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The subject matter and the manner in which it appears through the ages is sometimes academicoften objectifying, and occasionally empowering. This list spans approximately 25, years of art-making and is by no means comprehensive. Rather, it serves as a highlight reel of particularly fascinating instances in which an artist rendered the female form in a manner that additionally captured some aspect of the concurrent culture. It should also be noted that this list is exclusively focused on Western art history.
Found in Willendorf, Austria in the early twentieth century, its purpose has long been a source of debate. An initial, popular theory suggested that the statue was prehistoric pornography. This last theory is also supported by the lack of facial features. The Venus de Milo is characteristic of the Greek understanding of the human body in general rather than of the female form in particular. Still, this sculpture is one of the most famous depictions of the nude body and is therefore a vital piece of this list.
Greek artists placed an emphasis on perfection, athleticism, and symmetry. Statues such as this Venus were never based on one specific model. Rather, artists would observe the most so-called perfect aspects of several models and combine them to create the ultimate example of a human figure. For centuries, artists have returned to this pose and composition for inspiration and to create artwork that exists in dialogue with it.
Although a woodcut has been presented as a possible inspiration for this pose, the nude figure's scale and the artist's singular focus on her were unprecedented. The composition has since remained influential. Additionally—within the context of the female nude—this allowed artists to create a sensual scene featuring two, rather than one, scantily clad women.
Boucher, the ultimate Rococo artist, surely delighted in the production of such an artwork.
This portrait of a French queen is unique in its total lack of any reference to the king. Marie Antoinette is presented as an individual, rather than as an asset. Though the Queen may appear dressed to a modern audience, contemporaneous audiences—and the general public in particular—were scandalized by her lack of clothing.
This painting, though beautiful in its own right, dabbles in several deeply problematic traditions including the diminishing, exoticizingand sexualizing of non-white individuals as well as cultural appropriation. She even appears to have extra vertebrae. Lastly, the central figure is surrounded by objects—a fan, a pipe, and so on—that are meant to situate her within a harem and mark the artwork as Orientalist.
This identity in combination with the subject's so-called confrontational gaze was entirely scandalous to audiences at the time. Today, many academics are more interested in the maid—based on the model Laure—and what her portrayal can tell viewers about racismbeauty, and autonomy. The iconic centerfold image was captured four years before the inaugural edition, when the not-yet-famous Monroe was struggling for cash. A post shared by Kim Kardashian West kimkardashian.
She came into the public consciousness inwhen an ex-boyfriend released their sex tape. According to the star, this was done without her consent. Before the release of Selfisha coffee table book of selfies, Kardashian was hacked by an unknown entity who threatened to release unseen private photos. The star chose to publish the hijacked images in a centerfold series of the book. Though many see Kardashian as an airhead perpetuator of sex-obsession and the objectification of women, one cannot deny the relative autonomy that her nude images possess.
For centuries, the most culturally relevant images of the female body were paintedsculpted, and captured by and for men. Subscribe to our free e-letter! Helena St. Lucia St. Martin St. Outlying Islands U. I agree to be ed. At Large October 8, Ivy Pratt. for information and resources. Ancient Greece. An Iconic Composition Emerges. Giorgione likely completed by TitianSleeping Venus In the Rococo.
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