By Artspace Editors. Since some of humanity's earliest artworks, the nude has been an art form betrothed to passive figures of women, often meant to tantalize and seduce the assumed male viewer, or to embody idealized notions of athleticism and power in the male figure. Still, the nude has largely remained chained to the male gaze, though this is quickly changing as feminist ideals of vulnerability and politics of the body penetrate the art world, making for more critical modes of representation.
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Since time immemorial, the nude form has fascinated painters and artists. The representation of the naked, unveiled body is as old as the history of art itself. And how diverse is the view on the human body, how diverse its design!
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Goya's Nude Maja, confident in her nakedness as she unashamedly gazes out at the viewer, is infamous for her direct confrontation. Rumored to be a portrait of Goya's own mistress, this painting was commissioned for the private boudoir of a wealthy patron, hidden from the public eye. But when discovered, this erotically-charged masterpiece shocked audiences at the time and paved the way for the transgressive, boundary-pushing ethos of Modern Art.
Untitled Bronze 1 Chazen Museum of Art. By John De Andrea. Female Nudes in the Art of Classical Antiquity. The standing male nude kouros first became important in the sculpture of ancient Greecewhich associated the male body with athletic prowess and moral excellence.
The nude figure is a tradition in Western artand has been used to express ideals of male and female beauty and other human qualities. It was a central preoccupation of Ancient Greek artand after a semi-dormant period in the Middle Ages returned to a central position in Western art with the Renaissance. Athletes, dancers, and warriors are depicted to express human energy and life, and nudes in various poses may express basic or complex emotions such as pathos.
No one has ever painted naked women as gorgeously as Titian did. His ravishing Venus is a lover laying her beauty bare, and the recipient of her optical largesse is anyone who happens to stand in front of this painting in the Uffizi gallery in Florence, Italy. Titian creates with mind-boggling skill the lavish presence of this nude: the rapture of her carnal glory. There's something divine about such beauty.