Ways of Seeing III

"It shows her passively looking at the spectator staring at her naked. This nakedness is not, however, an expression of her own feelings; it is a sign of her submission to the owner's feelings or demands. (The owner of both woman and painting.)... It is worth noticing that in other non-European traditions - in Indian art, Persian art, African art, Pre-Columbian art - nakedness is never supine in this way. And if in these traditions, the theme of a work is sexual attraction, it is likely to show active sexual love as between two people, the woman as active as the man, the actions of each absorbing each other....

We can now begin to see the difference between nakedness and nudity in the European tradition....

To be naked is to be oneself. To be nude is to be seen by others and yet not recognized for oneself. A naked body has to be seen as an object in order to become a nude. (The sight of it as an object stimulates the use of it as an object.) Nakedness reveals itself. Nudity is on display....

In the average European oil painting of the nude the principal protagonist is never painted. He is the spectator in front of the picture and he is presumed to be a man."

~ John Berger