Madonna Nude By Peter Howson Causes Media Scramble

By Jon Pratty | 12 April 2002
The main portrait depicts Madonna lying in bed next to several biblical symbols.

Left: the main portrait depicts Madonna lying in bed next to several biblical symbols.

The world's press descended on Ayr this week desperate to see a painting of a 44 year old mother of two.

Peter Howson's new show at Ayr's Maclaurin Gallery, on until June 4, is called 'The Third Step.' Within the show are two paintings of an unclothed Madonna.

Madonna is thought to have been collecting Howson's work since 1989, and the artist relates how she told him his work is 'both powerful and sad.'

Howson (b.1958) studied at Glasgow School of Art in the early 1970's, then made his name as one of Britain's leading painters after being spotted by Angela and Matthew Flowers in the seminal 1980's exhibition 'New Image , Glasgow.'

Second picture shows Madonna squatting in a graveyard.

Right: the second picture shows Madonna squatting in a graveyard: "it should remind her of her own mortality," said Howson in his statement.

Within a few years Howson's work was selling for tens of thousands of pounds, and was being collected by Madonna, David Bowie and Bob Geldof. He was, however, suffering from a series of addictions and intense depressions.

Several spells in Bosnia as an official War Artist resulted in stunning, intense and politically uncompromising paintings, as well as extreme mental anguish for the artist.

In a statement posted on his own website Howson reveals the motivation behind the show.

According to Howson, the paintings are intended as a tribute to Madonna, and it wasn't his intention to criticise or make fun of her.

"This exhibition, and the one in London that co-incides with it is NOT just about Madonna."

"The two exhibitions are about my REBIRTH as an artist and a person. I feel as if I have come back from the dead."

"This exhibition is about my battle with alchoholism and drug addiction, my rehabilitation at CASTLECRAIG CLINIC in Peeble and my new found faith in Christianity."

"I have come out of a long tunnel into the light."

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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