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A visit to any major art gallery quickly reveals that portrayal of the nude figure goes back a long way. Indeed simplified drawings of unclothed people have been found in prehistoric art dating back millennia. However attitudes have changed substantially over the centuries. The early Christian world regarded depictions of the naked form as sinful and used drapery to conceal its natural shape. Ancient Greek artists were more enlightened and preferred to emphasize the lines of the body. They developed an idealized concept of beauty based upon physical measurement and classic proportions, and reconciled the sensuousness of the athletic male nude with rational order.

Since the Renaissance the nude has become well established as a form of artistic expression, but also inextricably linked with morality and the upholding of standards. Modern times have seen art students drawing from life models as an objective exercise in the study of shape, form and tonal gradation. Today, nudity surrounds us – on newsstands, in cinemas, and on television and the stage.


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