Why do artists paint naked women?
How come they always paint naked women and not men? Whenever they paint a man, they cover their crotch with a sheet or something but when they paint a women, they paint everything? I know it’s not always like this but for the most part it seems to be the way to go. What’s up with that?
The Nude spans the entire history of Western art.
It began with the Ancient Greeks, who sculpted nude male figures as ideal humans or gods, using athletes that exercised nude as models. Only later were female statues done also. The Romans continued this tradition, but the nude basically disappeared from art during the Middle Ages except for the occasional Adam & Eve. The Renaissance restored the nude, with the same idealized versions of gods and goddesses, some revised into biblical heroes such as Michelangelo’s David.
Sexually explicit images may have always been done, but not for public display.
Many see the “odalisques” painted from the 16th to the 19th centuries as little more than soft-core porn, with passive women displayed for male viewing. This was a period of stagnation in art that the Impressionists rebelled against by painting real women that were obviously not goddesses, and that was the scandal of Manet’s Olympia.
The basic reason for the Nude in art is the fact that human beings are endlessly fascinated by the beauty and meaning that can be expressed visually only by the naked body. Sexuality may always be a part of this, but the artworks that have endured always include something more; an emotional connection, empathy. Modern nudes such as those by Lucien Freud or Jenny Saville do this.
(All images copywrite of LifeArt School and Leonie.e.Brown Artist)
Jenny Saville: ‘I want to be a painter of modern life, and modern bodies’
(No copyright infringement is intended. Image Credit Copyright Jenny Saville, Lucian Freud, Olimpia by Manet)