From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Although fine vellus hair is present in the area in childhood, the term pubic hair is generally restricted to the heavier, longer hair that develops with puberty as an effect of rising levels of androgens. Pubic hair is therefore part of the androgenic hair.
Pubic hair in art
In ancient Egyptian art, female pubic hair is straightforwardly indicated in the form of painted black triangles.
In classical European art, it was very rarely depicted, and male pubic hair was often, but not always, omitted. Sometimes it was portrayed in stylized form.
The same was true in much Indian art, and in other Eastern portrayals of the nude.
In Japanese drawings pubic hair is often---such as in hentai---omitted, since for a long time the display of pubic hair was not legal. The interpretation of the law has since changed.
In 16th century southern Europe artists felt able to show male nudity with stylized pubic hair, as in Michelangelo's David and Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man. Nevertheless, Michelangelo’s male nudes on the Sistine chapel ceiling display no pubic hair.
Female bodies remained hairless below the head.
In renaissance northern Europe, pubic hair was more likely to be portrayed than in the South, more usually male, but occasionally female. The first instance of female pubic hair in art is Eve in the Ghent Altarpiece (1432) by the van Eycks, followed by Hans Baldung Grien's Girl and Death (1517) and a little later, in the 1530s, the water nymphs of Lucas Cranach the Elder.
By the 17th century, suggestions of female pubic hair appear in erotic engravings, such as those by Agostino Carracci. By the late 18th century female pubic hair is openly portrayed in Japanese shunga (erotica), especially in the ukiyo-e tradition. Hokusai's picture The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife, depicting a woman having an erotic fantasy, is a well-known example. Despite this Fine art paintings and sculpture created before the 20th century in the Western tradition usually depicted women without pubic hair or a visible vulva.
Denis Diderot writes a little piece of text on pubic hair in art. In the passage "quelques questions que je me suis faites sur la sculpture" (1765), Diderot asks five rhetorical questions on sculpture. The second of these questions is "Pourquoi la sculpture, tant ancienne que moderne, a dépouillé les femmes de ce voile que la pudeur de la nature et l'âge de puberté jettent sur les parties sexuelles, et l'a laissé aux hommes?"
"Why has sculpture, both ancient and modern, depilated women of the veil of modesty which nature and the age of puberty have thrown on the sexual parts, and left it there for men?"
The answer, says Diderot, as translated in the essay "Diderot, Hogarth, and the Aesthetics of Depilation" by Johannes Endres, is that:
- "the charm of this serpentine line, of this long, sweet and light sinuosity that starts off from the extremity of one of the groin-folds and that moves alternately downwards and upwards until it has reached the extremity of the groin-fold; it wishes to tell you that the path of this infinitely agreeable line would have its course cut through an interposed hair-tuft; that this isolated tuft is connected to nothing and serves as a blemish for the woman, while for the man this sort of natural clothing, casting a heavy enough shadow around the nipples, actually becomes lighter on the flanks and sides of the stomach but is still there, although sparsely, moving without interruption to encounter itself more dense, more raised, more full around the natural parts; it wishes to show you that depilated, these natural parts of the man will look like a small intestine, an unpleasantly formed worm."
- le charme de ce serpentement , de cette longue, douce et légère sinuosité qui part de l'extrémité d'une des aines , et qui s'en va s'abaissant et se relevant alternativement , jusqu'à ce qu'elle ait atteint l'extrémité de l'autre aine; il vous dira que le chemin de cette ligne infiniment agréable serait rompu dans son cours par une touffe interposée; que cette touffe isolée ne se lie à rien , et fait tache dans la femme ; au lieu que , dans l'homme , cette espèce de vêtement naturel , d'ombre assez épaisse aux mamelles , va s'éclaircissant , à la vérité , sur les flancs et sur les cotés du ventre ; mais y subsiste , quoique rare, et va , sans s'interrompre , se rechercher elle-même plus serrée , plus élevée , plus fournie autour des parties naturelles. Il vous montrera ces parties naturelles de l'homme, dépouillées, comme un intestin grêle, un ver d'une forme déplaisante.
It has been argued that John Ruskin, the famous author, artist, and art critic, was apparently accustomed only to the hairless nudes portrayed unrealistically in art, never having seen a naked woman before his wedding night. He was allegedly so shocked by his discovery of his wife Effie's pubic hair that he rejected her, and the marriage was later legally annulled. See John Ruskin's marriage to Effie Gray
Francisco Goya's The Nude Maja has been considered as probably the first European painting since the Northern Renaissance to show woman's pubic hair. The painting lost Goya his position as court painter.
Some people experience sexually attraction to or sexual arousal from seeing or touching pubic hair, or from seeing or touching a clean crotch. Some regard this as pubic hair fetishism. A preference for hairless crotch in oneself or in another is known as acomoclitism.
Among the upper class in 19th century Victorian Britain, pubic hair from one's lover was frequently collected as a souvenir. The curls were, for instance, worn like cockades in men's hats as potency talismans, or exchanged among lovers as tokens of affection. The museum of St. Andrews University in Scotland has in its collection a snuff box full of pubic hair of one of King George IV's mistresses, possibly Elizabeth Conyngham, which the notoriously licentious monarch donated to the Fife sex club, The Beggar's Benison.
In Western societies, exposure of a woman's body hair below her neck has traditionally and continues to be widely disapproved of culturally. It may be regarded as immodest and sometimes obscene. Many people consider exposure of pubic hair to be embarrassing. With the reduction in the size of swimsuits, especially since the coming into fashion and growth in popularity of the bikini since the 1940s, the practice of bikini waxing has also come into vogue. However, some people also remove pubic hair that is not exposed, for aesthetic, personal hygiene, cultural, religious, fashion or other reasons.
In more recent times, models and actors who appeared nude on stage, film or photography used to shield their frontal genital area by the angle of their body or leg in relation to the camera, or in some other way; but now it is more common for female adult entertainers who appear nude, such as strippers and pornographic actresses, to remove their pubic hair. The presentation is regarded as more erotic and aesthetic, while others consider the style as unnatural. Some people remove pubic hairs for erotic and sexual reasons or because they or their sex partner enjoy the feel of a clean crotch.
- User:Jahsonic/Notes on pubic hair in Western art
- Diderot, Hogarth, and the Aesthetics of Depilation
- User:Jahsonic/Diderot on pubic hair in sculpture
- Brazilian waxing
- Frontal nudity