Nude: art from the Tate collection

Auguste Rodin, The Kiss, 1901-4 Tate LondonPresented as part of the Sydney International Art Series 2016-2017, Nude: art from the Tate collection tells the story of the nude through more than 100 powerful artworks spanning two centuries, at the Art Gallery of New South Wales until 5 February 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.

Many of the works, loaned from the distinguished collection of Tate, London will be exhibited in Australia for the first time. At the heart of the show lies the world’s most famous image of erotic love, Auguste Rodin’s sculpture The kiss 1901-04. Never before has this work from Tate’s collection left Europe.

Other notable works include Pierre Bonnard’s The bath 1925, Picasso’s Nude woman in a red armchair 1932, Sylvia Sleigh’s Paul Rosano reclining 1974, Ron Mueck’s Wild man 2005 and Rineke Dijkstra’s Julie, Den Haag, Netherlands, February 29 1994.

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,” said Dr Brand.

“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 sketchbooks to the radical modern nudes of Picasso and the poignancy of Rineke Dijkstra’s photographs, Nude: art from the Tate collection does just that.”

“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 thought-provoking art experience for Australian audiences at AGNSW,” Dr Brand added.

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,” said Serota.

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.

Justin 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. “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,” said Mr Paton.

“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.”

“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,” added Mr Paton.

Nude: art from the Tate collection
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery Road, The Domain (Sydney)
Exhibition continues to 5 February 2017
Admission fees apply

For more information, visit: for details.

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