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Nudity in the history of art: How the attitude towards nudes from Venus of the Paleolithic to classical painting has changed
Thanks to Ivan Efremov and his “Thais of Athens” the general public became aware of the concepts of “hymnophiles” – that is, singing nudity – and “hymnophobia” – those who oppose the image of a naked human body. Since the topic of nudity in contemporary art is often quite provocative, does this suggest that the latter are currently setting the tone?
The first hymnophiles in art
Hesion, carefully massaging Thais’s head, timidly reprimanded her, reproaching the temptation of fate:
“And no matter how afraid you are, madam, to appear naked in front of such a gathering of soldiers.” They caught you like a dolphin! ..
“If there are a lot of truly brave and strong men around you, you can consider yourself completely safe,” the getter answered her with a laugh, “they are Hellenes, and especially Spartans.” Remember this, come in handy. Above all, remember that men are usually more shy than us. If we follow the customs, we find ourselves much bolder, and they are embarrassed. Continue reading
The history of art knows many examples when, at the change of cultural eras, works created by predecessors begin to be perceived not quite correctly. Probably the most revealing in this case is the example of the appearance of fig leaves on antique statues. For the sake of preserving moral principles in the Middle Ages, thousands of ancient masterpieces underwent “great castration”. Interestingly, this tradition is gaining a “second wind” today.
The theme of nudes in art often becomes a stumbling block and still causes heated debate so far – does the artist have the right to expose her model, is this really an artistic device or just a way to attract unhealthy attention? In the case of ancient statues, it would seem that the issue was resolved a long time ago and unequivocally: they were created in the culture where nudity in men was considered normal and did not cause an ambiguous reaction. Continue reading
Optical illusions are not a new phenomenon, the first “illusionists” were ancient creators. With the development of painting, the skill of artists in creating fake paintings was also improved – at first confusing, always bewitching and memorable.
It is now impossible to determine which of the ancient artists guessed about the possibilities that the image opens on the flat surface of a three-dimensional object. But both the Greeks and the Romans used the drawings on the walls in order to visually enlarge the room, to make it lighter, more spacious, more beautiful – so false windows, doors, atriums appeared. Findings in Pompeii and Herculaneum – ancient Roman cities where most of the frescoes of antiquity have survived – show that even in those days, illusion paintings were popular. Continue reading