Female nude  

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The Birth of Venus (detail), a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli
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The Birth of Venus (detail), a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli

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The Birth of Venus (detail), a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli
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The Birth of Venus (detail), a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli
nudity (art), male nudity, history of nude depictions, ideal beauty

The female nude is an enduring theme in the history of art and especially erotic art. Venus, the Roman goddess of love has acquired in visual art the status of synonym for any female nude.

The nude has become an enduring genre of representational art, especially painting, sculpture and photography. It depicts people without clothes, usually with stylistic and staging conventions that distinguish the artistic elements (such as innocence, or similar theatrical/artistic elements) of being nude with the more provocative state of being naked. A nude figure is one, such as a goddess or a man in ancient Greece, for whom the lack of clothing is its usual condition, so that there is no sexual suggestiveness presumed. A naked figure is one, such as a contemporary prostitute or a businessman, who usually wears clothing, such that their lack of it in this scene implies sexual activity or suggestiveness. The latter were rare in European art from the Medieval period until the latter half of the 1800s; in the interim, a work featuring an unclothed woman would routinely identify her as "Venus" or another Greco-Roman goddess, to justify her nudity. There can be debate with regard to whether a figure in art is either nude or naked for example in some works of Francis Bacon.

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Venus Caelestis and Venus Naturalis

Venus Caelestis and Venus Naturalis

As per Plato's Symposium there are two kinds of Aphrodites (Latin: Venuses), the Aphrodite Ourania (Latin: Venus Caelestis), literarly the heavenly love goddess, corresponding to a love of body and soul and the Aphrodite Pandemos (Latin: Venus Naturalis), literally, the "Venus of the people," corresponding to physical love.

By the late 5th century BC, philosophers separated Aphrodite into two separate goddesses, not individuated in cult: Aphrodite Ourania (Latin Venus Caelestis), born from the sea foam after Cronus castrated Ouranos, and Aphrodite Pandemos (Latin Venus Naturalis), the common Aphrodite "of all the folk," born from Zeus and Dione. Among the neo-Platonists and eventually their Christian interpreters, Aphrodite Ourania figures as the celestial Aphrodite, representing the love of body and soul, while Aphrodite Pandemos is associated with mere physical love. The representation of Aphrodite Ouranos, with a foot resting on a tortoise, was read later as emblematic of discretion in conjugal love; the image is credited to Phidias, in a chryselephantine sculpture made for Elis, of which we have only a passing remark by Pausanias.

Thus, according to the character Pausanias in Plato's Symposium, Aphrodite is two goddesses, one older the other younger. The older, Urania, is the "heavenly" daughter of Ouranos, and inspires homosexual male (and more specifically, ephebic) love/eros; the younger is named Pandemos, the daughter of Zeus and Dione, and all love for women comes from her. Pandemos is the common Aphrodite. The speech of Pausanias distinguishes two manifestations of Aphrodite, represented by the two stories: Aphrodite Ourania ("heavenly" Aphrodite), and Aphrodite Pandemos ("Common" Aphrodite).

Venus vs. Nini

Venus vs. Nini

The Venus and Nini are two terms of art to denote the female nude. They are illustrated here by the Venus (Giorgione) vs. Venus of Urbino (1538) by Titian.

The difference is in their gaze, Giorgione's Venus looks away with her eyes closed, Titian's Venus, painted 28 years later, looks the spectator straight in the eye.

The locale is different too. Giorgione's Venus is set in a pastoral environment, Titian's Venus is in a house.

Giorgione's Venus conjures a mythical being which never really wears any clothes because she lives in a fictional universe, Titian's Venus is your girlfriend, or the model you get intimate with or the call girl who has received you.

Both are female nudes but with regards to the differences enumerated above art critics label the first kind Venus and the second Nini. Idealization vs. homeliness. Remoteness vs. proximity. Hard-to-get vs. available.

Female body shape

female body shape

Female body shape, i.e. the body shape of a woman, has a bearing on a wide range of human activities, and there are and have been widely different body ideals of it in different cultures over history. The female figure is usually narrower at the waist than at the chest and hips, and usually has one of four basic shapes — banana, pear, apple or hourglass. The chest, waist and hips are called inflection points, and the ratios of their circumferences define these basic shapes. Body shape depends on skeletal structure and the distribution of fat in the body.

Some of these body shapes normally occur only in women, although some endocrine conditions or deliberate use of female hormones, such as by transsexuals, can produce them in male bodies. As with most physical traits, there is a wide range of normal female body shapes.

Venus Pudica

Venus Pudica

The Venus Pudica (modest Venus) type is a Venus statue or painting typified by the Aphrodite of Cnidus.

Venus usually covers her breasts with her right hand, and her groin with her left hand. The name pudica refers to pudor, a sense of modesty or shame.

Variants of the Venus Pudica (suggesting an action to cover the breasts) are the Venus de' Medici or the Capitoline Venus.

Eve is usually depicted as a Venus Pudica, such as in Prudence by Giovanni Pisano.

Nude female/dressed male

Nude female/dressed male

The nude female/dressed male motif (as explored first of all in the myth of Pygmalion and Galatea, but also in Cranach's versions of The Judgment of Paris, The Lunch on the Grass [1] by Edouard Manet, Attempting the Impossible [2]by Magritte and Phryné before the Areopagus [3] by Jean-Léon Gérôme) is a trope of eroticism.

The American writer Eve Babitz gained notoriety by posing nude with a dressed Marcel Duchamp in 1963, at the Pasadena Art Museum[4].

See also

External links




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