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Vanessa Beecroft captures the modern-day ambiguities of feminine sexuality and image, as represented by nudity, like no other artist...more discerningly and more revealingly than any other artist. Groups of nude women sit around a long dinner table or stand in groups as if waiting for a bus. At first sight, except for their nudity, they look casual and normal. But longer viewing betrays a stiltedness, as if the women cannot get out of their subtle caricatures to communicate or touch one another in any genuine way. Other works are not so subtle on this central theme of the artificiality forced on most women in contemporary culture--such as the picture of a woman seemingly strapped to a hospital bed. The blank white, antiseptic, backgrounds of many of Beecroft's performance-like works and photographs emphasize the speciman-like quality and unreality of the figures in the foreground. Beecroft's similar group scenes with men in uniforms are ingenious counterpoints to the group scenes of nude women, while also making a point about masculine image. Snapshots and drawings having the rawness and tentativeness of experiments rather than the more complex imagery of the larger works nonetheless by their passive, somewhat anesthetized subjects, skewed angles, or provocative colors, affix aspects of Beecroft's main theme. Beecroft was born in Genoa in 1969. Showing major works along with a variety of lesser works, the book exhibits the distinctive art on contemporary preoccupations by which this artist has gained her much-deserved recognition.
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