Sympathetic Magic: Skin and Canvas

The skin, the membrane, the corporeal envelope, the shroud, the veil - all those things that tend to separate and define appearances from either the being inside, or from the beingness outside - have provided a source of some of the most rich and persistent metaphors for Western culture. With the 20th century bringing a re-emergence of the idea of the skin as an organ rather than a boundary, notions and representations of the physical body dominated the work of last century and painting returned as an important medium for such depictions. This article looks at the metaphoric and literal relationship between skin and its various representations in contemporary art.

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