Why do we stop ourselves with from appreciating the human form which we all have? To this day, many of us enjoy and appreciate nude art but are apprehensive to have it in their home because of the sexual connotations nudity has.
Subtle Moonlight, a gres piece limited to 500 numbered pieces.
Taboo, sexuality and eroticism, are the first things our mind jump to when confronted with a nude form, we tend to not know where to look or look away entirely. However, this is simply a by-product of a long history of indoctrination mostly by societal convention and pressures. Art has always pushed the boundaries of taboo and social norms and historically elevated the naked form out of unacceptability by exploring nudity as a representation of the pinnacle of vulnerability and human prowess.
In Ancient Greece, nude art was seen as one of the highest forms of artistry as it represented the Gods perfect creation in the human body and the mastery over a discipline and the proportions of the body. It was only really after the rise of the Abrahamic religions that nudity in art became viewed as taboo or sinful. However, a reinvigorated interest during the renaissance in the classics saw these ideas commonly explored in Ancient Greece and Rome challenged and relooked at and examined in a new context. These ideas still hold today, where artists spend long hours studying the human body and its mechanics and art students are encouraged to know the body before they develop a style. The mastery of proportions is no easy achievement so much so that achieving this often serves to elevate the subject as a showcase of the body.
An Everlasting Moment - notice the ease at which both figures rest, the feeling of complete trust is palpable between them.
Nudity often represents a visual metaphor for a greater message or idea the artist is communicating. As seeing someone in the nude is usually indicative of openness, vulnerability, a lack of pretence, armour or care for social restraints. We need look no further than Lladró’s An Everlasting Moment Sculpture to observe this.
At first glance, one might think this is quite a sensual piece given that it features a nude couple and in close contact. However, this piece presents a certain openness between the couple, through their nakedness and relaxed positions we can see an unmistakable sense of intimacy and trust rather than sexuality. This piece presents us with a private look into a moment rarely seen outside of a private setting, a moment of peace and vulnerability between two people.
Since ancient times, the ideal human form was a point of much debate and exploration, a male figure in peak human condition was generally considered the ideal. Even in the 21st Century, we are still debating what the ideal human form is or if there even is one. The Ancient Greeks were very much obsessed with a projection of strength and heroism and this was considered to be shown best in nude art or in feats of physical skill and prowess as seen in the Olympics which we performed in the nude. Today, strength is known to come in many different forms, however, the nude still remains a poignant and effective visual tool to display strength.
Love’s Bond Figurine (left), & Paternal Protection Figurine (right).
Take Love’s Bond and Paternal Protection, both pieces actually convey similar themes and messages. They show us an intimate moment between parent and child, of openness, unguarded love and raw emotion. We see both figurines are physically strong but deeper than that, there is a quiet, resolute strength conveyed through their lack of clothing and protective almost cocooning stances. By removing the restraint of clothing and presenting these figures as they are, all other distractions are erased and it is the simple but sure image of parental strength that remains.
In many ways, the nude is the most natural expression of our humanity that there is. We attach so many connotations and conventions to the idea of nudity but it is our most sincere state of being, art only brings that to the surface and encourages us to question our life.