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Auguste Rodin, The kiss, 1901-04. Tate: purchased with assistance from the Art Fund and public contributions 1953. Image © Tate, London 2016.

SYDNEY.- Nude: art from the Tate Collection at the Art Gallery of New South Wales tells the story of the nude through more than 100 powerful artworks spanning two centuries, as part of the Sydney International Art Series 2016-2017.  

The evolution of the nude in Western art is a story of beauty and desire, eroticism and tenderness as well as scandal. From the history paintings of the 19th century to the body politics of contemporary art, Nude: art from the Tate collection brings together the works of renowned artists who have depicted the naked body including JMW Turner, Sir Hamo Thornycroft, Auguste Rodin, Pierre Bonnard, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Louise Bourgeois, Barkley Hendricks, Rineke Dijkstra, John Currin, Sarah Lucas and Ron Mueck.  

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Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, A Favourite Custom, 1909. oil paint on wood, 66 × 45.1 cm. Tate: Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1909. Image © Tate, London 2016.

Many of the works, loaned from the distinguished collection of Tate, London are being exhibited in Australia for the first time – including one of the world’s most iconic expressions of erotic love, Rodin’s marble sculpture, The kiss (1904). Other renowned works include Picasso’s Nude woman in a red armchair (1932) and Bonnard’s The bath (1925). 

Art Gallery of NSW director Dr Michael Brand said the nude is one of art’s most universal subjects. “From idealised representations of the human form through to the confrontational naked bodies of recent art, the nude has expressed a vast range of human aspirations, emotions and ideas. 
 

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Pierre Bonnard, The bath (Baignoire (Le bain)), 1925, oil paint on canvas, 86 × 120.6 cm. Tate: Presented by Lord Ivor Spencer Churchill through the Contemporary Art Society 1930 © Estate of Pierre Bonnard. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney. Image © Tate, London 2016

“The Art Gallery of NSW encourages debate about art and provides the opportunity for visitors to confront art that is charged and powerful. From Turner’s secret sketch books to the radical modern nudes of Picasso and the poignancy of Rineke Dijkstra’s photographs, Nude: art from the Tate collection does just that,” Dr Brand said. 

“I thank Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota for working with us to bring an exceptionally important selection of the museum’s masterpieces to Sydney. It’s an honour to partner with the Tate in the year its much anticipated new building is open, providing another aesthetic and thoughtprovoking art experience for Australian audiences at AGNSW,” Dr Brand added. 

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Louise Bourgeois, Femme, 2007, gouache on paper, 59.7 × 45.7 cm. Tate: Lent by the Tate Americas Foundation, courtesy of The Easton Foundation 2013 © The Easton Foundation. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney. Image © Tate, London 2016

Sir Nicholas Serota said that while Tate staged Exposed: the Victorian nude in 2002, Nude: art from the Tate collection is the first exhibition to address the subject using the full breadth of the collection. 

“Nude: art from the Tate collection ranges from historical allegory to political protest and from cubism to body art,” Serota said. 

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John Currin, Honeymoon nude, 1998, oil paint on canvas, 116.8 × 91.4 cm. Tate: Purchased with assistance from Evelyn, Lady Downshire’s Trust Fund 1999 © John Currin. Image © Tate, London 2016

Nude: art from the Tate collection also offers a compelling journey through many major art movements, including romanticism, cubism, expressionism, realism, surrealism and feminism. The exhibition is curated by Emma Chambers, curator of modern British art at Tate, and Justin Paton, head curator of international art at the Art Gallery of NSW. 

Paton said Nude: art from the Tate collection explores the many ways artists have looked at the unclothed body and touches on subjects that are urgent and relevant to all viewers.  

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Giorgio de Chirico (1888–1978), The uncertainty of the poet (L’incertitude du poète), 1913. Oil paint on canvas 106 x 94 cm Tate: Purchased with assistance from the Art Fund (Eugene Cremetti Fund), the Carroll Donner Bequest, the Friends of the Tate Gallery and members of the public 1985 © Estate of Giorgio de Chirico/Licensed by Viscopy, 2016 Image © Tate, London 2016.

“We all respond strongly to images of the unclothed body because they address issues at the heart of who we are as humans – issues of love, desire, mortality, truth and power. 

