T he oddity of ancient sculpture often escapes us. A male nude, a Greek statue, has become very familiar over the past 2, years: it is what we expect of ancient statuary, that it show off its muscles. At times it can seem overly familiar, a bit tacky or tawdry or maybe just banal, evoking the withdrawing room of an aesthete of the s, a gay sauna in the s or the yard at the back of a modern garden centre alongside the blue-glazed planters and bird baths. The Uffizi in Florence was once most famous for its collection of classical sculptures, but who now spends much time looking at them as they barge past to the Botticellis?
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Male nudes are the norm in Greek art , even though historians have stated that ancient Greeks kept their clothes on for the most part. New research suggests that art might have been imitating life more closely than previously thought. Nudity was a costume used by artists to depict various roles of men, ranging from heroicism and status to defeat. Hurwit's newly published research shows that the Greeks did walk around in the buff in some situations. Men strode about free of their togas in the bedroom and at parties called symposia, where they would eat, drink and carouse. Nudity was also common on the athletic fields and at the Olympic games. Because there are so many images of Greek athletes, some lay people have assumed the Greeks were in their birthday suits all the time. Warriors and heroes are often, but not always, represented in the nude. Artists demonstrated the physical prowess men used to defeat their enemies.
Greek women had arranged marriages
To browse Academia. Skip to main content. You're using an out-of-date version of Internet Explorer. Log In Sign Up. Why is the male nude prevalent and the female nude virtually absent from Ancient Greek art? Ata Elbizanti. American University of Beirut Why is the male nude prevalent and the female nude virtually absent from Ancient Greek art? It did emerge, but only scarcely, often for specific reasons and within specific circumstances.
James Robson does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. A new exhibition at the British Museum promises to lift the lid on what beauty meant for the ancient Greeks. But while we gaze at the serene marble statues on display — straining male torsos and soft female flesh — are we seeing what the ancients saw? The feelings that beautiful faces and bodies rouse in us no doubt seem both personal and instinctive — just as they presumably did for the ancient Greeks who first made and enjoyed these artworks. But our reactions are inevitably shaped by the society we live in. Greek attitudes towards sex were different from our own, but are all those myths about the sex lives of the ancient Greeks true? And how does this affect how we view the art?