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Defying convention: The female nude in Canadian painting and photography during the interwar period

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A very pretty young lady's first undressing for the camera. The serene beauty poses nude in a golden California field. Gorgeous full nudes of Tiana Hunter. Two young maidens pose nude in a window lit hallway. Zeek reveals her beautiful breasts in a lush park. Nudes from a day shoot in the desert. Nudes of model Lyndsay wearing her glasses, sitting in naked repose. A perfectly shaped young model poses nude for the great Florida photographer.

Model Ginger frolics naked amidst abundant wildflowers and tall grass. Color photos of classic model from the UK posing nude in the English countryside. Full body nudes of the flawlessly shaped Adrina in the studio. A haunting photo-study of the nude in nature shot in the Oregon wilderness. A varied look at Julia's gorgeous naked form. A young woman's radiance shines through in this studio sitting.

A new model of incredible beauty shares her hidden majesty. The amazing Taylor poses nude in Running's Flagstaff studio holding yucca flowers. Nudes of the charming Mya shot in the Nevada desert. Shapely Kimora flexes her taut, naked form in this studio series. The sensual grace of petit model Blaze is a beautiful thing.

Erotic imagery of a most sensual, blonde-haired muse. Bailey's girlish charms framed by the golden California countryside. Alora strips down to cavort wildly - in the middle of nowhere.

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An interesting portfolio of artistic nudes from a new contributor. A lovely series created with famed model Tiana Hunter. A young model undresses to reveal her amazingly beautiful form. Dreamy photos of lovely young subject on the beach. The irrepressible muse showcases her marvelous gifts. A gorgeous nude model as seen by Paul Kristen. A gorgeous nude model as seen by George Swift.

Nudes of the well known model Tiana Hunter. Fiery nude images of a sitting with Blaze. Full nudes shot in the studio featuring a most becoming young woman. Color photos of Alora amid eerie terrain. Images of a young beauty modeling in the Nevada desert. Studio nudes of a most lithesome and shapely model. Voluptuous nudes of Danielle amid golden surroundings. The camera probes ever region of this amazingly beautiful subject. Nudes of Blaze shot behind a screen door.

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  • Defying convention: The female nude in Canadian painting and photography during the interwar period?

A studio series of this rising star. The natural beauty of Layla makes for an exquisite photo study. One of Running's most beautiful models ever poses nude on the sand dunes. Julia poses nude amidst the rugged splendor of the American west. A huge photo project featuring a gorgeous nude model. An amazing series of nudes crafted with a most heavenly subject, Francesca. Alora strips off her formal work attire for a quick midday photo session. A striking collection of nudes from several different sessions showcasing an amazing art nude model.

The elegance and girlish beauty of this young model is absolutely breathtaking. The great Michael Randazzo shoots a superb series of nudes of Lydia Lael in his living room. The amazingly beautiful Chloe lets Denman into her private shower. Danielle Trixie unleashes her inner siren during this nude photo shoot. A young woman with a rare and special beauty that jumps out to you. Harris, Prudence Heward, and Dorothy Stevens painted black nude figures in works which prompted varied critical reactions.

Her body echoes the tree's trunk in such a way that the woman seems to reflect the landscape into which she has been placed and the flattened picture plane works to push her toward the space of the viewer. Hester is at odds with her surrounds, her smooth skin rubbing against the cold, coarse bark of the tree supporting her. Operating outside the artistic and ideological conventions that governed the representation of black women at the time, Hester offers contradictory visual elements that challenge the stereotypical representations of black women at this time.

These paintings of black women were unsettling to white spectators in their reinterpretation of the historical tropes for representing black nude women. Heward was born in Montreal in where her art education began. She studied for a year in Paris in , returning to Montreal, working in her studio at her home on Peel Street, enlisting friends and relatives as portrait models. The black women in Heward's portraits or nudes are far removed from the artist's own social station.

The vast majority of black men in Montreal during this period were employed as porters for the railways while black women were confined to work as domestic servants. Heward's models would likely have been happy to pose for the artist for a little bit of extra money and the artist may well have come into contact with Hester, for example, through her aunt who had employed black domestic help or through her mother's church parish. The stylistic and aesthetic conventions for representing the black female nude were repeated by many of the aforementioned Canadian artists, including Dorothy Stevens.

