The Nude in Weatern Tradition

The depiction of the nude female model by a male artist in oil painting has played a significant role in the western tradition over the last 500 years.The oil painting of the female nude is subject to the artist's interpretation of her form.She is affected by the artist's desire for his model, as well as his art and she is torn between the artist's inability to be both lover and painter.Hubert Damisch's "The Underneaths of Painting" helps the reader understand the importance of the male painter's imaging of the female form.By analyzing Balzac's Unknown Masterpiece, Damisch uncovers several tangents to the unique relationship between artist's and the women they create on canvas.
Balzac tells a tale of the truth behind the creative process of an artist and the way he perceives his vision when finally completed in oil.Poussin is a young painter who doesn't quite understand how the concepts of desire and love will affect the perception of his model, and lover, Gilette.He soon embarks on a journey that takes him underneath the paint:
"Under the paint and as its'truth', instead and in the place of the so-called picture, the exchange assuming its last true face: a woman for a picture and a woman for what forms (or ought to) its subject.It is at this point in the picture where the subterranean, archaeological presence of the woman reveals itself, that something is given to see, something that can be spoken, that can be named, something moreover alive, delectable, a foothold for desire; in a word, something that looks at us unlike the inexpressible wall of paint that holds it captive," (Damisch 202).
There are many layers of paint put on to one canvas, but the image isn't visible right away, she must grow through the brushstrokes.When the last brush of paint tou


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