Nude and Naked Women in the Arts: Mexico and Beyond is a study of female nudity as represented by men and women in Mexico and other parts of the world through analysis of both the high arts and folk arts. Eli Bartra explores the diverse forms of artistic expression and their link to the social construction of female gender. This approach is crucial to understanding how forms of discrimination are created and recreated — sometimes in very apparent ways and other times more subtly — and how they contribute to the perpetuation of gender hierarchies. Eli Bartra examines the assertion of gender differences in artistic creation and the sexist (and at times misogynistic) imagery of nude women as represented by men.
Eli Bartra is distinguished professor in women's studies at Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Xochimilco, Mexico City.
Chapter I. On Female Creativity
Chapter II. Nudes in the West
Chapter III. Visual Arts Populated by Nudes
Chapter IV. Nudes in Mexican Art
Chapter V. Towards a Feminist Visual Perspective in Mexican Arts
Epilogue. On Similarity and Difference
Eli Bartra has used her encyclopedic mastery of Mexican art to produce a book of critical and intellectual importance. Nudes and Naked Women in the Arts offers a gendered, feminist analysis of nudes and nakedness in art. Her comments on specific works of art will not only fascinate readers but will also work against over-simplification and over-generalization. Equally important, it puts Mexican artists' use of nudes and nakedness into a conversation with related work in other parts of the globe, and in doing so counters a traditional art criticism that has neglected work from the global south.
In Nudes and Naked Women in the Arts, Eli Bartra offers an ambitious and successful overview of the female nude in western and Mexican art, skillfully dissecting the male gaze in canonical works and contrasting it with women and queer artists' distinct, often decolonizing portrayals of naked women. From Goya’s Nude Maja to Oaxaca folk artist Josefina Aguilar Alcántara's clay mermaids, the range of art and the depth of Bartra's analysis are breathtaking.