Naked female statues

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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Grumble » Wed Nov 11, 2020 1:27 pm

Re naked classical statues - weren’t many of them clothed “in use”? I know they were painted.
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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Tessa K » Wed Nov 11, 2020 1:46 pm

Grumble wrote:
Wed Nov 11, 2020 1:27 pm
Re naked classical statues - weren’t many of them clothed “in use”? I know they were painted.
Like those cardboard cutout dolls with variable outfits you used to be able to get?

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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Nov 11, 2020 1:49 pm

I hadn't realised female bodies were considered so inherently shocking these days. It's not like either statue is remotely sexualised.

Can't say I've read any Wollstonecraft though, so I'm not sure what the statue is getting at.
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Re: Naked female statues

Post by jimbob » Wed Nov 11, 2020 1:53 pm

Have you considered stupidity as an explanation

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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Tessa K » Wed Nov 11, 2020 1:56 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Wed Nov 11, 2020 1:49 pm
I hadn't realised female bodies were considered so inherently shocking these days. It's not like either statue is remotely sexualised.

Can't say I've read any Wollstonecraft though, so I'm not sure what the statue is getting at.
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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Nov 11, 2020 2:04 pm

Yes, I've heard of it, but not read it. I'm not sure what the connection is between her works and the piece but I expect there is one, as the artist would have spent a fair bit of time on it and then a committee selected her design over others.
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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Nov 11, 2020 2:08 pm

The wiki page on Heroic Nudity is probably a good introduction to the convention:
In ancient Greek art warriors on reliefs and painted vases were often shown as nude in combat, which was not in fact the Greek custom, and in other contexts. Idealized young men (but not women) were carved in kouros figures, and cult images in the temples of some male deities were nude. Later, portrait statues of the rich, including Roman imperial families, were given idealized nude bodies; by now this included women. The bodies were always young and athletic; old bodies are never seen. Pliny the Elder noted the introduction of the Greek style to Rome.
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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Nov 11, 2020 2:16 pm

Response from the artist here, confirming that the woman in the statue is supposed to represent all women, rather than looking like a historical figure www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainmen ... 20953.html

Which seems to be something everyone can agree on - the statue is important because it is representing A Woman and therefore women. When statues of men go up their identity as male is never important.

Probably the people behind it have overthought this. Most people are going to look at a statue (or more likely a photo of it) for about a second, if that, before reacting. They're not going to read anything or think. So if they wanted to avoid controversy they should have just gone with a nice simple illustration of what Mary Wollstonecraft really looked like and what sort of clothes she would have worn. After all, that's what matters about her, not what she represented.
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Re: Naked female statues

Post by JQH » Wed Nov 11, 2020 2:35 pm

Personally I don't see a problem in seeing what she actually looked like. Could be a summary of her work on the plinth. Saves the "WTF is this and who's this Mary Wollstonecraft person it's for?" anyway. Statues as education.
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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Fishnut » Wed Nov 11, 2020 2:42 pm

The artist has been quoted in the Evening Standard as saying,
“You can’t be naked enough can you? The point is that she has to be naked because clothes define people. We all know that clothes are limiting and she is everywoman. As far as I know, she’s more or less the shape we’d all like to be.”

She said the critics had confused Wollstonecraft with the figure in the work.

She said: “She’s everywoman and clothes would have restricted her. Statues in historic costume look like they belong to history because of their clothes. It’s crucial that she is ‘now’. The whole sculpture is called ‘for Mary Wollstonecraft’ and that’s crucially important. It’s not an idea ‘of’ Mary Wollstonecraft naked… the sculpture is for now.”
So, it's not a statue of Mary Wollstonecraft, it's a statue for her. This seems to contradict the aims of the Mary on the Green Campaign which was for the statue to,
be a tangible way to share Wollstonecraft’s vision and ideas. Her presence in a physical form will be an inspiration to local young people in Islington, Haringey and Hackney. And it will send a powerful message beyond that, across the world. Just as the image of Churchill’s memorial statue is used in debates on his legacy, the same is needed for Mary Wollstonecraft. [my emphasis]
If you take the artist at her word of someone who wanted to make a statue of an "everywoman" then making her an idealised white women, particularly as a statue in a racial diverse area, isn't really the best way to go. I certainly don't see myself in that statue. I see what society tells me I should be - thin, muscular, pert-breasted, with a thigh gap.

