Graduation Year

Spring 2013

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Susan Rankaitis

Reader 2

Adam Davis

Reader 3

Elana Mann

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Rights Information

© 2013 Sophia R. Forman


At the nexus of the seemingly disparate art-theoretical topics of color and the female nude is a critical consideration of phenomenology in both one of its most basic senses—as the first-person experience of perceived phenomena—and as a larger philosophical position which, through its abstraction of perception to subject-object relationships, implicates the painted figure. Specifically, this paper conflates the phenomenology of color with the transcendental phenomenology of Edmund Husserl and Maurice Merleau-Ponty in investigating empathy. Structured as a dialectic, it establishes the most prominent views of both color and the female nude—the nude as a symbolic figure, color as perceptual experience—before delving into their various points of theoretical and art-historical intersection within these categories. This analysis ultimately forms the argument that color can be a powerful tool in reclaiming the female nude figure, stimulating emotive bodies that inspire empathetic viewers and intersubjective rather than objectifying, or abjectifying, dialogues.


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