Seeing Through Clothes

by Anne Hollander, The Viking Press

24.5 X 17cm. 504 pages

I thought I wanted to paint people. It didn’t occurre to me that I’d mostly paint clothes. Clothing has a huge impact on the meaning of a painting. It informs the subject’s period, age, sexuality and status. Nudity isn’t an out either. It’s the biggest clothing statement of all. When I would look at old paintings I’d often note that figures seemed oddly proportioned. I’d think, couldn ’t these painters see how people are actually shaped? Surely in this image saturated age painters now depict reality. Oh how naive I was. The adolescent fantasies that many contemporary painters pass off as figures are as distorted as Ruben’s bellies, and then there are runway models. Ms. Hollander’s book traces the history and significance of drapery, raiment and nudity throughout western art. It is a fascinating and engrossing study. Read it and you will forever see figurative painting in a differant light.