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If the same stylistic conventions—raised open arms, visible breasts, headdress, and jungle foliage—were used at the time to represent a white female nude body, critics would likely have been outraged. Black women's sexuality has historically been pathologized and characterized by Whites as unbounded, uncontrolled and limitless. As such, representations of the black female body as beyond containment resulted in deliberately exoticized, sexualized and animalized images as we see in Coloured Nude.

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  8. The female figure stands against a tropical background, her arms raised and her body available to the viewer. One arm covers her eyes, obscuring any individualized features that might signal her identity and subjectivity. Critics praised the work 40 for Stevens adhered to the artistic conventions for representing the black nude female body. In fact, Hester , Dark Girl, Negress with Sunflowers, and Girl in the Window , question the academic artistic tropes previously established in Western art for representing the black nude body.

    None of Heward's black nudes were censored from their exhibition spaces and this is no doubt in part because the figure's blackness allowed for pictorial elements otherwise denied the white nude.


    However, the paintings clearly incited deep anxiety on the part of white viewers who, while able to see the strength and maturity of the artist's hand, could not reconcile it with her aesthetic choices in executing a nude black figure study. Obesity and ugliness in the nude were even banned from the old time barroom. It is clear from the conflicting and often racist responses from critics that Heward's black female nudes challenged viewers.

    In both Hester and Dark Girl, Heward paints the women's bodies such that they mirror the landscape into which they have been placed—a device usually reserved for the white female nude—whereas black nudes were historically placed on the landscape, as in Steven's Coloured Nude. Her arms, crossed delicately across her lap, emulate the slender branches of the tree and the undulating hills in the distance echo the wave of her exposed hair.

    In Dark Girl , the young woman sits slightly slouched, her head tilted as her body appears to almost merge with the foliage behind her. The branches on either side of her reflect the curvature of her arms and the bend in her back and neck. The sitters are represented as the white female body conventionally had been, as an extension of the landscape, but the colour of their skin signifies their status as other.

    Dark Girl does not possess any of the fleshiness or the sublime excess normally ascribed to the black female body. Rather, the sitter's body in Dark Girl is comprised mostly of muscle that is slackened under drooped shoulders that combine to create a posture at once weary and disheartened.

    Her body, similar to Hester's, signals the woman's labour and exhaustion rather than her sexuality. The bodies of the women in Hester and Dark Girl are closed off and restricted from the viewer. Their arms deny access to their sex, and their breasts sag low under the weight of their social and psychic conditions as racialized others in a white patriarchal Canadian society.

    They are not on display for the pleasure of the spectator. Rather, they seem reluctant to be imaged, resigned to their positions at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Furthermore, the artist has afforded a kind of agency to Hester, naming her in the title, and all of her figures have clearly individualized features, giving them a specificity normally denied the nude body, especially the black body.

    The model in Dark Girl , for example, dons a modern hairstyle and her bright red earrings suggest that this is a portrait of a real black woman who sat for Heward, likely in her studio on Peel Street.

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    Heward's black women form part of an emerging multicultural society, and the way in which they mirror their environment works to underscore this. The artist's choice to situate Dark Girl within a backdrop of Canadian sumac seems to argue for the black woman's place within the Canadian landscape. Having chosen a native Canadian plant as her backdrop—a hearty native plant that can withstand Canada's cold winter climate—Heward seems to suggest Dark Girl is in fact part of the country. I do not want to overstate the radicality of this painting: Heward uses sumac to evoke a tropical landscape, thus upholding a notion of the sitter as primitive, Other, and exoticized.

    However, by altering pictorial conventions and giving her model's an agency otherwise denied similar subjects in art history, Heward's black nudes open up the potential for viewers to engage in an ethical encounter with bodies that have not otherwise been valorized. Dark Girl , for example, is an orchestration of the way that identification, that psychic operation without which there would be no subject, no world, and no possible relation to the other, might function in a way that results in the idealization of bodies formerly viewed with contempt.