If the sculpture is for Wollstonecraft then is it something she would have liked? Maybe. She definitely saw women's sexuality as something that was unfairly oppressed and it may be that she would be grateful that women no longer had to cover themselves in reams of fabric to ensure their 'modesty'. But she might also point out that there are lots of statues of naked women - and there's nothing inherently empowering about being naked.

But even if the artist didn't intend the piece to be of Wollstonecraft it's pretty clear that the campaigners raised money on that premise. This isn't the "inspiration" they said it would be. It's another idealised female form in a world filled with idealised female forms.

In case it wasn't clear, I really don't like the statue. I think it looks like something a dog pooed out after getting a hold of a barbie. The two aspects that annoy me most are that it feels cheaply provocative. The nudity feels like something that was chosen in order to get a reaction, to get press attention, with no thought to the longer-term impact. There was no reason to make her nude and the only reason that her being naked doesn't tie her to the past in the way that clothes would is that we've got centuries of idealised naked female sculptures and she fits right in. The other aspect is the size. The turd is so much larger than the "everywoman". It feels like a symbolic minimising of women, of our achievements, of our impact. I just don't see it as a statue that fulfils any of its aims, apart from the aim of getting short-term public attention.

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Re: Naked female statues

Post by lpm » Wed Nov 11, 2020 3:21 pm

Fishnut wrote:
Wed Nov 11, 2020 2:42 pm
So, it's not a statue of Mary Wollstonecraft, it's a statue for her. This seems to contradict the aims of the Mary on the Green Campaign which was for the statue to,
be a tangible way to share Wollstonecraft’s vision and ideas. Her presence in a physical form will be an inspiration to local young people in Islington, Haringey and Hackney. And it will send a powerful message beyond that, across the world. Just as the image of Churchill’s memorial statue is used in debates on his legacy, the same is needed for Mary Wollstonecraft. [my emphasis]
This "not of but for" excuse is a fake.

It's a narrative created after the fact to attempt to lessen the fallout, it was not part of the original vision.

Proof?

Here's the original design as submitted to the competition. It's not the final version in place, it's a photoshop produced by the artist to show what it would look like outside with the trees and stuff.

Note the artist's inscription in this version: the word "For" does not appear.

In the final version the word "For" was added.

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Re: Naked female statues

Post by discovolante » Wed Nov 11, 2020 4:30 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Wed Nov 11, 2020 2:16 pm
Response from the artist here, confirming that the woman in the statue is supposed to represent all women, rather than looking like a historical figure www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainmen ... 20953.html

Which seems to be something everyone can agree on - the statue is important because it is representing A Woman and therefore women. When statues of men go up their identity as male is never important.

Probably the people behind it have overthought this. Most people are going to look at a statue (or more likely a photo of it) for about a second, if that, before reacting. They're not going to read anything or think. So if they wanted to avoid controversy they should have just gone with a nice simple illustration of what Mary Wollstonecraft really looked like and what sort of clothes she would have worn. After all, that's what matters about her, not what she represented.
Although most statues dotted around were made a while ago and probably by prolific slave traders, it would just be *nice* to have a statue of a woman on the same basis and with the same status as all the male ones. At the moment you could walk round a city and assume women didn't achieve anything, which is clearly not the case. And while I generally feel slightly ambivalent about the idea of 'equality' (rather than liberation, hello Germaine Greer, no I am not going to go there) at the very least I don't think it should be too much to ask that there is at least some sort of equivalence between the women who deserve to get a statue and the men who get them. If we're going to have iconography we might as well do it properly.


I'm not 100% at ease with the fact that this is my gut feeling about this but there we are. I think it's a bit of a mistake to think it's just or even primarily about prudishness though.
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Re: Naked female statues

Post by basementer » Wed Nov 11, 2020 5:36 pm

Here's a very different approach to commemorating a writer - Katherine Mansfield wearing her own words:
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https://www.sculpture.org.nz/the-sculpt ... n-of-words
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Re: Naked female statues

Post by AMS » Wed Nov 11, 2020 6:18 pm

When a statue is intended to celebrate a real person (so ignoring the "for" not "of" justification), should there not be some consideration of what the person in question might feel about it?

Obviously she's not around to be asked, but it's a reasonable starting point to assume that most people would prefer to be depicted wearing clothes.

