Sotheby’s Gets X-Rated in Its Upcoming S|2 Exhibition in London

Featuring Marina Abramović to Alberto Giacometti.

Caroline Walker, Desert Manoeuvres (2015), detail.
Photo: courtesy Sotheby's London.

Sotheby‘s may have offered a $500 million guarantee for the ongoing auction for the estate of its late chairman, but that doesn’t mean it is putting all of its eggs in the auction market. The auction house’s private sale model, S|2, will host “The Nude in the XX and XXI Century” in its London exhibition space.

“The idealization of the nude has persisted throughout art history,” curator Jane Neal told artnet News via e-mail. In the 20th century, however, artists began to approach this time-honored subject “with a greater sense of often gritty realism,” she wrote. “The nude then is still very much celebrated in these works, but as a vital, breathing body, rather than as a hermetically-sealed vessel.”

Louise Bourgeois, <em>The Fragile</em> (2007). Photo: courtesy Sotheby's London.

Louise Bourgeois, The Fragile (2007). Photo: courtesy Sotheby’s London.

Nudity in art is if anything more prevalent in 2015, with artists preemptively leaking their own nude selfies, perching unclothed on London rooftops, and getting arrested for their naked photo opps at the Eiffel Tower.

Previous S|2 gallery programming has included solo exhibitions of work by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Yayoi Kusama, and a show of work by African American contemporary artist featuring a soundtrack “musically curated” by rapper Drake. The upcoming show will feature works by 31 artists, including Marina AbramovićAlberto Giacometti, Antony Gormley, Gustav KlimtPablo Picasso, and Louise Bourgeois.

Martin Eder, <em>Full Moon/Holiday</em> (2015). Photo: Uwe Walter, courtesy Martin Eder/Sotheby's London.

Martin Eder, Full Moon/Holiday (2015). Photo: Uwe Walter, courtesy Martin Eder/Sotheby’s London.

The exhibition also explores the evolving relationship between artists and nudity in the Internet age, with work from contemporary artists such as Martin Eder and Caroline Walker. Today, Neal pointed out, “an artist can draw inspiration from a plethora of different sources: from the ancient world, the Renaissance, the 20th and 21st centuries, and take images of the naked body from high art, popular culture, and pornography.”

See images from the show below.

Marina Abramović, <em>FREEING THE BODY</em> (1975/2014). Photo: © Marina Abramovic, courtesy the Marina Abramović Archives and Lisson Gallery, London.

Marina Abramović, FREEING THE BODY (1975/2014). Photo: © Marina Abramovic, courtesy the Marina Abramović Archives and Lisson Gallery, London.

Kees van Dongen, Femme Nue Blonde (1906). Photo: courtesy Sotheby's London.

Kees van Dongen, Femme Nue Blonde (1906).
Photo: courtesy Sotheby’s London.

Nobel &amp; Webster, <em>Two Declining Nudes</em> (2014). Photo: © Tim Noble & Sue Webster, courtesy Sotheby's London.

Nobel & Webster, Two Declining Nudes (2014). Photo: © Tim Noble & Sue Webster, courtesy Sotheby’s London.

“The Nude in the the XX and XXI Century” is on view at 31 St. George Street, Mayfair, London, November 19, 2015–January 15, 2016.

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