Design Discussion : Nude Art

Design Discussion : Nude Art - roomfortuesday.comWe’re kicking off the week with a very interesting Design Discussion post… today’s topic is nude art. It’s a controversial subject (like the majority of our Design Discussions), and I wanted to share my perspective and hear about yours, when it comes to displaying nude artwork in your home. My friend Marynn asked the question on Instagram a few weeks ago and I thought, “what an interesting topic!” Of course I wasn’t in the majority for her post because I do like nude art (if you hadn’t guessed), but I still loved reading everyone’s preferences. I’m not allowed to link our busts from the Tuesday Made shop on Instagram because they contain nudity, which I totally respect. It just goes to show- nude art is a unique topic that usually evokes strong opinions. I’ve found that people either love it or hate it. That’s the awesome thing about art though- it’s in the eye of the beholder. Don’t worry, I’m not trying to make anyone uncomfortable with this post! Hopefully it’s a fun read that shares a unique perspective. Click through for my thoughts, if you’re interested…

Design Discussion : Nude Art - roomfortuesday.comGrowing up in a tiny rural town, I really didn’t see nude artwork until visiting a museum on a field trip in high school. I had always been interested in art of all kinds and didn’t particularly think anything of the nude sculptures at the art museum during that trip. They were neither here nor there. As I became more into fine art and eventually went off to college to study just that, I really began to love and admire classical works: sculptural pieces, gesture and figure drawings, as well as blind contours. Anything that depicted form in an interesting way.

My first college drawing class started out amazing- each class we’d spend 3 hours sketching still life scenes of inanimate objects, looking into the mirror for self portraits, or working on blind contour drawings to expand our skills. Halfway through the semester, I showed up to drawing class and in the center of the room was a model in a robe. The drawing timer started, the model dropped his robe, and the class began sketching. My small town, immature, young self was probably blushing and pretty embarrassed, but eventually I learned that I really enjoyed sketching portraits of live models (nude or clothed). It became a class activity I actually looked forward to.

Design Discussion : Nude Art - roomfortuesday.comThe following year of college, I delved into the art history side of things (and actually got a BA in art history because my minor turned into a major passion). I had the incredible opportunity to study in the fine art mecca of the world… Florence, Italy. This was the rooftop of the apartment I lived in (below). I was totally surrounded by the best art & architecture. It was really a dream come true, that also helped shape my creativity, aesthetic, and design mindset.

Design Discussion : Nude Art - roomfortuesday.comI got to see works from the greats in person, and became fully entranced with beautiful and historic pieces from the past. It was difficult to believe that only a year prior, looking at my first nude model in that drawing class was so… shocking. Ha! I guess this is kind of turning into a “coming of age” story. The early twenties are impressionable years, don’t you agree? During my time in Italy, I observed hundreds of pieces of nude art (the below image is from a weekend trip to Pompeii), and continued with my art history courses once I returned to design school in the states.

Design Discussion : Nude Art - roomfortuesday.comI absolutely loved my time spent studying and practicing fine art- that will always be such a cherished chapter in my life. I know most people don’t get to experience art in that type of setting, but it really did change the way I looked at it- nude art in particular. It was ubiquitous in museums, Europe, and my overall college education experience.

Design Discussion : Nude Art - roomfortuesday.comIn addition to the beauty and classical or historic nature of nude figure drawings or sculptural art, it really taught me to look at my own body from a different perspective. It seemed those portraits, paintings, and sculptures I spent four years analyzing looked nothing like the editorial magazines I grew up reading. The bodies were portrayed in a different way- and better yet, I believed they were all beautiful! It is art, after all. Seeing plush figures and curvy bottoms in art felt refreshing to me. Of course there is also the (literally) chiseled abs on certain greek gods and gladiators, but for many of the female subjects I studied in my art history classes, it was nice to see soft forms.

If we’re being honest here, like many young ladies- I struggled with my body image during my late teens and early 20s. It wasn’t until looking at art, of all things, that I came to realize my body was pretty great after all. For me personally, nude art helped me learn to love my body and normalize it. It taught me that all bodies are worthy of being art- no matter the shape or size… which I think is pretty incredible!

