Untitled (Mary Magdelene), 1930
Untitled (Mary Magdalene) is an example of how Richard Nugent conveyed his homosexuality in his art fairly clearly. The painting is of a woman who is completely nude and seems to be standing up or coming forth from the page she is painted on. She is nude but her private parts are not of a typical woman. The figure is “performing a sexy burlesque of hyperbolized gender…[which] seem to mimic gender rather than express its authenticity .” This mimicry and hypergenderilization make this piece unique and even borderline grotesque. The nipples of the woman are very out of portion of the rest of her body and are erect to a very extreme level. Her facial make up is also very ‘draggish’ in style; one can assume that Nugent was pulling inspiration from the nightlife he often frequented. The color of her skin, thin painted on eye brows and lips and hair that is long and colorful all points to the performativity of her sexual expression and gender as a whole. The title of the series gains inspiration from a play entitled Salome that came out during the Harlem Renaissance, and the play itself made Salome the “characterization of … a potent symbol of sexual transgression. ” The sexualization of all images of the series is clear, but this image is the strongest in its features and over sexualization, with clear vagina exposed beneath translucent triangles and lips pursed. The image is powerful and expected of Nugents type of art.
Richard Bruce Nugent
Cidney Michelle Holliday