Grin And Bare It

This week the Getty Museum debuts “In Focus: The Nude,” a survey of the history of the photographic nude. The exhibit includes works by Man Ray, Thomas Eakins, Edgar Degas and Diane Arbus and runs through February.

“The unclothed human figure became a subject of photography shortly after the announcement of the invention of the medium in 1839,” the Getty said in a release. ” As the nude in Western art was almost always idealized, some found photographic realism undesirable and stylistic attempts were made to transform it through a series of conventions that suggested the ‘purity’ of ancient Greece.

“During the first decades of the 20th century,” the release continues, “the gradual relaxation of Victorian-age social constraints led to increased experimentation in the genre. Photographers such as Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Weston abandoned 19th century idealism and sought to explore the human body as pure form. Other photographers, such as Man Ray and Brassaï, used the body as a site for surrealist expression by experimenting with figural representation and distortion.”

“In Focus: The Nude” is the first exhibit in a new Center for Photographs program that will highlight the breadth and depth of the photographs collection at the Getty. The “In Focus” series will provide the opportunity for the museum to augment its rotatin exhibition schedule to ensure that photographs from the permanent collection, many which have not been seen before, will be on display at all times.

“Le Violon d’Ingres” (1924) by Man Ray courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Trust.

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