Insolite Nudity

23 May 2014 28 February 2015

The Musée Barbier-Mueller is displaying its “Insolite Nudity”: a selection of unique pieces from the Antiquity to the twentieth century, originating from Africa, Asia, Oceania and pre-Columbian America.

The visitors acquainted with what we call the “primitive” arts will not be surprised to see the representations of men and women in their most simplistic attire. Nevertheless, if we pay closer attention, the nudity does not leave us indifferent: it impresses us, shocks us sometime, makes us laugh or attracts us.

This selection of pieces leads us to wonder: is nudity the choice of the artist, of the sculptor? What does a naked body symbolize? What was the author trying to portray by deforming the body, making it beautiful, ugly, simple, geometric or on the contrary realistic?

Through the centuries and the territories, we have discovered that nudity often rhymes with maternity, the might and the power, virility, life and death, sexuality… We represent it to ensure fertility, as protection from the forces of evil and in the afterlife, or even to simply laugh about it.

These objects find a new purpose through our eyes. Their forms, their material, their colors become in our eyes an art that we observe and admire. This art intrigues and fascinates us. Here, the body in the shape of a violin of a stylized woman incised in marble from Cyclades appears as the expression of the perfect beauty, that of nudity simplified to the extreme. Here, the prominence of the sexual organs of an African statue in wood seems disturbing.

This exhibition that offers the visitor a true esthetical and intellectual experience is continued through the catalogue. Similar to an artistic book, the poems of Marcelin Mboko will be associated with a selection of 20 pieces of photography by Diane Bouchet and Pierre-Alain Ferrazzini.