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Summary Article: nude
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

In the visual arts, a depiction of the unclothed human figure. Conventionally, a distinction is drawn between the nude, literally an embodiment of moral or aesthetic values, and the naked, which adds to the unclothed connotations of embarrassment and an invasion of privacy. Landmarks in the history of the nude include the Venus of Milo about 150–100 BC (Louvre, Paris), Titian's Venus of Urbino 1538 (Uffizi, Florence), and Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon 1907 (Museum of Modern Art, New York).

Unclothed figures have been a feature of the art of most cultures and periods (with the notable exception of the Judaic and Islamic traditions), but the first occurrence of the nude as a major artistic subject was in Greek art of the 6th century BC. The Christian church discouraged its portrayal, seeing the body as shameful, and medieval images of Adam and Eve and of souls in Hell are typically ‘naked’ and vulnerable. With the rediscovery of classical culture in the Renaissance, the nude re-emerged as an expression of humanist values, and for several centuries the study of the nude was seen as the foundation of art. By the late 19th century, however, a new realism had begun to challenge the distinction between nude and naked.

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