“The show is a survey of extraordinary artists, major art movements, and many remarkable social changes. But above all it is a chance to encounter compelling artworks up close and in the flesh – to experience each artwork’s distinctive ‘body language’ and see how we respond,” Paton said.  

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Herbert Draper, The lament for Icarus, exhibited 1898, oil paint on canvas, 182.9 × 155.6 cm. Tate: Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1898. Image © Tate, London 2016

“The nude has changed radically across the past 200 years. But it has also remained a subject of constant interest for artists and viewers — because every one of us has a body. In that sense it is an exhibition about who we are and how we see ourselves,” Paton added. 

NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres said the Sydney International Art Series brings the world’s most outstanding artists exclusively to Sydney and this year’s exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW continues this proud tradition.  

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William Etty, Candaules, King of Lydia, shews his wife by stealth to Gyges, one of his ministers, as she goes to bed, exhibited 1830, oil paint on canvas, 45.1 × 55.9 cm. Tate: Presented by Robert Vernon 1847. Image © Tate, London 2016

“This exceptional collection from the Tate will draw thousands of visitors to Sydney to see remarkable works including Rodin’s The kiss, to be seen in Australia for the very first time,” Ayres said. 

“I encourage art lovers and first time visitors to come to the Art Gallery of NSW to enjoy this landmark exhibition made possible through this esteemed partnership with the Tate, London,” Ayres said.

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Lucian Freud, Standing by the rags, 1988–89, oil paint on canvas, 168.9 × 138.4 cm. Tate: Purchased with assistance from the Art Fund, the Friends of the Tate Gallery and anonymous donors 1990 © Lucian Freud Archive/Bridgeman Images. Image © Tate, London 2016

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Frederic, Lord Leighton, The bath of Psyche, exhibited 1890, oil paint on canvas, 189.2 × 62.2 cm. Tate: Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1890. Image © Tate, London 2016.

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Henri Matisse, Draped nude (Femme nue drapée), 1936, oil paint on canvas, 45.7 × 37.5 cm. Tate: Purchased 1959 © Succession H Matisse. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney. Image © Tate, London 2016

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Sir John Everett Millais, The knight errant, 1870, oil paint on canvas, 184.1 × 135.3 cm. Tate: Presented by Sir Henry Tate 1894. Image © Tate, London 2016

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Amedeo Modigliani, Seated nude with necklace (Nu assis au collier), 1917, oil paint on canvas, 91.5 × 59.7 cm. The Lewis Collection

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Ron Mueck, Wild man, 2005, mixed media, 285 × 161.9 × 108 cm. Tate: ARTIST ROOMS, acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d’Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008 © Ron Mueck. Photo: Tate/NPG Scotland, Marcus Leith. Image © Tate, London 2016

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Pablo Picasso, Nude woman in a red armchair (Femme nue dans un fauteuil rouge), 1932, oil paint on canvas, 129.9 × 97.2 cm. Tate: Purchased 1953 © Pablo Picasso/Succession Pablo Picasso. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney. Image © Tate, London 2016

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Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Two women (Zwei frauen), 1912, oil paint on canvas, 76.5 × 84.5 cm. Tate: Presented by the executors of Dr Rosa Schapire 1954 © Karl Schmidt-Rotluff/Bild-Kunst. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney. Image © Tate, London 2016

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Sylvia Sleigh, Paul Rosano reclining, 1974, oil paint on canvas, 137.2 × 198.1 cm. Tate: Purchased with the support of the Estate of Sylvia Sleigh 2015 © Tate. Image © Tate, London 2016.

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Philip Wilson Steer, Seated nude: the black hat, c1900, oil paint on canvas, 50.8 × 40.6 cm. Tate: Presented by the Contemporary Art Society 1941. Image © Tate, London 2016.

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Alfred Stevens, Study of a kneeling boy bending a bow, for Dorchester House, c1860, chalk on paper, 32.1 × 25.7 cm. Tate: Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1923. Image © Tate, London 2016.

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William Strang, The temptation, 1899, oil paint on canvas, 122 × 137.2 cm. Tate: Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1999. Image © Tate, London 2016.

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Sir Hamo Thornycroft, Teucer, 1881, bronze, 240.7 × 151.1 × 66 cm. Tate: Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1882. Image © Tate, London 2016