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Nude paintings

Carré d'artistes presents a wide selection of contemporary nude paintings. The artistic nude is a privileged genre in the history of art. It has always been one of the favourite subjects of painters, sculptors, designers, not to mention photographers. Contemporary painting extends this artistic tradition by continuing to paint nudes, whether female or male.

The history of the nude in painting

Importance of nude painting

Representing the nudity of the human body in all its forms, regardless of gender, age or body type, has been part of artistic learning for a long time. It is an important and necessary step in any training in painting or sculpture. The history of art is punctuated by numerous drawings of nudes and sketches, in order to understand the anatomy, the postures, and the representation of a human body. Thus, we find many paintings of nudes: whether it is the main subject, or a detail in a painting, nudity is very frequent in painting.


The nude has been present in painting since prehistoric times. Indeed, prehistoric men painted (and sculpted), in general, naked bodies. There are also some traces of nudes in some bas-reliefs of ancient Egypt. But it is especially in ancient Greece, then in Rome, that nude painting in art developed considerably. Greek vases, for example, are frequently adorned with nude human figures, whether male or female. Conversely, nudity becomes rare and hidden during the period of the Middle Ages, it is then associated with original sin and human misery.

It was during the Renaissance that nude painting gained momentum and got rid of its negative image. The artists of the time were inspired by antiquity, and the naked body is generally found in mythological paintings , as in The birth of Venus by Botticelli (1485), or in religious paintings. But the Counter-Reformation prohibits the representations of nudes in places of worship, it is at this time that the nudes of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel are retouched, along with many other works of art. Later, nudity slowly returns to centre stage, with the paintings of Caravaggio for example. The paintings of Ingres, at the beginning of the 19th century, often reveal female nudity, as in Grande Odalisque, or The Valpinçon Bather. Olympia, by Manet, can also be cited as one of the greatest paintings in nude painting. There is, in fact, a return to the nude in the romantic or realistic period of the 19th century. The Origin of the World by Gustave Courbet, sums up in itself the artistic renewal carried out in the representation of nudes in painting. Without forgetting non-European art which also explores the theme of the nude in painting.

The characteristics of the nude

Nude painting is characterized by the representation of the nudity of the human body. It also includes a representation that would be partial, thus showing a part of the body usually hidden and alluding to nudity. Frequently, sails cover the sexual parts of the body. It is often moral modesty or religious prohibitions that prevent painters from representing the complete nudity of their subjects. They are sometimes later additions to works deemed shocking and obscene at a particular time. The history of art is full of anecdotes on this subject. Today, the nude is accepted as a genre in its own right and is no longer censored, but in the twentieth century, some nude paintings are still shocking, like the young girls painted by Balthus. The nude can be provocative, a sensual and soft image soft of a human body, or an allegory or an ingenious symbol.

Its evolution

Before the 20th century, the representation of a nude in a painting was not considered a subject in its own right: we used to speak of “nudities” and they were reserved for religious, mythological or allegorical paintings. The 19th century begins to upset conventions somewhat, followed by the 20th century. Cubism, abstract art and other pictorial schools come to redefine what a nude painting can be, as in Picasso's painting, The Ladies of Avignon (1906), or that of Modigliani's Reclining Nude (1917). The rise of psychoanalysis has also changed the ordinary perception of nudity. Distortions in the body appear, as in Egon Schiele's or Lucian Freud's paintings.

At Carré d'artistes, discover nude paintings by contemporary artists: François Sahuc, Martine Chaperon, Yo, Corine Pagny , and many others, which offers you their perceptions of nude painting.


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