This piece contains explicit imagery. Please consider it NSFW. A dude walks into a feminist art show— bada-bum.
By Hugo Gye. When the treasures of Pompeii were unearthed in the 18th century, you might imagine that archaeologists would have been keen to show off their finds, which revolutionised modern understanding of the Roman world. But one part of the collection was hidden away for nearly years - the erotic art which was a central part of everyday life as it adorned the houses of local citizens.
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Depictions of nudity include visual representations of nudity through the history, in all the disciplines, including the arts and sciences. Nudity is restricted in most societies, but some depiction of nudity may serve a recognized social function. Clothing also serves as a significant part of interpersonal communication, and the lack of clothing needs to have a social context. In Western societies, the three contexts that are easily recognized by a majority of individuals are artpornographyand information or science.
Skip to main content. In an article of Walter Sickert famously condemned the highly artificial nature of the nude championed by academic painting. The modern flood of representations of the vacuous images dignified by the name of the Nude, represents an intellectual bankruptcy that cannot but be considered degrading, even by those who do not believe the treatment of the naked human figure reprehensible on moral or religious grounds.
Sexually explicit art is found in all cultures. Artists as diverse as Pablo Picasso and Jeff Koons blended high art and kitsch in an attempt to push the boundaries of good taste. There was a time, however, when works of art by great masters were considered vulgar and pornographic.
Western art has always been inherently and inevitably phallocentric, as inscribed within a social, political and linguistic structure that favours the male as subject, and relegates the female to object. Until the 19th century, men —in various forms of art, but especially in painting— depicted women in idealised forms, rendering their beauty as an object of the excited male gaze. Within this context, paintings of naked women were accepted as far as the female subjects on the canvas were either represented with a godlike appearance or located within a mythological framework, since explicit eroticism was culturally censored.
It began with the Ancient Greeks, who sculpted nude male figures as ideal humans or gods, using athletes that exercised nude as models. Only later were female statues done also. The basic reason for the Nude in art is the fact that human beings are endlessly fascinated by the beauty and meaning that can be expressed visually only by the naked body.
Since the beginning of civilization, humans have incorporated sexuality into erotic art, worship, and daily life. There have been cultures and times were explicit references to sexuality were more accepted by societal norms, and times when there have not. However, the repressive view of sexuality espoused by the Church in the Middle Ages, and then the repressed sexuality of the Victorian era have left many in the Western world believing that few if any in the past were willing and able to accept and even revel in their sexuality.
We're here to let you in on a pretty widely known secret about art history: It's dirtier than you remember. Visions of Venus and sensual octopuses are probably filling your memory now -- yes, your art history classes were more exciting than you first thought. In celebration of the wildly erotic tendencies of artists over the centuries, we've put together a list of the most jaw-dropping-ly sensual artworks you might have forgotten about since your sophomore year stint in a Renaissance art survey course.