L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Owe Zerge



I hesitate to post these images because of the "questionable" subject matter.  The question, of course, is what was the artist's intent in these images of young boys, often nude?  And in art, generally, when does the depiction of youthful beauty cross the line and become something else?  At what point does the non-graphic nude depiction of a child become exploitive?  How old does a young person have to be before they are "safe" to portray naked: physically mature or emotionally mature or statutorily mature?  Is the nude figure in contemporary art inherently a sexual object, or does the relative age of the sitter influence that perception?  In an era that is over-sexualized, in general - in both the Arts and in our culture - how do we make these sometimes subtle distinctions?


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Owe Zerge (1894-1983), Swedish painter; I've been able to find nothing about this artist other than his nationality.  He has a dry, almost crude style that I find rather appealing.  He painted many other things - portraits, still-lifes, etc. - but his paintings and drawings of boys seems to be a large part of his oeuvre.







7 comments:

  1. I think nudity is a question of context - these are all innocent, almost body studies, and not sexual in any form -wouldn't you agree?

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    1. I would. I don't think they would seem sexual to most viewers, but I still wonder about the artist's interest in this particular subject matter. And if the artist "had a thing for little boys", regardless of the manner in which he portrayed them, does it change our perception of the work? Should it? I like the work here, but it does make me a little uneasy....

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  2. Obviously, you are projecting your own "uneasiness"—your anxiety about nakedness—onto Owe Zerge, even when you recognize you do not know nothing about him.

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    1. Pas du tout, Tiago. I was merely trying to express society's discomfort/confusion/concern when presented with images of nude children and, given that, my own discomfort in declaring that I think these are beautiful, whatever the - completely unknown - intent of the artist. (And given the nature of the work, the large place in his oeuvre devoted to the adolescent male and adolescent male nude, and the way he presented them - for the most part not in a child-like manner or setting, but posed like a classical adult nude - makes the question of his intent entirely valid.) And if I were truly uncomfortable with these images - or "nakedness" in general - I never would have put together this post in the first place.

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  3. What ever his "intentions" I think his work is very tasteful and executed with great skill, I especially like his drawings....!

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  4. Without doubting for a minute the talent of this artist, how difficult would it be to portray the average Swedish man? They are so beautiful...
    Do you remember Tadzio, the young man in the film Death in Venice? That Swedish boy looked like one of Mother Nature's masterpieces. And again, I had a feeling of uneasiness about what the libretto expected of Dirk Bogarde's attitude towards him.....
    I'm thinking of the immense talent of another Swede, Eugene Jansson: Those landscapes! No problem in rivaling any of the greats of Impressionism!
    But, the rest of his work, his obsession with the naked male figure?
    Eugene Jansson's hundreds of nudes do not incite the viewer's discomfort or uneasiness. Why should it be? All of those naked and perfect looking Swedish men seem to be adults.
    I totally agree with Stephen's fine tuned scalpel and its dissecting the uneasy nature of Owe Zerge's work.

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    1. Thank you, Maria! And, yes, I know Jansson's work; odd that I've never done a post about him....

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