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The corporal beauty of man and woman is a rich subject for artists who, depending on the techniques used, are able to glorify skin, curves and blemishes. What could be more beautiful than the very essence of the body? KAZoART has identified numerous talented contemporary artists taking on this timeless genre. Discover our most stunning nude paintings!
Nudity personifies the fragility of man. Which is why, in Christian art, Adam and Eve are depicted nude and remain the only protagonists in the Bible (with the exception of Jesus) to be presented in this way in nude paintings (eg. Masaccio's Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Garden). Until the Renaissance, nudity, by its very definition, was destined only to reveal the perfect bodies of men and women in accordance with the codes and morals of the era. And who better than the gods to personify this perfection (eg. Lucas Cranach The Elder's Venus and Cupid; Botticelli's The Birth of Venus)? The sensual and sexual aspect of the body was originally rejected. Only the purity of the nature of these figures was expressed in the genre.
Nonetheless, the erotic aspect was present in the history of art and saw its apogee in the 18th century, notably with the paintings of Boucher (The Brunette Odalisc) and Fragonard (A Young Girl Sleeping). The resurgence in interest in Antiquity in the late 18th century and early 19th century led certain artists to employ the codes of the Old Masters to honour the contemporary subjects depicted in nude paintings (eg. Grande Odalisque).
The body was only tackled in its veracity in the 20th century (Manet's The Origin of the World) and could even be considered, with Egon Schiele and Lucian Freud, as the personification of the mental torments of the subjects depicted.
From Antiquity to the Renaissance, nudes in painting and sculpture were the classic representation of the heroes, gods and goddesses of various mythologies. Often idealized in their proportions depending on the subject depicted, the human body followed models of beauty that varied according to the codes of the era (eg. Hellenistic postures and wet drapery for Antiquity). In nude paintings, bodies were generally small and fragile, and sexual attributes, when not hidden by drapery or a vine leaf, were of reduced in size.
In the Renaissance, the anatomy of the body was studied, leading to male nude paintings depicting men with excessive musculature.
In the 17th and 18th century, the codes of beauty evolved. Whilst the depiction of male nudity changed only slightly (men were generally depicted as muscled), the bodies found in female nude paintings became more curved, leading clearly to more present flesh. Women with curves were beautiful!
In the 20th century, artists no longer sought to idealize men and women's bodies in nude paintings. They finally dared to reproduce the body as it was, almost photographically. Sometimes crude and violent, anatomical faults appeared unashamedly in these works.