Whilst the female nude feels an almost staple fixture in art exhibitions, the male nude has rarely been afforded the same level of exposure.
And yet, male nudity was, from the 17th to 19th centuries, the basis of all traditional academic art training and a key component of Western creative production. So why the imbalance?
Director of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, Guy Cogeval, explained the existing discrepancy: “The male beauty still has some kind of taboo, it is true. When you walk through the Musée d’Orsay you have lots of instances where feminine beauty triumphs. You even have entire rooms dedicated to it. But you do not have not lots of male nudes.”
With this in mind, the Musée d’Orsay is hosting a new exhibition that aims to take an interpretive, playful, sociological and philosophical approach to exploring all aspects and meanings of the male nude in art.
It starts with the classical ideal of the male nude before moving on to more athletic poses.
For curator Ophelie Ferlier, an appreciation for the male nude in art stems from its innate sense of universalism: “This is an idealised body. It is not the body of one man in particular, but an idealised figure embodying universal values which really explains the interest in the male nude.”
Entitled ‘Masculin/Masculin’, the collection features 70 paintings, around 20 sculptures and numerous photographs.
The exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay is set to run until January, 2014.