditti, Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant, John William Waterhouse, Leighton Frederick, Käthe Kollwitz, Francis Bacon, Balthus, Frida Kahlo, Hermann Nitsch, Lucien Freud, Gerhard Richter
How the body is assembled, operated, utilised, staged
Artists: Franocis Boucher, John Gottfried Schadow, John Gibson, Hans Makart, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Jean Leon Gerôme, Louis-Ernest Barrias, Lovis Corinth, Franz von Stuck, Jimonez Aranda, Hans Belmer, Gil Elvgren, Allen Jones, George Segal, John de Andrea, Duane Hanson, Peter Berlin, Cindy Sherman, Tom Wesselmann, Hajime Sorayama
How the body is repositioned, contorted, reshaped, reconstituted
Artists: Bartholomeus Spranger, Charles Bell, Théodore Géricault, Auguste Rodin, Georges Daoud Corm, Marcel Duchamp, Umberto Boccioni, Otto Dix, Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Rudolph Schlichter, Andre Kertesz, Dorothea Tanning, Willem de Kooning, Hans Arp, Francis Bacon, Peter Saul, Louise Bourgeois, Joel-Peter Witkin, Jenny Saville, Erwin Olaf
How the body resembles, is molded, is mimicked, distorts
Artists: Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse, Man Ray, Gaston Lachaise, Hans Bellmer, Dora Maar, Hans Arp, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Francois Lunven, Louise Bourgeois, Dorothea Tanning, Hugette Caland, Jeff Koons, Sarah Lucas, Marc Quinn, Hideaki Kawashima, Anne Geddes
How the artist declares, condems, denounces, destroys
Artists: Hans Baldung, Artemisia Gentileschi, Augustus Leopold Egg, Albert von Keller, Emmanuel Fremiet, Jan Frans DeBoever, Francis Picabia, Egon Schiele, Maria Martins, Francisco De Goya, Pablo Picasso, André Masson, Jackson Pollock, George Grosz, Yoko Ono,Otto Muehl, Vito Acconci
How the body is punctured, ruptured, penetrated, eviscerated
Artists: Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Alberto Giacometti, Alberto Burri, Lucio Fontana, Gordon Matta-Clarke, Jean-Paul Goude, Niki de Saint Phalle, Jean Tinguely, Chris Burden, Andy Warhol, William Burroughs, John Chamberlain, Gunnar Aagaard Andersen, Carolee Schneemann, Diego Velazquez (defaced), Michelangelo (defaced), Chris Offili (defaced)
How the artist expresses, projects, expels, stains
Artists: Wols, Jackson Pollock, Bernard Requichot, Yves Klein, Cy Twombly, Hermann Nitsch, César Baldaccini, Lynda Benglis, Paul McCarthy, Dennis Oppenheim, Yoko Ono, Carolee Schneemann, Vito Acconci, Andy Warhol, Ana Mendiata, Francis Bacon, Takashi Murakami, Chris Burden
Where both artist and body are documented, traced, incriminated, analysed
Artists: Thomas Couture, Jean-Joseph Weert, Antoine Wiertz, Henri-Camille Danger, Franz von Stück, Edgar Degas, Walter Sickert, George Grosz, Otto Dix, Hippolyte Bayard, Alphonse Bertillon, Paul Nougé, Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Robert Rauschenberg, Salvidor Dali, Duane Hanson, Cindy Sherman, Francis Bacon, Iri & Toshi Muraki, Robert Polidori
What the body becomes, proves, states, encodes
Artists: The Belvedere Torso, Peter Paul Reubens, Kusozu illustrations, Jacques-Fabien Gautier D'Agoty, Jan van Rymsdyk, Auguste Clésinger, Adolph Menzel, Thomas Eakins, Adolf Zeigler, Marcel Marien, Ivan Allbright, Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, Alina Szapocznikow, Helmet Newton, George Segal, Jana Sterbak, Jenny Holzer, Ron Mueck, Eric Fischl, Fernando Botero
How the artist, muse and body appear, imprint, contain, resemble
Artists: Jacques-Louis David, Emile Beau, Jacques-Raymond Brascassat, Léon Bonnat, L’Inconnue de la Seine, Paul Richer, Käthe Kollwitz, Otto Dix, Victor Brauner, Jean Fautrier, Andy Warhol, Chuck Close, Ana Mendieta, Ed Gein, Joel-Peter Witkin, the National Library of Medicine, Marc Quinn, Stan Winston, War President, Walter Schels, Marlene Dumas, Martin Schoeller
How the artist maims, marks, scarifies, mutilates the body
Artists: Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, Gustave Courbet, Adrien Tournachon, Adolfo Wildt, Basil Wolverton, Mary Barnes, Anita Steckel, Jeffrey Silverthorne, Valie Export, Gina Pane, Chris Burden, Stelarc, Bob Flanagan, Marina Abramovic, Angelyne, Phoebe Gloeckner, Orlan, Paul McCarthy, Irwin Olaf, Arthur Elsenaar
How the body is gendered, differentiated, separated, socialised
Artists: John Henry Fuseli, Edgar Degas, Auguste Rodin, Maximilian Lenz, Maria Martins, Man Ray, Luis Ricardo Falero, Jean Delville, Francis Picabia, Rene Magritte, Mimi Parent, Pablo Picasso, Martin van Maele, George Quaintance, Piere Molinier, Louise Bourgeoise, Martha Rosler, Lynda Benglis, Tom of Finland, Robert Williams, John Currin
How the body is overcome, obliterated, dispersed, atomised
Artists: Antonio Allegri, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Nicolas De Largillière, Hans Makart, Jean Deville, Camille Claudel, Séraphine Soudbinine, Charles Sims, Toyen, Hans Bellmer, Virgil Finlay, Jackson Pollock, Jean Dubuffet, Magda Cordell, Erro, Vangel Naumovski, Lynda Benglis, Alex Grey
How the body is absented, denied, buried, ghosted