Dreams of Desire 65 (Ingres)

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The Turkish Bath-Jean Auguste Dominque Ingres 1862-1863
The French Revolution had swept away the frivolous excesses of Rococo (see Dreams of Desire 64 (Boucher’s Odalisques) and two competing tendencies dominated French during the first half of the Nineteenth Century: the wild grandiose Romanticism of Delacroix and the somber, stately Neo-Classicism best personified by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres.

Ingres painted a number of important erotic paintings including the Valpinçon Bather of 1808, La Grande Odalisque of 1814 and L’Odalisque à l’esclave from 1839, however his most famous painting is The Turkish Bath from 1862-1863, completed when Ingres was 83 years old.

Portraying a group of nude women in a bath at a harem, The Turkish Bath is suffused with a lush hothouse atmosphere that heightens the erotic charge of the painting. Ingres erotic works would have a major impact upon the Modernists including Picasso and Matisse while the Post Modernist German artist Gerhard Richter would base his painting Bathers upon Ingres’s masterpiece.

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The Valpincon Bather-Ingres 1808
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La Grand Odalisque-Ingres 1814

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Odalisque with Slave-Ingres 1839

(Just a reminder to inform you that my book Motion No. 69 is available from November 30th 2017 from Amazon).

 

 

Sisters

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Gerhard Richter-Schwestern 1967
The German artist Gerhard Richter is famous for the astounding hyper-realism of his photo-pictures (see The Reader), smudged interpretations of various masterpieces by the Old Masters (see Bathers) and a truly breath-taking versatility, however his greatest contribution to painting is probably  his introduction of the blur in pictorial representation. After centuries of painters seeking to reproduce nature in ever starker clarity, Richter shifts the focus, blurs the outlines and forces us to question our perceptions. Richter achieves the effect by a typically torturous route; using photographs (the invention of photography, lest we forget, was the single greatest contributing factor in the creation of all the various schools of modernism) which he then paints an exact reproduction of and then proceeds to accentuate any blurring present in the original.

1967’s Schwestern (Sisters) is a fine example of the technique (it also recently sold at Sotheby’s London for over four million dollars). The whole painting has a decided air of ambiguity, the salacious poses of the scantily clad women and their over-eager smiles is suggestive and strikingly at odds with the title. The heavy blurring only adds to the air of uncertainty as to what we are exactly witnessing.

Bathers

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Gerhard Richter-Badende (Bathers) 1967
As I noted in my previous post on the extraordinary German artist Gerhard Richter (see The Reader) his constant re-invention, technical mastery and breath of subject matter has created a body of work without parallel in contemporary art.

He has also shown an constant engagement with and re-visioning of the work of the Old Masters, including Vermeer, Titian and Ingres. Badende, featured above, takes as its starting point Ingres’s The Turkish Bath, one of the most sensual and erotic paintings ever, while Kleine Badende below references the same artist’s The Small Bather. Grey is to Richter what blue was to Yves Klein (Dreams of Desire 48 (Blue), however the smudged obscurity of Badende actually accentuates the erotic possibilities inherent in the scene. Richter’s third wife Sabine Moritz is the model for Kleine Badende, painted in the blurry photo-realistic style that he is justifiably famous for.

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Gerhard Richter-Kleine Badende (Small Bather) 1996