Design Discussion : Nude Art - roomfortuesday.comOk, I’ll stop rambling now and share some recent favorites below. Use the numbered links below the collage to shop- I’m sorry, the art is not clickable in this one…

Design Discussion : Nude Art - roomfortuesday.com01: gestural figures // 02: female nude art // 03: nude study // 04: figure drawing female nude // 05: 1940s vintage nude // 06: male torso bust // 07: female torso bust // 08: nude original // 09: vintage pair of nudes // 10: water color of nude woman // 11: aphrodite sculpture // 12: nude figure // 13: female figure bust // 14: 1960s vintage nude

I totally get that full frontal nudity in art can be a lot. I think there are plenty of ways to display nude art in ways that match your comfort level or taste- some nude gestural drawings don’t even show any of the bits- not even a butt crack in sight (typing that almost made me spew my coffee, so maybe I’m still immature after all). Haha! You get what I’m saying though… display whatever type of art makes you happy and is best for your home and its inhabitants.

Design Discussion : Nude Art - roomfortuesday.comMy mom once asked me why I had so many nude pieces of art throughout our home (she’s not a fan). At the time I didn’t really know what to say. I like it?? It’s beautiful to me? It reminds me of classical and historic works I love. It reminds me that my body is special. That question really made me think. My mother and I don’t have art or design in common, and that’s ok… we love each other anyway. My point here is to say- nude art makes some people uncomfortable and that’s totally fine. If you’re not into this type of art, find other pieces you absolutely love in different subject matters. If you are into figure drawings that may or may not be nude, bring those beauties into your home and enjoy them. You do you! If you like this type of art and other people in your home do not- you could also try a more abstract figure, or watercolor piece. There are also plenty of gorgeous clothed gesture or line drawings to be found.

At the end of the day, find art that makes you feel something. Bring artwork into your home you think is beautiful. Install a painting or sculpture that reminds you of something (a memory, a person, a place, etc), makes you smile, or brings you happiness.

These days, I enjoy thrifting for this type of art and sourcing creative and tasteful nudes or figure drawings and sculptural pieces for our shop. Once we’re able to travel again, I’m looking forward to more museum visits and exploring new places to absorb whatever type of art and architecture is prevalent there.

Design Discussion : Nude Art - roomfortuesday.comThis post is getting long, so I’m going to wrap it up. If you’ve missed any of my previous Design Discussion posts, I’ll link them below. I enjoy chatting about all sorts of controversial design topics! It’s pretty awesome to hear unique perspectives that might shape my design opinion in the future…

Design Discussion : Nude Art -[Total_Soft_Poll id=”10″]

For me, nude art reminds me of my art history days jaunting from museums to cathedrals analyzing incredible work (a once-in-a-lifetime experience)– all while learning to love my body, just the way it is. It makes me feel traveled, it connects me to artists in an intimate way, and I like the aesthetic. I’m so interested to know if you like and appreciate nude art, or if it isn’t your cup of tea! No hard feelings or judgement either way- I know it’s not for everyone. Regardless, I hope this was a fun and different type of design discussion (apologies if it got too personal) that helps you determine what type of art you enjoy and why. Let’s all have a wonderful week!

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  1. Nude art is a definite yes for me, but I can’t say I have ever considered why. Obviously, I believe the pieces that I own to be beautiful. They include woodblock prints, charcoal sketches, simple ink drawings, a watercolor, an abstract oil, chalk pastels, several colorful acrylic paintings and two lovely vintage photos from the 20s. I really enjoyed seeking examples in different mediums. Maybe my collection became an expression of my feminist growth. (My bookclub did a lot of great exploration a few years ago!) I surrounded myself with female energy. I love your notion of finding body acceptance through an immersion in classical works. I definitely think exposure (😉) breeds understanding and appreciation. At the end of the day though, we need only be surrounded by what we love…at least in our homes.
    I will be so interested to hear others’ perspectives! Thank you for so deftly presenting such a delicate discussion.
    PS Is that baby Sarah with red hair taking a photograph on the rooftop?!💜

