Regardless of its form, whether it is a photograph or a painting, for some people female nude is often looked at in negative ways. Many people argue that female nude is degrading the power of women. It makes women look like they are nothing but an object of male desires. The characteristic of the women in the paintings, their large breast and bottoms, it all appears to be designed for male voyeur. Nudity is a uniform for “I’m ready now for sexual pleasures”[i]
In my opinion, the nude in European paintings is an expression of beauty and great art. There were reasons for the painter to choose these women as an object. There was something special or unusual about them. It could have been for their beauty, power or their social status. In today’s world, beauty of women is shown in magazines, television, billboards and catalogue advertisements. Before all these technology was invented, the only media beauty could be expressed was through paintings. The women in these paintings weren’t just any women walking down the street. Just like what we see today in the media, consider these women to be ‘models’. They had what was believed to be the figure of perfection; softness, curves and long thick hair.
One of the paintings shown in Ways of Seeing” video is a painting by Jean Auguste Ingres called La Grande Odalisque. This painting was commissioned by Caroline Murat, Queen of Naples in 1814[ii]. Beauty is clearly expressed in this painting. Although Ingres’ ideal of female form is anatomically impossible with the enhancement of the overly long back appearance, her figure is the ideal curve. It is boneless. Her pose and her gaze have a deeper meaning than just a naked woman staring at the spectator. There is nothing sexual about this painting. The fact that it was commissioned by another woman also support that the nude is not only for male viewing pleasure. Another painting shown in the video is by Sir Peter Levy. It was created in 1972. Without knowing its history,...
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