The Nude Renewed

“The Nude Renewed.” Review of The Nude: A Study in Ideal Form, by Kenneth Clark (New York: Pantheon, 1956). Griffin 6 (July 1957): 4-12. Also published as "The Nude Renewed: Sex, Style, and Geometry" in Encounter, October 1957: 31-33.


I suppose it would be quite possible to deal with Sir Kenneth Clark’s The Nude: A Study In Ideal Form as if it were an especially accomplished work of scholarship and criticism, delightful for the vivacities of its observation and expression, commendable for the directness of its communication, for the grace with which it involves us in ideas about the plastic arts, which are far less easily available to most of us than equivalent ideas about literature. And certainly The Nude deserves any praise we may want to give to its sensibility and–using the grim word in the pleasantest sense–its pedagogy. But beyond the intrinsic qualities of the book we have to be aware of the significance of its appearance at this moment of cultural history, of what its aesthetic assumptions, set forth with considerable authority, mean to us at the present time.

Online: - full text in Encounter