John Stezaker

11 September 2013

York Art Gallery

Purchased by the Contemporary Art Society with the support of The Art Fund and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for York Art Gallery.
York Art Gallery is developing a collection of contemporary art which examines artists’ responses to the body and ‘flesh’. This capsule collection strongly relates to the gallery’s historic collection, which includes a large number of works by York born artist William Etty (1787 – 1849) who specialised in the female nude. Etty was an assiduous student of the Royal Academy’s Life Class. His life studies provide an interesting contrast to Stezaker’s ambiguous and unsettling collages of male and female bodies. For Fall XII and Fall XIII Deutsche Börse 2012 photography prize winning artist John Stezaker uses source material from Arthur Thompson’s book Anatomy for Art Students, a core text for students at the Slade School of Art until the 1970s. Stezaker’s two collages have particular resonance with Etty’s pencil drawing Standing Female Nude, circa 1820s, which shows a side view of a female model, and The Wrestlers, circa 1840, which like Stezaker’s collages show a contrast of skin tones. Stezaker’s work also explores issues around traditional artistic training including the place of anatomical study and life drawing, thus relating closely to the history of York Art Gallery, which housed York’s art school until the 1970s.



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