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Diadoumenos, Roman copy of work by Polykleitos, AD 69-96

The Male Nude in Western Art

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Love it or hate it, it’s hard to deny that the male nude has taken a back seat to the female nude in the history of western art.

Female nudes outnumber male ones in major museum collections. When curators just write “nude” in a caption, they tend to mean female nude; if the subject is a man, they almost always write “male nude.” And when the Rivington Design House gallery in New York put a photograph of a nude man in the window several years ago, it caused a minor scandal.

But this was not always so...  >> Read more >>

Michelangelo's ignudo from Sistine Chapel ceiling

Michelangelo’s Love Sonnets to Tommaso dei Cavalieri

That Michelangelo (1475-1564) admired the beauty of the male body is clear from his art. He left behind a large corpus of art that exalts the muscled bodies of nude men—including drawings of anatomical and mythological subjects, the ignudi of the Sistine Chapel frescoes, and sculptures. His statue of the nude David, sculpted between 1501 and 1504, is routinely cited as one of the greatest works of art in the world.

That he loved men is also no secret: He said so himself, in dozens of poems and letters that have come down to us. Whether any of these relationships extended to sex has been endlessly debated...  >> Read more >>