Call me a prude, but I can’t believe that I am the only one. I spied this painting at Ruth & Ollie last week
and have been obsessing over it ever since. Painted by local artist Chris Shands, the colors and composition simply take my breath away. And at $800, this 36” x 24” nude is a real steal. Notwithstanding my visceral reaction and the great price, I just don’t think I can actually purchase it.
I caught up with Chris the other day to discuss this latest series of works. She told me that mothers of daughters have no problem with the idea of purchasing a nude, but when a mom has a son, the outlook differs. I confirmed that my hesitation definitely has to do with my 19-year-old son. Though we experienced Art History 101 together last year in Italy viewing innumerable nudes along the way, I have no desire to engage in a conversation with him about a piece of purchased art.
My daughter and I are working together with Mary Kathryn Woodward to design her future living space, and the colors in Chris’s series of nudes would suit our planned style perfectly. (You can follow along with our inspiration and picks on The Gracious Posse’s Pied-à-Terre Pinterest page.) I hesitate to pull out the credit card, though, because I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea about the occupants. Am I being ridiculous?
I asked Chris about the models for her paintings. She confided that she had never actually painted someone in the nude. Lycra-clad friends and family members have been her subjects. In fact the large painting that I adore was inspired by a very old photo of a family member wearing a one-piece bathing suit. Chris has mastered the art of showing the form of the body without regard for clothing.
As we talked, I recalled a Figure Sculpting class that I took with Lisa Fisher Johnson a few years ago. We did indeed have live nude models, but their nudity was hardly the point of the class. We were learning about the form and shape of different parts of the body and were too concerned with molding the clay properly to give the nakedness a second thought. Throughout the ages, most classically trained artists have studied anatomy with nudes in order to create their own depictions of the human body: it’s not only necessary for them but natural.
So does the artistic tradition and Chris’s observations sway me? Chris herself pictures my favorite hanging in a lovely bathroom, maybe on top of turquoise walls. A bedroom would work as well. Because the art covers wall real estate, the decision actually comes down to location.
For now, though, our pied-à-terre needs art in the public spaces. Would you hang a nude like one of Chris’s beauties in a foyer or living room? She and I would really love to know what you think.
June 11, 2015
p.s. All of the framed works above are available at Ruth & Ollie (unless they have sold since June 9th) for $300 and are 8¼” x 10¼”.