It is important to note that the author of this oversize survey of the history of the representation of the male and female nude in American art is a cultural historian, not an art historian. That is an important fact for the reader to know upfront, not for judging the quality of his perceptions, but for realizing from the outset his perspective, which is announced in the first line of his introduction: “The mind-boggling contradictions of American culture are nowhere as obvious as in its constantly shifting attitudes towards the naked human body.” In theme-based chapters that move in chronological order from colonial to modern times, Dijkstra develops such topics as the changing perceptions of female roles in society, the “incursion” of physical realism, nudity for shock value, and the pin-up-girl craze, all augmented, of course, by a wondrous array of illustrations. For the student of cultural and art history; care should be taken by the librarian that pages are not lifted from the book. --Brad Hooper
"The Sexiest Nude Art You've Never Seen: A gorgeous new book, Naked
by Bram Dijkstra, highlights the most famous, eye-popping, game-changing pieces of naked artwork in the world... Check out all of the envelope-pushing paintings, photographs, sketches, and sculptures in the new book Naked: The Nude in America
by Bram Dijkstra" ~Cosmopolitan
is a thorough exploration of America's sometimes puritanical and sometimes perverse relationship with the nude in the visual arts. Dijkstra brilliantly illustrates more than four hundred and twenty American works portraying the naked body in a myriad of manifestations. The book reads like an incisive lecture, sparing no criticism for American culture and its hypocrisies. The book features gorgeous artworks long hidden in museum vaults for fear of offending conservative patrons. From Andrew Wyeth to racy comicbook covers, Naked
reveals the hidden history of the American nude in the first comprehensive book to be published on teh subject in more than thirty-five years. This is more than just an art book -- it is a long overdue statement about America's peculiar attitude towards the naked human body." ~THE
"...gorgeously illustrated book called Naked
which explores the traditional, the beautiful, and the shocking in the portrayal of the nude in America... a tremendously beautiful coffee table book." ~KPBS Radio
"In 'Naked,' Dijkstra, a specialist in comparative literature who has written extensively about art, deftly assembles a richly illustrated history of the American nude that spans centuries and media, from Benjamin West's 18th century mythological scenes (naked cupids galore) through (tame) Edward Hopper paintings to Terry Richardon's lascivious photographs of pole dancers (my goodness)." ~ArtInfo.com
"Bram Dijkstra’s exploration of the history of nudity in American art is a bit of a two-for-one deal: a hybrid of controversial coffee table book and in-depth social and political treatise on American culture. Dijkstra, professor emeritus of comparative literature and cultural history at UC San Diego, is not a traditional art historian, nor does the work read like an art history book.
Highlighting over 400 pieces depicting both male and female nudes, this eye-catching collection will quickly turn on any reader anticipating a quick flight-through. Dijkstra’s observations are deeply absorbing and unabashedly critical of the zipped-up Puritanism that has forced so many such works of art into the bottom rungs of the fine arts world. The author respectfully declares his subjectivity outright, and the resulting discussion proves irresistibly engaging.
The selected works are organized by conversation topic, illustrating Dijkstra’s ideas and freeing the reader from any tiresome imposition of chronology. In a discussion on the notion of the ‘predatory woman,’ Frank Cho’s ‘Ape & Babe,’ a cartoon-ish watercolor and ink portrayal of a blue gorilla smoking a cigarette and carrying a naked, rose-crowned blond on its back, appears opposite James Allen St. John’s ‘Ave Pan,’ an oil painting of two classically-inspired grape-bunch-wielding nudes making an offering to an idol.
Other talking points range from pinup girls to pubic hair, but the book never strays from its well-informed and refreshingly readable focus on America’s tumultuous relationship with the human body." ~City Arts