Starting from the ancient times until today, the representation of the human figure has always been of interest for the artists. Despite the prevailing bias towards abstraction in the twentieth century, the fascination that inspires the human body has not fallen at all and the naked remains, a central place in contemporary art. Over the centuries, the representation of the human figure has played different roles in different societies.
No doubt the scientific study of the nude and the anatomy about human body is basically an innovation of the Renaissance. However, we must cons ider that, without an acute sense of observation, the prehistoric artists would not have been able to represent so eloquently figures like hunting or running.
For them it was the function that was important, like the magical power over the dam, which dictated the style of representing an antelope with a spear, this would result in his chase. The famous Venus of Willendorf is a plump woman with voluminous breasts as a symbol of fertility. In the exotic art of the Las Indias or exaggerated in the bust and hips. The art comes as the tension between the natural aspect of things (which is captured on the retina) and the needs of a society influences, along with feelings and emotions of the artist, and often manifests itself as a complex mixture of these three elements. In ancient societies personal tendencies of each artist were less obvious, and perhaps it was not from the Renaissance period when the artist became increasingly important. We face a history of changing ideas and needs.
In ancient Egypt the artists were imposed strict rules for the representation of the body, the description of everyday life and the journey to death and the afterlife. However, his art could not function if not based on conservation, as suggested by EH Gombrich, a specialist in ancient art, their figures show were making the most of each of its elements and from its characteristic angle and head in profile along with the entire face, shoulders and torso in front, and stomach, legs and feet sideways. It was not until Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) to become inventive to find this distortion.
Greek art chooses an ideal of beauty much more naturalistic, based on sound knowledge of the human figure, although it’s still really an ideal, the way it is formalized. At this point, and later with the Romans when establishing formal archetypes (e.g. the Capitoline Venus and the Three Graces), that appear recurrently throughout history art. The artistic expressions of the Romans and the Etruscans, as well as the frescoes of Pompeii, is proof of a perfect mastery of form and space.
For much of the Middle age, the ability of observation is as if asleep, while the pictorial narrative flourish to the dictates of the church. The image was transcendent and hierarchical. Later at the end of the period arose from Gothic works enormously expressive and meaningful and the figure started to be treated differently, which would resurface in the twentieth century expressionist art.
With the development of humanism and popular awakening of earthly life, with the reverence that inspired San Francisco beings by nature and with the resurgence of scientific interest for the man and his environment, we arrive at rebirth. It returns to the classics and in a period of just 250 years, we move from the shape and monumental space Giotto (1266? -1337) And Masaccio (1401-1428), through Leonardo da Vinci (1452 — 1519) and Michelangelo (1475-1564), to the lavish waste of the periods of Baroque and Rococo, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The great religious themes of the Crucifixion and the Descent from the Cross, which brings humanity to glorify Christ died, become more realistic.
These religious and mythological themes, as well as classic archetypes, they find their expression in Northern Europe with Peer Pul Rubens (1577) – (1640). They are known by this author notes on color theory and its subtle use of colors of the rainbow in the treatment of meat, which later culminated in the work of Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863) and Auguste Renoir (1841 -1919).
Unquestionably the work of greater depth and perfection of human portrait is contemporary with Rubens, Rembrandt Van Rijn (1606-1669), whose use of models in his work was constant. One of the most tangible and made naked inside Betzab Western painting is the letter from David.
With respect to the XV and XVI, are famous female figures represented by Giorgione (1478-1510) and Titian (1485 -1576), Which appear as sumptuous classical Venus, or those of Correggio (1489-1534), are also framed within the framework of classical themes. However, it was not until Francisco de Goya (1746-1828) and Maja Desnuda when we first found a naked watching us unperturbed. Later in the nineteenth century to Edouard Manet’s Olympia (1832-1883), we are again faced with a nude figure coldly provides the viewer with unrelenting gaze from his broad bed of satin.
The art studio where artists and students meet to discuss formally the male and female figures is a relatively recent phenomenon that emerged in the eighteenth century, has since developed a rich tradition. Throughout the twentieth century, many artists have broken the mold of classical representation. Since domestic and intimate settings of Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), light and color of the “seraglio” in Henri Matisse (1869-1954), to the imaginative ways of Picasso, the human figure has always been an endless source of inspiration and variety. At the same time, artists from northern Europe-Edvard Munch (1863-1944) and Max Beckmann (1884-1950) or the German Expressionists, have used for the figure to reflect and comment on the human condition.
In the work of Balthus, Alberto Giacometi, Richard Diebenkorn and Bakon Francis (1909-1992) are artists of the late twentieth century’s great figurative tradition continues. With the nude as a central element of his art, producing images of our time.