Museum Kurhaus / Kleef

Ewald Mataré Verzameling

The Naked Body - A Matter of Perspective 26.11.2021–30.01.2022

How the naked body is evaluated – and whether a body is perceived to be naked – depends significantly on the historical, social, religious, and cultural – and political – context. Nakedness awakens contradictory associations, it is ambivalent and may equally have positive or negative implications: the naked body symbolises nature and freedom – the primal – and also relationship, love, and sexuality; it symbolises self-determination and agency, it may express health, vitality, and strength, and it may also function as a powerful medium for protest. On the other hand, nakedness may be a symbol of vulnerability, associated with exposure and shame. The naked body is subject to a multitude of social norms, in terms of gender and sexual orientation, skin colour, body forms, or health (dis/ability) and fitness.

The exhibition “Der nackte Körper – Eine Frage der Perspektive” (“The Naked Body – A Matter of Perspective”) is a collaborative project between the social science bachelor’s programme Gender and Diversity at the Hochschule Rhein-Waal and the Museum Kurhaus Kleve. In the collaborative project “Der nackte Körper – Eine Frage der Perspektive” (“The Naked Body – A Matter of Perspective”), students of Gender and Diversity Studies in the social sciences engage with art and art history. As young curators, they have examined the collection of the Museum Kurhaus Kleve and developed three themes: they focus on artistic depiction, but also on the break with ideals of the naked body. They bring to attention artworks that present nakedness in a positive and self-empowering way. And they also look for decolonial, diverse perspectives on the naked body in art. The exhibition project is concerned with the struggle for a different, emancipatory narrative with a view to the naked body.

This exhibition includes works from the museum’s collection, supplemented by loaned artworks selected by the young student curators from the Gender and Diversity study programme of the Faculty of Society and Economics of the Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences. Additionally, artistic works have been especially created for the exhibition under the leadership of the artist, photographer and lecturer Kirsten Becken by students of the study programme Information and Communication Design of the Faculty of Communication and Environment. The spectrum of artworks on display includes sculptures, paintings, drawings, graphic art, photography, and also films and videos: from the 16th century to the present day. 

A booklet will accompany the exhibition. An extensive accompanying programme with performances, panel discussions, lectures and workshops allows for a more in-depth examination of the topic. The aim of this exhibition project is to reflect common perspectives on the naked body in a dialogue between art / art history and (social science) gender and diversity studies, and to challenge them in relation to body norms and colonial imprints, thus to dare a change of perspective from the naked body as an object to a subject, to agency.

The exhibition includes works by the following artists: Ellen Auerbach, Stephan Balkenhol, Kirsten Becken, Joseph Beuys, Jodi Bieber, AA Bronson, Kennedi Carter, Emil Cimiotti, Sophia Cockburn, Marlene Dumas, Va-Bene Elikem Fiatsi (crazinisT artisT), Andrea Fraser, Renée Green, Hendrick Goltzius, Hanns Lamers, Jocelyn Lee, Alla Magdina, Gerhard Marcks, Ewald Mataré, Zanele Muholi, Richard Phillips, R. H. Quaytman, Pipilotti Rist, Jürgen Teller, Ming-Jing Tsai, Paloma Varga Weisz, Kefan Weng, Franz West, Johann Andreas Wolff, Tobias Zielony and more.

The exhibition was initiated by Crystal Hassell (Rhine-Waal University) and curated by the students Runa Autzen, Konul Bilalova Boecker, Stephanie Finkler, Karen Gumiel-Silva, Crystal Hassell, Farhin Sohan Kabir, Aylin Klisura, Jana Küppers, Luna Orsini, Rutu Gole, Zama Madondo, Yi-Ning Su, Tamunosiki Tende, Lynn Marie Watzka (all Rhine-Waal University) with the guidance of Gerd Borkelmann, Alexandra Eerenstein (both freelancers), Valentina Vlašić (Museum Kurhaus Kleve) and Eva Maria Hinterhuber (Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences).

The exhibition is complemented by an extensive accompanying programme (see and „News“): teams of curators and students offer thematic guided tours. A panel discussion will bring together the various perspectives on the naked body in art from gender studies, artistic creation, art education and curating. In her lecture, Atlanta Ina Beyer deals with male homoeroticism, censorship and unacknowledged desire. A film evening opens up the possibility to watch Zanele Muholi's „Difficult Love“ together and to engage with queer, but also decolonial positions in art. Workshops led by Kirsten Becken, Gerd Borkelmann and Alexandra Eerenstein together with students invite you to actively and artistically engage with the topic. And artistic performances by the body painter Corinna Lenzen on the subject of naked bodies and by the Dutch artist duo „mir*pluck“ in the context of queerness enrich the vernissage and finissage.

The exhibition is a cooperation project between the Museum Kurhaus Kleve and the Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences.


The exhibition is supported by

•    Ministerium für Kultur und Wissenschaften des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen
•    Freundeskreis Museum Kurhaus und Koekkoek-Haus Kleve e.V. 

With kind support of

•    Stadt Kleve 
•    Sparkasse Rhein-Maas
•    The Rilano Hotel Cleve City
•    WDR 3 – Kulturpartner des Museum Kurhaus Kleve 


Renée Green, This was now then, 1994
Jürgen Teller, Erin, Paris, 2004
AA Bronson, Nest Paul & Scott, 2004


mkk Broschüre Naked Body_01 (PDF)