Ten years ago, Michael, Brendan, Andrea, and Carol spent the summer together, painting houses naked in Martha's Vineyard and falling in love with each other's partners. ON their last day, hearts are broken, partners are switched, and each couple pursues a different life. Now, they're reunited at the last house they painted, with the consequences of their choices lingering beneath their attempts to catch up. This is the story of sex between star-crossed lovers, a husband who will risk everything in an effort to win back the love of his wife and about a woman imprisoned by the residue of love that will not die.
The painting was in the personal collection of Los Angeles art collectors Sidney and Frances Brody for nearly six decades. It sold at auction for US$106.5 million, the third highest price for a piece of artwork sold at auction at the time.
At the time, Picasso was in an exclusive contractual relationship with noted impressionist and post-impressionist French-Jewish art dealer Paul Rosenberg, who bought the painting direct from his friend. With the increasing tones of an approaching war, in the late 1930s Rosenberg started to distribute works from his 2,000+ piece collection around the world, and used the 1939 New York World's Fair as the excuse to ship the painting outside France. After the 1940 Nazi invasion of France, on reaching New York via Lisbon in September 1940, Rosenberg opened a new branch of his noted gallery on East 57th street and put the painting back on display.
Frances Brody died in November 2009. On May 4, 2010, the painting was sold at Christie's in New York City, who won the rights to auction the collection against London-based Sotheby's. The collection as a whole was valued at over US$150 million, while the work was originally expected to earn $80 million at auction.
There were eight bidders at the auction house, while the winning bid was taken via telephone for $95 million. Including the buyer's premium, the price reached US$106.5 million. When inflation is ignored, the painting broke the record price for an art work sold at auction until it was surpassed by the selling of The Scream on May 2, 2012 for US$120 million.
The work, an oil painting on canvas with dimensions of 147 cm × 89.2 cm (57.9 in × 35.1 in) in portrait, seemingly depicts a figure demonstrating an abstract movement in its ochres and browns. The discernible "body parts" of the figure are composed of nested, conical and cylindrical abstract elements, assembled together in such a way as to suggest rhythm and convey the movement of the figure merging into itself. Dark outlines limit the contours of the body while serving as motion lines that emphasize the dynamics of the moving figure, while the accented arcs of the dotted lines seem to suggest a thrusting pelvic motion. The movement seems to be rotated counterclockwise from the upper left to the lower right corner, where the gradient of the apparently frozen sequence corresponding to the bottom right to top left dark, respectively, becomes more transparent, the fading of which is apparently intended to simulate the "older" section. At the edges of the picture, the steps are indicated in darker colors. The center of the image is an amalgam of light and dark, that becomes more piqued approaching the edges. The overall warm, monochrome bright palette ranges from yellow ochre to dark, almost black tones. The colors are translucent. At the bottom left Duchamp placed the title "NU DESCENDANT UN ESCALIER" in block letters, which may or may not be related to the work. The question of whether the figure represents a human body remains unanswered; the figure provides no clues to its age, individuality, or character, while the gender of "nu" is male. Shortly before his unexpected death in 1967, in an interview with Pierre Cabanne, Duchamp commented on the surprising success of Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 at the Armory Show (see below). "What contributed to the interest provoked by the canvas was its title. One just doesn't do a nude woman coming down the stairs ... it seemed scandalous."
The painting combines elements of both the Cubist and Futurist movements. In the composition, Duchamp depicts motion by successive superimposed images, similar to stroboscopic motion photography. Duchamp also recognized the influence of the chronophotography of Étienne-Jules Marey and others, particularly Muybridge's Woman Walking Downstairs from his 1887 picture series, published as The Human Figure in Motion.
Duchamp submitted the work to appear with the Cubists at the 28th exhibition of the Société des Artistes Indépendants, Paris, 25 March through 16 May 1912. It appeared under the number 1001 of the catalogue, entitled simply Nu descendant l'escalier, not Nu descendant un escalier n° 2. This catalogue revealed the title of the painting to the general public for the first time, even though the painting itself would be absent from the exhibition.
