Thomas Kren October 9, 8 min read. Images of the naked human body provoke conflicting feelings: shame, admiration, curiosity, desire, disgust, anger. This is especially true when these images appear in public spaces, whether physical or virtual. Nudity on European beaches, for example, is falling in popularity because of shame linked to social media. Facebook has drawn ire for removing images of naked bodies by celebrated artists such as Peter Paul Rubens and Pablo Picasso.
The Ethics of the Female Nude
Can a Male Artist Still Paint a Female Nude?
For contemporary feminists, the role of female nudity in Renaissance Art presents an astounding array of ethical contradictions. While formally beautiful, such uses of nudity can be seen to reduce women to their sexuality and inherently perpetuate sexist ideals. The analysis of such works opens discussions of gender politics, identity, eroticism, and the very roots of art historical traditions. I will use this work to serve as an example of the many areas of contradiction which arise from feminist interpretations of female nudity in Renaissance works, and I will contextualize it with other relevant works. In full, I will discuss the variety of discourses surrounding female nudity in art, and the application of ethicist principles as a resolve to the contradictions which they raise.
Wonder why you see more naked women than men on-screen? Maybe you’re asking the wrong question.
Paintings of naked women, usually by clothed men, are suddenly sitting very uncomfortably on gallery walls. Male artists wonder whether they can work with the female form, while the world questions what their intentions were in the first place. By Michael Slenske. And the question of the moment has become: Is it still an artistically justifiable pursuit for a man to paint a naked woman?
Often, those scenes are sexualized. Frequently, the bare body parts belong to women. Overwhelmingly, audiences accept flashes of breast or bottom without much protest. Female nudity on-screen is commonplace, at times even banal.