The Controversy over the Nude in Art



I’m traveling to the Sedona Center for the Arts this week to take a “Figurative Painting from the Undraped Model” class with my mentor, Bob Burridge. In college, I enjoyed classes that used an undraped model, as this technique taught me more than any other. This time-tested method teaches many important considerations, including perspective, shading, foreshortening, lighting, line and design, all in one class.

The topic of nudity also arose in the art history classes that had me on the edge of my seat, hanging on every word. It’s there that I learned that the nude was present in art from the beginning. Today, it is still an important part of any art education.

Titian's Venus of Urbino (1538)

Titian’s “Venus of Urbino” (1538)

Manet's "Olympia" (1863)

Manet’s “Olympia” (1863)

Perhaps it’s due to studying the historical, cultural and technical relevance that I never considered nudity in art improper in the least, and felt completely at ease exploring it through my own artistic pursuits. Nevertheless, I felt shocked and dismayed when I once heard someone comment on my figurative art as “inappropriate.”


My travels have led me to believe that this seems to be predominately an American issue. All the nudes on display in the worlds’ museums, and a general ease with the body found globally, set the stage for an acceptance of the unclothed human figure in art. What are your thoughts on the nude in art? I invite you to join me this week in my studies and explore this subject with me.

One response »

  1. Pingback: Florence, Day 3: A Day of Sculpture and the Nude in Art | Stephanie Schlatter Art

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