Duchamp's brothers, Jacques Villon and Raymond Duchamp-Villon, sent by the hanging committee, asked him to voluntarily withdraw the painting, or paint over the title and rename it something else. According to Duchamp, Cubists such as Albert Gleizes found that his nude wasn't quite in line with what they had already investigated [tracée]. The hanging committee objected to the work, Duchamp stressed, on the grounds that it had "too much of a literary title", and that "one doesn't paint a nude descending a staircase, that's ridiculous... a nude should be respected".
It was also believed that the descending nude came too close to the influences of Italian Futurism. Yet the Section d'Or Cubists tolerated and even enjoyed the presence of foreign artists (e.g., Constantin Brâncuși, František Kupka, Alexander Archipenko, Amedeo Modigliani and Joseph Csaky). During the month of February 1912, a large Futurist exhibition was held in Paris at the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune. Duchamp later denied the Futurist influence, claiming that the distance between Paris and Italy was too large for any tenable influences to occur.
In 1912 ... the idea of describing the movement of a nude coming downstairs while still retaining static visual means to do this, particularly interested me. The fact that I had seen chronophotographs of fencers in action and horse galloping (what we today call stroboscopic photography) gave me the idea for the Nude. It doesn't mean that I copied these photographs. The Futurists were also interested in somewhat the same idea, though I was never a Futurist. And of course the motion picture with its cinematic techniques was developing then too. The whole idea of movement, of speed, was in the air.
I said nothing to my brothers. But I went immediately to the show and took my painting home in a taxi. It was really a turning point in my life, I can assure you. I saw that I would not be very much interested in groups after that.
The painting was exhibited for the first time at Galeries Dalmau, Exposició d'Art Cubista, Barcelona, 1912. Duchamp subsequently submitted the painting to the 1913 Armory Show in New York City, where Americans, accustomed to naturalistic art, were scandalized. The painting, exhibited in the 'Cubist room', was submitted with the title Nu descendant un escalier, was listed in the catalogue (no. 241) with the French title. A postcard printed for the occasion showed the painting for the first time with the English translation Nude Descending a Staircase. Julian Street, an art critic for The New York Times wrote that the work resembled "an explosion in a shingle factory," and cartoonists satirized the piece. It spawned dozens of parodies in the years that followed. A work entitled Food Descending a Staircase was exhibited at a show parodying the most outrageous works at the Armory, running concurrently with the show at The Lighthouse School for the Blind. In American Art News, there were prizes offered to anyone who could find the nude.
After attending the Armory Show and seeing Marcel Duchamp's nude, President Theodore Roosevelt wrote: "Take the picture which for some reason is called 'A Naked Man Going Down Stairs'. There is in my bathroom a really good Navajo rug which, on any proper interpretation of the Cubist theory, is a far more satisfactory and decorative picture. Now, if, for some inscrutable reason, it suited somebody to call this rug a picture of, say, 'A Well-Dressed Man Going Up a Ladder', the name would fit the facts just about as well as in the case of the Cubist picture of the 'Naked Man Going Down Stairs'. From the standpoint of terminology each name would have whatever merit inheres in a rather cheap straining after effect; and from the standpoint of decorative value, of sincerity, and of artistic merit, the Navajo rug is infinitely ahead of the picture."
During the Armory Show the painting was bought by the San Francisco lawyer and art dealer Frederic C. Torrey, who hung it in his home in Berkeley. In 1919, after commissioning a full-size copy of the work, Torrey sold the original to Louise and Walter Conrad Arensberg. In 1954 it entered the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art as a bequest from the Arensbergs. There it is displayed as part of the permanent collection alongside preliminary studies and a later copy by Duchamp.
Have just redecorated living room . Feature wall was crowns Smoulder rest of room white. Feature wall now painted crowns Hare rest Skimming Stone F&B. Hare is almost in the nude category very calm but with gentle warm hue. Am loving it. Like you think this trend could run
I just redid floors with tan wood tone tile after plumbing issues under foundation. Was trying to pick cabinet paint colors. Was goung firest grwen then decided to try and match the floor. Had a nude handbag sitting on the floor and it looked fabulous. So I mixed all my paint samples together and ended up with a nudie Caucasian peachy beige. I NEVER thought id do a beige. To me beige meant boring but this nude peach seems so oddly bold. The next day I realized I almost perfectly matched the color of a band aid/finger plaster but I think its going to be great. If not, the amazing thibg about paint is that it can just be repainted again. 2b1af7f3a8