Gemma Boon wrote this article about the influential art critic John Berger and the way we see the nudes from Rubens and Jordaens in the exhibition Rubens, Van Dyck en Jordaens – de Vlaamse barok, now on view at Rijksmuseum Twenthe.
The second chapter of the influential book Ways of Seeing by John Berger (1972) consists of 25 pictures of naked women. Page after page of gritty and raw black and white photos of paintings, models, celebrities and sculptures. Berger showcases four centuries of the history of objectification of the female body here, in one bold, unpretending chapter. Their body language sometimes provocative and sexy, sometimes timid and innocent, but always avoiding your eyes. These women are there, on the page in front of you, but absent at the same time. The pictures are definitely stronger then words could ever be. And that is what Berger must have thought as well, because the second chapter of this book consists of pictures only, no words.
In the third chapter, Berger cleverly builds an argument on the submissive state of naked women in paintings of the 16th and 17th century. In one example…
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