Naked Old Women
In the office bathroom, I noticed that someone had left a copy of
Ms magazine. Yeah, I've always been curious what is so special
about these "chick zines" and figured that I would only appreciate it if I
could start to acquire a taste for "chick flicks" as well. But on the cover
in the list of article eye catchers was one that really got my
The article was entitled, Naked Old Women. I was so intrigued that
I just had to thumb to it to see what it was all about.
Well, what it was about is Alice Matzkin, an artist
who made a series of portraits of … well, naked old women. And some of
the paintings were featured in the magazine, and let me tell you, they were
simply fabulous. Each painting captured the unique essence… the soul of
the person. So inspiring.
This got me thinking… and not just about my own motivation of opening up
the magazine in the first place. What is our fascination with
nekked people? I mean from the neolithic venus stone carvings to
the Renaissance to our "naughty mags" we've been painting, drawing and
sculpting their form. Granted, we have this ideal perfection associated
with young, nubile women, and I'll admit if you've got to paint something,
that is just a good a subject as a bowl of fruit.
This fascination we have also gets me wondering about why we hate the human
body so much. I mean, we are always piercing, tattooing, painting, combing,
shaving, and clothing these things as if we loathe the very sight… and
every culture does this, so I really think that it must be in our genes.
But getting back to the art of the nude… art is seldom realistic. In
fact, that isn't usually the goal of the artist, as the real objective is
to capture something more real… more real than just the external
appearance. Perhaps to capture the reality we can't see. Maybe that is the
reason why we try to alter our bodies… we are trying to express something
deep while stating that we are just covering up.
But really constitutes art? Funny, I guess I have to agree with
Potter Stewart, for I know what art is when I see it. A great art
composition can literally take your breath and mind away, and then it
returns refreshed and inspired.
And so it was with the paintings of these naked old women. Each wrinkled
hide told more stories than the flawless, airbrushed skin of a supermodel.
It tells the stories, because the soul inside experienced the stories… of
birth, death, love and loss. And the shedding of clothes not only reveals
the tails, but also the tales of the person, and there are some stories and
experiences we'd better keep covered.
Hmmm… when I'm 80 years old, I wonder if I can talk some young artist
into painting my disrobed frame as I dance to the music I've acquired in my
Well, now it is time for you to skeedattle and go see these pictures for
yourself. My personal favorite is Anna, age 75.
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