    1. Your collection sounds amazing, Peggi! I’m not one bit surprised :) I’d love to hear more about your bookclub exploration on the topic (favorite titles)- what a fun group to be apart of. It sounds amazing. Exposure definitely breeds understanding and appreciation- amazing point. I also echo bringing only what we love into our homes. Home should always make us happy and be filled with things we love… whatever kind of art that may be. I’m also excited to hear others’ thoughts on this topic. Thanks for the fun design chat this morning! And yes- that is a baby Sarah with the red hair (and a nose ring that you can’t see). I was much cooler back then. Haha!! xo

  2. I have a BFA so I spent plenty of time drawing and paining nude models. So nude artwork doesn’t phase me and I’d have to say I’m for it. It’s cool that you evaluated your own feelings on it and discovered some deeper reasons why you like it! The body positivity one was something I needed to hear as well. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Same, Lexie! I’m here for it, too. I love many things about nude art, but that was a big one for me… especially during my college years. I’m glad it resonated with you as well. Have an awesome Monday :) xo

  3. Post-renaissance nude art makes me feel a little…embarrassed…and I’m glad you and other design bloggers brought it up. It’s a reminder that my point of view has been shaped by forty two years of social messaging, something I realize more and more now that I have two young daughters. I’m pushing back against the idea that nudity is inherently sexual, or only for the marriage bed, or tied to “morality”. Loving one’s body is HARD in modern society and nude art seems like a wonderful step towards normalizing things, especially for women and girls.

    1. I love your point, Amy! Nudity isn’t inherently sexual. Loving one’s body really is difficult with the standards of modern society. I feel like we’re headed in the right direction though, so that’s something! I imagine it’s tough raising girls and teaching them to embrace and love themselves as is. Keep up the good work and have a great week :) xo

  4. Jennifer Laura says:

    I love it so much, but my family is weirded out by it so I tend to stay away and go for more landscapes and florals- but I love it!!

    1. So interesting, Jennifer! Thank you for sharing. I also love a good landscape or floral :)

  5. I have a BFA and spent so many hours in nude drawing classes that the allure has totally worn off for me, I have several fully nude pieces and don’t view them any differently from any other art. But you are 100% right that a shocking (to me) number of people are uncomfortable with it! My spouse hates it, so I try to be respectful and only buy the ones that I cannot live without… But it definitely frustrates me a little how loaded this topic is, considering we all have bodies!

    1. Same here, Sarah. It’s just another form to me. I didn’t realize so many people were uncomfortable with nudes until my social media platforms started to grow a little. When I post a nude displayed in our house, it either gets praise or people are not at all into it. It’s definitely a loaded topic with strong opinions. You’re totally right though… we all have bodies and they do amazing things and work hard for us.

  6. I have a similar coming of age story about the acceptance of nude art-although not as interesting as yours. In high school I was in honors and advanced placement history and English. The course content was intertwined and there was a ton of museum trips, especially to art museums. I remember the first time I saw a nude sculpture at one of the art museums. I remember looking around our group of students, gauging the facial expressions to see if I was the only one slightly embarrassed. It was the first time I had ever seen the male “form”, and I felt a bit uncomfortable. However after more exposure to artwork from around the world, I was ecstatic to take an art history class at the recommendation of my English teacher. I loved every minute of that class. We got to deep dive into different time periods and what shaped and influenced the art of specific cultures. That class is where I fell in love with Ancient Greece and too many literary and artistic works to mention.
    To be honest, it never occurred to me that nude artwork would elicit an uncomfortable feeling for some. Perhaps because I accept and love it, I thought everyone would. I love that you mentioned the body positivity you gained from being exposed to nude artwork. That’s an aspect that I never thought about in depth, but something I always noticed- the women, especially, never look like the images we’ve been exposed to of women here in America. I’m all for artwork of any kind in a home. I find it fascinating to look at artwork in another’s home and see what captivates them, even if that happens to be a nude. I love the point that Amy made- pushing back against the idea that nude art is inherently sexual. I think that has been ingrained in American children for so long, that nudity equates sexuality. Juxtapose that idea with the numerous instances of the human experience (for women especially) when nudity is a requirement, and one that we have no choice in, and it feels like a hypocritical notion. The busts in your shop are probably my favorite pieces, and when I’m ready for purchasing style objects for our primary bedroom, they’re at the top of my list. This post and the discussion have made me wonder if items or artwork I’ve chosen would make my husband uncomfortable-I never thought to ask! Which brings me to a question for you, Sarah: how does Emmett feel about the nude art in your home? Was there ever a point where he questioned a piece you chose? Such an interesting discussion! Have a happy Monday!

