Nudity in Art History

by Peter J. Mancus,


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Nudes have been the consistent, common, Number One, theme in secular and religious art, through out history, from when a primitive caveman used charcoal to scratch a nude on the walls of his cave to the 21st Century when millions use cameras to capture a nude’s image.

Historians report that the first female nude, the goddess of love, Aphrodite, appeared approximately the 4th century BC, created by sculptors.

From then, until now, societies, religions, and governments, have manifested an arguably schizophrenic, conflicting, persistent, double- standard, with some supporting nudity in the name of art and others being vehemently against nudity, except in the doctor’s office or the bedroom with one’s lawful spouse.

Approximately 13th century AD, the female nude was the dominant respectable major theme for all forms of visual arts.

For several centuries, European artists, mainly Italians, portrayed nudes in idealized forms, typically in grand mythological or religious contexts.

Gradually, the classical, idealized nude increasingly became portrayed in a more frivolous, commercialized, exploitive, sensuous, and/or lighthearted manner.

With the invention of photography, the nude maintained center stage as the Number One subject for artists, world wide, in all media, all continents, all languages, all cultures. This is not amazing because the good Lord exceeded himself when he designed “woman”. Those curves, oh my God, those alluring curves, have a tremendous, alluring, powerful pull, on a heterosexual man’s heart, loins, and eyeballs!

God made Man an extremely visual creature. As such heterosexual men cannot make fast enough artistic images of naked women. That is a fair reading of and an accurate summary of much of human history.

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