Susannah Martin’s Contemporary Interpretation Of The Classical Nude

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Susannah Martin is a German-based artist whose subject matter is timeless. Her realistically-rendered pastel drawings and oil paintings feature nude subjects who are exploring an idyllic landscape. As they wade through streams and pass by mountains, men, women, and children encounter different wild life. The poses and scenarios aren’t sexually motivated, and instead we see Martin’s figures presented in a much more classical, art historical way. She explains:

The history of the painted nude in landscape documents exactly this eternal longing. Setting aside for a moment, any erotic motivations, the nude has always also been a symbol for man in his purist form, his original form, his primordial form. Stripped of all social indicators; clothing, possessions , etc., he exists independent of identity in a time of pure being ( ein Zeit des Seins). Being is our eternal home. Nature does not possess an identity, it is. The nude in a natural setting has always been associated with our return to a time of pure being, a return home.


As time has passed and technology rapidly advances, we become more disconnected with the natural world; so much so that we’re more of visitors than inhabitants. Martin goes on to write:

Nature is no longer home to us, she is much more a tourist destination. Certainly no representation of the nude in landscape in the 21st century can escape conveying our extreme estrangement from nature, intentional or not. There is an unavoidable strangeness or feeling of dislocation which envelopes the most sincere attempt at harmony. How absurd man seems stripped of his possessions and identity crutches and yet it is indisputable, he gains strength, clarity and beauty when we contemplate him abstractly , as a phenomenon of nature. My experimentation with contemporising the nude in landscape takes place within this framework of tension between these two poles of self-perception.

And finally:

… if we accept that realism now includes virtual realism, that is it incorporates a high degree of improbability, a hyperbolic realism. Man may return once again to his original landscape, his eternal home, all be it this time as a tourist, a primordial tourist.

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