Vile Bodies review

Art
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

In general, summer group shows are just half-arsed attempts to hock some leftovers. Come up with a concept, whack some art on the walls and hope for sales even though most of the rich bozos who normally buy your stuff have jetted off to St Tropez for the season. This Michael Werner group show is one of the better ones. The idea to explore art about bodies – from the start of the last century to the present day – is a broad enough concept that they don’t have to stress too much about curating and can just let the art speak for itself, and lots of it is great.

There’s a pillow-y pink and brown vision of four nude women by Félix Vallotton that’s full of shyness – or maybe something more sinister. It’s hard to tell. An amazing, early Georg Baselitz hangs near it, a nasty, aggressive, vicious mix of flesh and machine gun. There's some brilliant work here.

There’s just so much to explore in the idea of the body. The straggly lines of a Henri Laurens sketch, the creased form of a Francis PIcabia nude, the freefrom wildness of Don Van Vliet.

There’s rampant, almost shocking lust in Joseph Beuys’s drawing of an arched-back woman, mocking near-disgust in AR Penck’s self-portrait, gentle desire in Jean Fautrier’s gorgeous nude.

But I’m sorry, it’s 2018. What in the name of heck am I doing standing in a fancy gallery looking at a whole show of paintings by men, mainly of sexy ladies? Look, realistically, I don’t hugely care if your gallery wants to do a show of sexy paintings of ladies by dudes, just be honest about it. Call it ‘Men Have Boners’ and be done with it, own it and admit it.

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