Laura Gonzalez


9 Mar 2008

The look of Lucas Cranach the Elder

By now, you must know my weakness for Cranach’s paintings, for his depictions of the seductiveness of the female body, his wonderful view on Eve. I am lucky. London’s Royal Academy of Arts is hosting a major exhibition of his work, which includes a fair amount of Venuses. Five centuries later, Cranach continues to shock and contradict, as the poster for the exhibition was almost pulled out from advertising spots on the London underground. Is it really that outrageous? what is it about the image that is uncomfortable to show? The nudity or the look? I wonder…

These images have influenced so many others… The first I can think of is Tizian’s Venus of Urbino, almost its contemporary, although less defiant. Then there’s Manet’s Olympia, of course. I recently attended ArtSheffield 08. Like when in Venice, I enjoyed the social aspect more than the art. There was one piece, however, at the interesting Millennium Galleries display, that broke the indistinguishable continuum I felt reigned over the other spaces. A look was at its centre, although this time, the figure was a man, fully clothed.

This image of Morrissey by Wolfgang Tillmans showed me, tracing it back to Cranach, that the challenge resides in the look, much more than in the pose, in the nudity, in the political stance of the images. The look, the gaze… Always them, at the centre of works of art…

Posted in Blog, Notes to self, Seductive artworks, Seductive things

One Response to “The look of Lucas Cranach the Elder”

  1. LInda Herbertson said:

    Very nice post. Vertiginious mise en abyme effect. The beauty in the eye of the beholder as the subject of the painting. The artist seeing the subject seeing him and through him, us.

    Touché ! (with Scottish accent that sounds like tuché !)

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About Me

I am an artist and writer. My recent practice performance, film, dance, photography and text, and my work has been performed, exhibited and published in many venues in Europe and the US. I have spoken at numerous conferences and events, including the Museum for the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, the Medical Museum in Copenhagen, College Arts Association and the Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society. When I am not following Freud, Lacan and Marx’s footsteps with my camera or creating performance works as part of my Athenaeum Research Fellowship at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, I teach postgraduate students at Transart Institute.

I am currently immersed in an interdisciplinary project exploring knowledge and the body of the hysteric. In 2013, together with Child and Adolescent Mental Health practitioner Frances Davies, I co-edited the book ‘Madness, Women and the Power of Art’, to which I contributed a work authored with Eleanor Bowen. My book ‘Make Me Yours: How Art Seduces’ was published by Cambridge Scholars in 2016. In this text, investigates psychoanalytic approaches to making and understanding objects of seduction, including an examination of parallels between artistic and analytic practices, a study of Manolo Blahnik’s shoes as objects of desire, a disturbing encounter with Marcel Duchamp’s last work, and the creation of a psychoanalytically inspired Discourse of the Artefact, a framework enabling the circulation of questions and answers through a relational approach to artworks.