    1. I really miss taking classes like that! They were so fun and fascinating. I think for me- social media was the eye opener that nude art was either a love or hate (controversial) type of home decor. Enthusiastic messages always roll in of support of gorgeous pieces I display throughout our home- or the contrary. Haha! I also loved Amy’s point, as well as all of your points, Lauren! Nude art is more often than not- not sexual. Oddly enough, the busts in our shop are one of our top selling pieces… despite the fact that I’m not allowed to link them on Instagram. I find it all so interesting to hear about people’s preferences and view points on nude art. Emmett also likes and appreciates nude art. I think he’s been with me long enough to learn more about it, since I’m super passionate about art. He was the one quizzing me and showing me flashcards for my art history courses back in the day. Haha! There is one nude piece we have that he is not convinced of, and I think it’s because of the scale. Laurie Anne created a massive nude painting during her time in art school and I asked her if I could have it because she didn’t love it and didn’t want to sell it either. I need to have it framed because it’s just rolled canvas currently. Anyway- it’s BIG and in bold colors, and I know Emmett is just thinking, “where on earth will we put that thing?!” Lol! He likes that Laurie Anne made it though, and doesn’t mind that it’s a nude. Thanks for the fun chat! I hope you have a wonderful week ahead, Lauren :) xox

      1. A big, bold Laurie Ann nude? You know I am officially dying to see that!!!

        1. She told me I’m not allowed to tag her if I share it. Haha! So it may remain a mystery.

  7. I grew up in a family with lots of artists, so nude art was always around. I never thought anything of it! I took drawing in college and wasn’t phased by the nude models either. I have nude art in my house, but keep it to my bedroom and bathroom. It feel intimate and those are intimate spaces, so I think the pairing complements each other. My older, conservative MIL was a little surprised the first time she visited! My kids are used to seeing them and don’t think anything of it either. In first grade, my son went to a museum and all the kids were agog at the nude art, and he didn’t understand why. I’m glad it’s that way. Bodies are just bodies. There’s nothing to be ashamed of in my opinion. The US is much more hung up on nudity than other cultures. I find it interesting that nudity and sexuality are so taboo, but violence it accepted. But that’s a topic for another day. Very interesting discussion–thanks for continued great content!

    1. It’s so interesting to me! I love hearing your perspective and thoughts on this. It’s pretty awesome that your children aren’t phased by it and are learning to appreciate it for what it is. I loved this, “Bodies are just bodies; there’s nothing to be ashamed of.” I couldn’t agree more! Have a great week.

  8. If you would have asked me several years ago if I would display nude art in my home, I would so absolutely not. Was it because I had small children or that my family would be offended? I think it’s the latter. More recently I have looked at several pieces that I liked for our bathroom. Your sculpture pieces in your store & home I love! Your friends nude art is beautiful.
    I too was brought up in a small town and nudity in all forms is a no no. I like art that depicts the body in a more subdued form without all the intricate (frontal) parts. I don’t think going to a museum or country where there are nude statues ever bothered me or most people. Did we even think secondly about it? Hmm! I love your perspective on seeing all bodies as art instead of there being something wrong if they don’t look a certain way. You Sarah are more mature than your years. I laughed out loud at your butt crack comment but understand what you meant.
    Bottom line (ha) I believe you enjoy what makes you happy in your home. Enjoyed the post and discussion.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing, Danna! I can definitely relate! It’s such an interesting topic to me on what type of art people love and why- and why people have such a strong opinion on nude art, specifically. I totally agree that we should do what makes us happy in our homes- however that might look. Thanks for your kind words! I hope you’re having an amazing week :) xox

  9. Patricia Weiland says:

    Your design style has moved me to up my game. It is so timeless and I love it! I don’t really see the beauty in nude art but the busts in your shop intrigue me and I most likely will buy one or both soon.

    1. Thank you so much, Patricia! I love sculptural pieces- especially busts… of all kinds and subject matter, really!

  10. Lol this reminded me of the time our teenage daughter’s burly football playing boyfriend and his linebacker brother giggled when the saw a bust on my shelf that is clothed but was apparently sculpted with the model wearing only thin silk out in the cold…….
    Just ordered the male and female torso busts from your site. Should be a nice addition to my collection!

