ARTYFACTS: Cranach at Royal Academy

Friday, March 14, 2008

Cranach at Royal Academy

I saw the Cranach show at the Courtald last July, and to be honest, I can't say this was a whole lot better. It's bigger, but the Courtald had some excellent Adam and Eve images that this show lacks. Let's be honest, the highlight of the show are his nudes. He would not have been as well kown as he is without this distinctive approach to the nude through his Adam/Eve, Diana, Lucretia, Venus, The Three Graces etc. They are medieval erotica. The fact that the same woman and shape appears in so many guises is proof enough that the interest of both artist and viewer is in the object and not the subject.

Should I?
The flesh tones against black with a wisp of gauze is enough to lure all of the Adam's watching the show at the Royal Academy. We're all supposed to show that terribly dull aesthetic disinterest in front of nudes but these raise a few knowing smiles. In Adam ad Eve, Adam is scratching his head. Two older womed in front of me commeted on this saying, "Look he's scratching his head thinking 'Should I?'" The other replied with a laugh, "and he did!"

There are some credible portraits, especially of Luther, as he was, effectively, his publicist, but the religious paitings were rather feeble.


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