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Re: Naked female statues

Post by jimbob » Wed Nov 11, 2020 8:21 pm

Have you considered stupidity as an explanation

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Re: Naked female statues

Post by EACLucifer » Wed Nov 11, 2020 8:43 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Wed Nov 11, 2020 2:16 pm
Response from the artist here, confirming that the woman in the statue is supposed to represent all women, rather than looking like a historical figure
I swear I hadn't looked that up when I said that's what it probably was.

And yeah, I can absolutely see why people would be unhappy with an individual being honoured with something intended to be generic, and while I realise it can be viewed as representative of her works, if people had raised money for a statue of someone and got a representation of her works instead, that's certainly grounds for complaint.

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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Woodchopper » Wed Nov 11, 2020 9:10 pm

mediocrity511 wrote:
Wed Nov 11, 2020 11:10 am
I just can't imagine a male nude being commissioned in honour of a male historical figure. If anyone has any examples, I'd be interested. In my head I've been replacing Mary Wollstonecraft with someone like George Orwell, Winston Churchill etc.and I just can't see it happening.
Interestingly enough, the memorial to Wollstonecraft’s son in law: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shelley_Memorial

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Re: Naked female statues

Post by EACLucifer » Thu Nov 12, 2020 12:54 am

Woodchopper wrote:
Wed Nov 11, 2020 9:10 pm
mediocrity511 wrote:
Wed Nov 11, 2020 11:10 am
I just can't imagine a male nude being commissioned in honour of a male historical figure. If anyone has any examples, I'd be interested. In my head I've been replacing Mary Wollstonecraft with someone like George Orwell, Winston Churchill etc.and I just can't see it happening.
Interestingly enough, the memorial to Wollstonecraft’s son in law: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shelley_Memorial
I've got to admit that is pretty on brand for Shelley

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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Millennie Al » Thu Nov 12, 2020 2:18 am

Fishnut wrote:
Wed Nov 11, 2020 2:42 pm
I certainly don't see myself in that statue.
Well, from the pictures of it, I suggest you get up close with a rag and give it a good polish. Then you'll see yourself in it.
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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Herainestold » Thu Nov 12, 2020 3:05 am

There should be a ten year moratorium on new statues. We need to sort out new rules and guidelines for them.

All statues of female entities should be draped or clothed or taken down. Too much sexualization of the female form already in our society.

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Re: Naked female statues

Post by EACLucifer » Thu Nov 12, 2020 8:32 am

Herainestold wrote:
Thu Nov 12, 2020 3:05 am
There should be a ten year moratorium on new statues. We need to sort out new rules and guidelines for them.

All statues of female entities should be draped or clothed or taken down. Too much sexualization of the female form already in our society.
Reactionary imbecile. Learn the function of nudity in art before running your mouth.

Not a fan of this statue, but that's because it's using a universal figure in a memorial for an individual.

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Re: Naked female statues

Post by lpm » Thu Nov 12, 2020 9:17 am

Now this is the sort of statue we need:

https://twitter.com/p_zalewski/status/1 ... 4281418752
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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Tessa K » Thu Nov 12, 2020 9:50 am

Fishnut wrote:
Wed Nov 11, 2020 2:42 pm

In case it wasn't clear, I really don't like the statue. I think it looks like something a dog pooed out after getting a hold of a barbie.
I didn't want to get into whether it's good art or not but this description is absolutely perfect.

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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Boustrophedon » Thu Nov 12, 2020 10:20 am

As a work of art representing women's emancipation, I really rather like it, in a 1950s eastern block propagandist sort of a way. As a statue for any particular woman it fails, with or without the inscription.

At the Paddington station there is statue of the eponymous bear, imagine that it were instead a statue of a generic bear without hat, dufflecoat or suitcase and inscribed "For Paddington." Or yet again perhaps a jar of marmalade held aloft on a tower of writhing ursine forms, inscribed; "For Paddington." Stupid, yes?
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Re: Naked female statues

Post by Gfamily » Thu Nov 12, 2020 11:13 am

Tessa K wrote:
Thu Nov 12, 2020 9:50 am
Fishnut wrote:
Wed Nov 11, 2020 2:42 pm

In case it wasn't clear, I really don't like the statue. I think it looks like something a dog pooed out after getting a hold of a barbie.
I didn't want to get into whether it's good art or not but this description is absolutely perfect.
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