Verity seen ‘in the flesh’
Following on from my blog about pregnancy in art a few weeks ago, a friend of mine took some photos a week ago of Damien Hurst’s newly installed sculpture, ‘Verity’….
Photos by Jude Carey
The sculpture stands 65 feet tall, looking out from Ilfracombe beach. One side of the piece shows the skin peeled back, to reveal the muscle and bone beneath. The arrival and placement of ‘Verity’ caused a stir in the news because of the choice of subject matter, her dominant size in the landscape and because of the negative comments from some of the local inhabitants.
I wonder if pregnancy is truly becoming more acceptable in art, or whether it is being created as a spectacle, something strange and unusual to wonder at. ‘Verity’, above, reminds me of a sculpture, created through a process of ‘plastination’, by Dr Gunther von Hagens. These two pieces have been shown in his ‘Body Wolds’ shows:
Whilst these cadavers are interesting to look at, I can’t help thinking that they have been produced to shock, and not because of the beauty of the female form.
Pregnant and proud – a new trend for the rich and famous?
Another friend pointed out a news story to me last week, the unveiling of a portrait by the British artist Jonathon Yeo. It shows Sienna Miller, just before the birth of her daughter, Marlowe:
I like the play on contrasts in this painting, the way the hair is almost like an outline drawing, which emphases the ‘3D’ belly coming towards us. I also like the cool colours against the warm, the geometric squares against the rounded silhouette, and the realistic against the pattern. I’m not sure, however, that this natural state requires the wide variety of ‘coverings’ that appear on many images of this painting on the web, presumably placed so carefully to protect her modesty!
The painting of Sienna Miller reminds me of this photograph of Demi Moore, taken by Annie Leibovitz in 1991. It was ground breaking at the time and led to many similar images, including the one above of Claudia Schiffer, in 2010, when she appeared on the cover of Vogue, Germany.
Both women are confident and beautiful, but perhaps this image of ‘perfection’ in pregnancy may help to pile on the pressure for ‘real’ women, in ‘real life’ situations. Being pregnant is a time for most women to relax any anxieties they may have about having the ‘perfect’ body. I do hope these well publicised images do not impinge on this very welcome aspect of pregnancy!
Freud’s Famous Women
Normally known for his incredible passionate paintings of the human figure, Lucian Freud has been commissioned to paint pregnant women, namely Jerry Hall and Kate Moss:
To me, it is great to see evidence of an apparent acceptance of pregnancy as a worthy subject for ‘serious’ painters. I wonder, though, if these two pictures by Freud seem a little restrained, and perhaps lack the visceral power of his other works?
6) ‘Eight Months Gone’, 1997 (Jerry Hall pregnant with her fourth child): http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/celebritynews/8011124/Jerry-Hall-is-shocked-by-Lucian-Freuds-breastfeeding-portrait.html
7) Kate Moss, 2003: http://beautifulstreets.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/remembering-lucian-freud.html
Whatever your point of view, there does seem to be a creeping acceptance of pregnancy in art, but this subject divides artists, critics and the general public alike. There is something about ‘uncovering’ pregnancy that makes some people feel uncomfortable, but I hope this will change, as more artwork on the subject is created…