The Male Body in Modernity, 1750-1880 - The Courtauld Institute of Art

The Male Body in Modernity, 1750-1880

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The Male Body in Modernity, 1750-1880


Jean-Honoré Fragonard, The Lock, 1777, Louvre Museum, Paris

Dr Satish Padiyar

The course focuses on the image of the male body from the European Enlightenment to early Modernism, in painting, sculpture, drawing and engraving, in the work of artists such as Boucher, Fragonard, David, Canova, Ingres, Géricault, Courbet, Caillebotte, and Rodin.

The political and theoretical challenges of feminism provoked a range of cultural responses about men and masculinity. Since the 1990s there has been continuing debate about whether masculinity is irrevocably ‘in crisis’, due to the erosion of once-secure gender boundaries, sexual identities and roles. From a contemporary perspective, the course will address a number of questions about masculinity, representation and modernity. How might we understand the shift in history painting from the more fluid eighteenth-century androgynous male nudes to modernism’s hyper-inflated masculinities? What happens to the idealized classical body in the face of a powerful emerging concentration on modernity and modern life? Seminars will also focus on questions of the aestheticized male body’s relation to colonialized and racialized others, the homosocial and military ethos, the pornographic body, queer bodies and the shifting history of sexuality.

Central to the course will be theories of self, sexuality, desire and vision, as articulated by Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, Jacques Lacan, Eve Sedgwick, Kaja Silverman, Klaus Theweleit, and others.

Courtauld Course Lecturer

About the lecturer

Satish Padiyar was educated at University College London, where he gained his PhD (1999), working with Helen Weston and Adrian Rifkin. He taught at the University of Leeds and at University College London, and was the recipient of a J. Paul Getty Postdoctoral Fellowship, before joining The Courtauld as Visiting Lecturer in 2005. He worked as chief curator on The Triumph of Eros: Art and Seduction in 18th Century France, at the Hermitage Rooms, London, in 2006. He was appointed Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century European Art in 2008.

Recent areas of work include the history of sculpture, European neoclassical painting, the relation between art and philosophy, and critical theoretical approaches to the history of art. An interest in rethinking European neoclassical painting and sculpture with queer, feminist, psychoanalytic and Marxist theory culminated in his book Chains. David, Canova, and the Fall of the Public Hero in Postrevolutionary France (2007), reviewed in The Burlington Magazine, Art History, Oxford Art Journal, and The Journal of Modern History. The book offers a fresh account of European Neoclassicisms of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, by attending to questions about the male body, notions of self, Kantian aesthetics, and sexuality. He is currently researching and preparing a book on the senses of freedom, or ‘free agency’, in European modern art, from Fragonard to Twombly, c. 1750 – 1960, which will include chapters on the art of David, Courbet, Cézanne and Picasso. He is writing a commissioned monograph on Jean-Honoré Fragonard, for completion in 2016.

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