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The representation of the male nude in the fine arts was once viewed as the noblest of artistic endeavours. In Ancient Greece, the male physique represented a potent symbol of Greek civilization, power, and superiority. This reverence for the power of the male nude is evident in the paintings, sculptures, pottery, and other decorative arts of classical Greek culture. The reasons for this decline are numerous and complex - involving issues relating to religion, homophobia, pornography, the dominance of the "male gaze" in art, and, perhaps to a lesser extent, the development and proliferation of visual imagery on the Internet and social media It is against this backdrop of the gradual decline in the status of the male nude in art that I seek to create male portraits that are as beautiful as they are timeless. A return to the days when the male nude was considered the highest form of artistic expression. My hope is to make a small contribution to restoring the male nude to its rightful place in the world of fine art without resorting to the unnecessary sexualization of the men being portrayed.
By Artspace Editors. Historically made to embody strength, power, and virility, the male nude can also evoke beauty, vulnerability, and sexual intrigue. As we discussed with the photography critic Philip Gefter , these images of the body have the potential to challenge taboos around male eroticism and identity , paving the way for future explorations of what it means to be male. This list, excerpted from Phaidon 's new book Body of Art , includes examples from monumental 17th century chalk drawings and Enlightenment-era scientific models to contemporary hyperrealistic sculptures—all proudly owning their nakedness.
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