Conservation Market United Kingdom

Nothing to be ashamed of

Gericault's Torse d’homme, le bras gauche levé, (man’s chest with raised left arm), 1812

You couldn’t be blamed for associating the exposed male body with Frieze: for instance, one can hardly miss the penis shots in Paul McCarthy’s photo series “Hot Dog”, dating to 1974, on the exterior wall of Hauser & Wirth’s booth (FL, C8), and who could forget Judith Bernstein’s flying penis drawings from last year? But Frieze Masters is giving the contemporary tent a run for its money where raciness is concerned. The centrepiece of London dealer Guy Stair Sainty’s Masters booth (FM, G7) is a painting by Gericault. The work, Torse d’homme, le bras gauche levé, (Man’s chest with raised left arm), 1812 (above), features a young man, torso exposed, with a piece of drapery slipping down to expose the hair in the upper quarters of the model’s nether region. When Stair Sainty got the painting, there was quite a bit more drapery, he said, but a restorer, who also works on Gericault’s paintings at the Louvre, told him it was added later, and so he removed it. Why was the drapery added? Did the painting belong to John Ruskin? “It probably made it easier to sell,” Stair Sainty guessed. These days, of course, the opposite applies.

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