La maja desnuda…

la fox desnudaSo, the Tate was asking on FB this afternoon which artwork reminds you of your childhood… been thinking about this for the past few hours now… we had a large Renoir coffee book in our entrance hall all through my childhood and when I was a young teenager my father gave me a book on the Impressionists… I loved it… it was around the same time I first got glasses and I used to joke that Pisarro’s fields and Monet’s lilies was how the world looked to me without them…

The artwork that made the most impression on me as a child though was an exhibition I saw in Mexico City… Goya… in particular ‘la maja desnuda’. I don’t know if it was so much the painting itself or the concept of it, the maja desnuda and the maja vestida… intrigued me somehow that someone would think to paint that…. those two perspectives.  There was a little humour in it for me. It contrasted so much with the other paintings in the exhibit… the mad old women with the crazed eyes. It was a strange day in any event which perhaps added to the dramatic impact. A tropical storm with torrential rain. The heavy smell of oiled wood contrasting with crisp clean tiles and cool, leafy courtyard gardens in old colonial buildings…

Reclining nudes have always caught my eye… male or female… I very clearly remember the first time I saw my first Modigliani reclining nude… struggling to remember where exactly but in my mind can still picture the room which had deeply saturated cerulean blue walls and richly warm hardwood floors… and the museum cafe that I sat in afterwards with a little espresso. It was a stunning and very peaceful sculpture garden. I’d got tired of circling the gallery while my husband squatted in front of Rothkos.

It was quite possibly on a trip to New York while he was an art student. His art college owned a loft near Canal Street and a dozen or so of us piled into a vw van and drove down to stay there for a week in early spring. A 16+ hour drive. We got caught half way in a blizzard and camped overnight in a church hall. Oh, those were the days… good memories… endless galleries, museums and art art art… we got lost one night and found a fantastic little bar with live blues on the edge of Alphabetville as it was called then and still a bit rough in those days… grabbed egg muffins for breakfast from the food street stalls in Chinatown… ran into Diane Keaton, dressed top to toe in white complete with white turban and dark shades, in a little Soho gallery and laughed as the tutor with us tried to ‘secretly’ follow her… found a book of Robert Frank photographs by a dumpster… and a weird, disturbing memory of waking in the night on the loft floor, in my sleeping bag, reclining but not naked, and seeing one of my husband’s friends staring intensely at me…

The image here is a portrait my first husband, the painter, made of me in our youthful days… it’s a sort of collage on coloured card of different textures with pastels…

About F_ox

Just a mother, a wife, a writer, a professional marketer, amateur photographer, art lover, aspiring beekeeper... dreaming of a citrus grove in Sardinia... 'let the beauty of what you love be what you do' ~ Rumi
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