    It is an activity which extends deep into the unconscious and cannot be consciously mandated. There is, in the liminal spaces of Heward's artworks the possibility of an ethical involvement. They act and react. Modern artists in Canada explored the hermeneutic possibilities of the nude genre, using divergent aesthetic styles to produce artworks which often defied the traditional objectivity of the nude. Instead, it would be landscape painting which has dominated the canon of Canadian art history. Volume 32 , Issue 1. If you do not receive an email within 10 minutes, your email address may not be registered, and you may need to create a new Wiley Online Library account.

    If the address matches an existing account you will receive an email with instructions to retrieve your username. Journal of Historical Sociology Volume 32, Issue 1. Search for more papers by this author. Tools Request permission Export citation Add to favorites Track citation. Share Give access Share full text access. Share full text access. Please review our Terms and Conditions of Use and check box below to share full-text version of article. Abstract Often censored and much debated, the nude in Canadian art has held a contentious position since the early twentieth century.

    Figure 1 Open in figure viewer PowerPoint. Tom Thomson, The Jack Pine , — Oil on canvas, National Gallery of Canada [Colour figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary. Figure 2 Open in figure viewer PowerPoint. Lawren S. Harris, Maligne Lake, Jasper Park , National Gallery of Canada. Courtesy of the family of Lawren S. Harris [Colour figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.

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    Figure 3 Open in figure viewer PowerPoint. John W. Russell, A Modern Fantasy , Estate of Anna M. Russell [Colour figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary. Figure 4 Open in figure viewer PowerPoint. Lilias Torrance Newton, Nude in the Studio , Collection of a. Figure 5 Open in figure viewer PowerPoint. Palladium print, Figure 6 Open in figure viewer PowerPoint. Cox, Mount Baker , c. Figure 7 Open in figure viewer PowerPoint.

    Cox, Margaret Sellentin , [Colour figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary. Figure 8 Open in figure viewer PowerPoint. Figure 9 Open in figure viewer PowerPoint. Prudence Heward, Hester , Agnes Etherington art Centre [Colour figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary. Figure 10 Open in figure viewer PowerPoint. Prudence Heward, Dark Girl, Hart House Collection. Purchased by the Art Committee with income from the Harold and Murray wrong memorial trust fund, Courtesy the art Museum University of Toronto.

    Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid [Colour figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary. Figure 11 Open in figure viewer PowerPoint. Dorothy Stevens. Coloured Nude , Grandbois, M. The Nude in Modern Canadian Art — The Queer Art of Failure. Thomson died before the Group officially formed in , however he was deeply influential to the Group as they developed a national art movement connected to the northern wilderness of Ontario.

    Their iconic paintings of the barren, rocky shorelines of Georgian Bay and Algonquin Park—often depicting a lone tree bent against the icy chill of a strong gale—offered images of untamed nature without human inhabitants. See Hill, C. Journal of Canadian Art History 16, pp. Into the New Century: Painting, c. In Whitelaw, A, Foss B.

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    Beauty which we had not previously known: Walter Abell and the dynamics of modern art in Canada. British Journal of Canadian Studies 26 1 , p. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, p. The Nude in Canadian Painting. Toronto: New Press, which offers a generalized overview of the nude in Canadian art, focusing primarily on artworks produced after ; Roussan, J. Living Landscape. In Peppall, R. Edwin Holgate. Nudes and Prudes. In Deacon, W. Open House. Ottawa: Graphic Publishers; Buchanan, D. Naked Ladies. Canadian Forum 15 , p. Canadian Art: Man vs.

    Canadian Forum 19, p. New Frontier 1 12 , p. An Excess of Prudery. Canadian Art 5 2 , p. In Coulter, R. Censoring Art: Silencing the Artwork. London; New York: I. Essays, Fugues, Adventures and Improvisations. The Montreal Daily Star. Disarming the Conventions of Nudity in Canadian Art. In Grandbois, M. The Montreal painter, Lilias Torrance Newton, it will be remembered, committed this sin last year. The board of the Toronto Art Gallery refused to hang her painting…They called the model a naked lady, not a nude, you see, for she wore green slippers.

    New York: Berg, p. In Zohn, H. New York: Schocken Books. The Female Nude , p. Margaret Watkins: Domestic Symphonies. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada. Thomas, A.

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