Western art often depicts nude figures to express human qualities and the beauty of the naked body. A lot of this art work started with the Greeks to express human energy and life.
Nude figures were used during in Ancient Egyptian art to replicate gods and goddesses of the time.
The earliest Greek figures were nude males who were mostly created to be rigid in stance. Nudity was often seen as heroic, so many paintings of Greek gods, goddesses and prominent figures of the time were created in this way.
Many male athletes during Ancient Greek times competed nude to celebrate their bodies, and the male physique was quickly associated with triumph and glory.
Oil paints are commonly used for creating nude art as blending and layering these paints allows it to dry much slower, giving time to create the various hues and textures of the skin and achieve subtle blends which wouldn’t be possible with a fast drying paint.
Famous nude art
Titian – Venus of Urbino (1536-38)
Titan depicted the female body in a beautiful way. This picture of his lover Venus, featured in a domesticated setting which adds an air of elegance is simply wonderful to look at. Venus represents a goddess, which Titan has brought to life in a sensual and unapologetically explicit way.
Michelangelo – Christ (1519-20)
On the other end of the scale from Titan is Michelangelo's creation of Christ. This statue shows the great courage of the artist, who created this to be placed in the centre of Rome. This creation shows a vulnerable side to the figure. The covering of the statue’s genitals was added long after Michelangelo's death, which tarnishes the effect of the creation.
Lucian Freud – Naked Man, Back View (1991-92)
This modern painting gives a much more honest approach to the human body, which can appear to be much more harsh and less elegant in some eyes. This painting was one of a series which gave a different glimpse into nude art, as not all is revealed by the painting. the model for this picture was Leigh Bowery (Australian, 1961–1994), who was a performance artist in London.