Women Artists and the Nude


Instructor: Lauren Jimerson

The nude has long been regarded as the gateway to artistic prominence, with many male artists using the genre to convey their virtuosity and achieve a professional identity. For women, however, approaching the nude was long considered unacceptable. In France, women were banned from studying the live nude model in public art institutions until the end of the nineteenth century. And even with the rise of modern art, when the nude became a site of experimentation for male artists, women who dared to challenge masculine or heteronormative conventions of the genre faced a range of obstacles from ad hominem attacks to hostile critical reception to outright censorship. Who were these women whose work has been marginalized in the canon of modern art? In which ways did they defy artistic protocol, gender stereotypes, and social mores? And how is their work fundamental to the history of modern art?

This course will focus on representations of the nude by women artists in Paris from the late nineteenth to the early twentieth century. We will follow the heated debates on the topic at traditional institutions like the École des Beaux-Arts and new, radical ones such as the Union of Women Painters and Sculptors, established in 1891 to promote women’s art education. We will grapple with censorship of works such as Camille Claudel’s nude sculptures and Natalia Goncharova’s male nudes. And we will explore a whole range of female painters who approached the nude in a variety of styles ranging from Impressionism to Fauvism, from Cubism to Surrealism. At the end of the course, we will have learned as much about individual female artists as about the evolution of the socio-historical factors–such as gender, sexuality, and class–to which these artists were responding and which continue to inform the world we live in today.

Maximum enrollment: 10


Spring 2021
18 hours (4-6 weeks)
Exact times and dates are determined in consultation with the participants.


5 Rue des Fontaines du Temple
75003, Paris

Note: In addition to 5 classroom sessions, the course will include a museum visit on a date to be decided with the enrolled participants.


The Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore
9, rue de Médicis
75006, Paris.

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