The Nude: The Most Enduring Subject in Art History
On view through Feb. 16
Ann Long Fine Art
177 King St.
On view through Feb. 14
John M. Dunnan Gallery
131 King St.
Ann Long Fine Art and the John M. Dunnan Gallery premiered individual exhibits last month celebrating the naked body. They share a common theme, but the works are as unique to each other as my own naked body is to yours.
Long's collection is drawn from eight international artists, including Paul Wunderlich, a German-born painter whose work is often called a masterful representation of magic realism. His work is elusive and blunt; it blurs states of consciousness with cautious bravery, and hovers in your mind like a dreamy landscape. His "Salomo VIII" shows a woman's pale torso floating between the black lines of a cursive scale. Her hips horseshoe like a capital "C." Flowers are strewn along her length and dashed with bursts of color. Some dapple and bloom; others dust and drift away. Her torso is an anchor to the human form and a firework that bursts with magic pollen.
Kamille Corry's art is a different kind of magic. Her "Study for Precipice to the Soul" is a series that illuminates the transition from conception to realization: On one wall are three images in pencil while on the next, the same images are painted with resounding command and craftsmanship. Her paint is ripe and soft and bounds off the canvas.
While Long's collection is at turns hypnotic and severe, showcasing the human form in a quiet, appreciative setting, the Dunnan Gallery is a more relaxed, domestic experience, featuring local artists of recognizable talent.
The work here is more diverse: photography, sculpture, and painting. Photographs of nude women glance across the gallery at surreal paintings that wink toward sculptures who gesture like dancers caught in a pose. You see John Dunnan's sculptures, Landis Powers' paintings, and Anna Murray's photographs, as well as a wall of Dunnan's own personal media blitz, a Sharper Image masseuse chair, and a coffee table stacked with pretty books that range through a variety of artistic interests. The Dunnan takes an invested role in its exhibition; it's an aesthetic experience rather than a gallery experience and offers a hemmed alternative to the exhibit's somewhat rough assemblage.
The work at the Dunnan flames "NUDE!" to full fire and volleys salvos of creative libido. Suggestive photos of picnic romps and bathtime naughtiness are neighbors to paintings of naked women. McLean Sheperd's alluring "Auto Portrait Duck & Crown" is a roaming journey into color and sacrifice. A field's overgrowth develops a husk that encapsulates a female body. Though it's enough to evoke contemplation, the collection here has the quality of a peripatetic eye, and you move on without too much pause.
While the Dunnan's show may not be as disciplined, it remains a spirited bark to Ann Long's measured bite.