LA CIVETTA April 2019 - Page 30



RA exhibition on the Renaissance nude reignites the taboo on nudity

The Renaissance Nude exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London (to be launched on 3rdMarch 2019) has already created debate about how Renaissance artistic values and trends related to the human body clash with today’s attitudes. Society’s treatment of the human form is reflected and shaped by artists and cultural influencers who promote images of the beautiful and the ugly. Our Editor Will Holmes discusses whether the values of Renaissance artists are useful reminder for us today on how we perceive the human body.

The naked body can bring out pleasure and trauma, desire and fear; it brings out a narcissistic pride as we admire our corporeal form and how it can represent us, and at the same time leaves us feeling exposed, insecure and imperfect. Throughout art history, the treatment of the naked has been axiomatic. Today, nudity in art and on social media causes a great taboo.

Topics such as body shaming can have a huge effect on young men and women’s lives, especially when bombarded with social media, photoshopped images and artistic representation.

We claim to be progressive neo-liberal societies that are permissive. Yet, it is commonplace to see the irony in such a belief. There is a obvious double standard when taboo is caused by an image of a naked man, despite the fact that female nudity is commonplace in an artist’s portfolios and exhibitions.

For example, in 1988 the The Sun claimed to censor a painting of a naked boy with an erect penis on the grounds that they were protecting “family values”, whilst reporting on the controversial “The Invisible Male: The Construction of Male Identity” exhibition. However, but a couple of pages away The Sun’s famous page 3 girls awaited its readers and their allegedly preserved “family values”.