    1. Haha!!! Thank you for the laugh, Pam. Oh teenagers, lol! I’m so excited you got the busts- let me know what you think :) and THANK YOU so much for supporting our small business. We truly appreciate it! xo

  11. I am enjoying reading through these comments! Great points made above – nudity IS NOT inherently sexual and we all have bodies. I have to say I am a little irked that Instagram won’t let you link to the busts. Seems to kind of willfully misinterpret the point of that art! I have a little collection of 4 colorful nude-ish pieces that I have not gotten around to hanging in my bathroom yet. It all started with a really fun print I saw at a farmer’s market in New Hampshire. It is a woman in a swimsuit standing with her back to the viewer. She has large hips (just like me!) and her arms are raised to the sky. But, her head is a colorful bouquet of flowers. And if you look closely, she has hair on her legs. I just loved it and knew I would enjoy getting ready with it. Now I just need to frame the last piece so I can hang it all up!!

    1. Me too, Brittany! Everyone always has amazing points in the comment section. It’s probably my favorite thing about blogging- reading the comments. Ahh yes- Instagram… it has been a frustrating platform for me lately (with the linking, the algorithm, hiding my posts, etc). Ugh. I won’t rant about it today. Haha! I love your story about the farmer’s market art- that is so special and sounds gorgeous! She will be the perfect addition to your bathroom :) Thanks for sharing!! xo

  12. To answer your question though, it just reminds me of traveling in Europe where you see it everywhere. I simply never gave it another thought…

    1. It really is everywhere in Europe- so much beautiful art and architecture in that area of the world. It’s one of my favorite places because of that.

  13. Melissa D says:

    Nude art always makes me think of museums, and particularly of my visits to Italy and Greece – though I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in an actual home (not surprising when you grow in a very small town in the very Deep South). I tend to feel drawn more to sculptural pieces, such as the busts from your shop. (side note – I actually recently received my order for the male bust and styled it on our built-in this weekend – it’s even more beautiful in person, I highly recommend it!). There are a few of the drawings on your roundup I like as well (#1, #8, and #12 in particular)… perhaps it’s because they are a bit less showy of the “naughty bits” and I feel like they’re something my mother wouldn’t have a heart attack over.

    PS: I enjoyed learning about your background and your “coming of age” story! :)

    1. I had the same experience, Melissa. Nudes were not common or accepted in the area I grew up in. I’m SO thrilled to hear you love the bust! I like how heavy it is and that perfect putty color. You just made my day :) Thanks so much! xo

  14. Mattie Geddes says:

    I’m still coming to terms with nude art but I think body image is huge. I’ve been studying up on women’s health and I’ve read so much about how the magazine and gym super models may not be as healthy as we think they are, that a few curves and softness is good too. I’m also currently taking a art history class and studying lots of nude art. Its relieving to see women portrayed with their curves and all. Which has brought me to the conclusion that nude art isn’t only an expression of art and creativity but also historical views of beauty and body image.

    1. It really is refreshing to see women portrayed in different ways within art- I loved my art history days and hope you enjoy learning about it as much as I did! :) Nude art is pretty special! Thanks for sharing, Mattie!

  15. Cici Haus says:

    Nude fine art honestly helped me love and appreciate my body! I’m average sized but soft all over, and curvy, not toned at all (even when I was a state champion cross country runner I wasn’t lean and toned like you’d expect!). In college I joked that Renaissance painters would be all about me: soft and curvy with pale skin and red hair. But it made me realize that I was the definition of beauty at the time. So I may have born in a time when media defines beauty differently, but that doesn’t mean I’m not beautiful.

    1. Me too, Cici! You are exactly right- our bodies are beautiful and it’s pretty cool that art helped us learn to appreciate and love them :)

  16. Agree with absolutely everything you said and those are the reasons I am team, PRO NUDE ART! I guess I never even thought that it would be such a controversial topic! I have been collecting original figurative line drawings for a while now and think they are simply beautiful and want to display them all as collection sometime in a future home.

    The US, for example, is a lot more prudish (and I’m saying that in the nicest way possible – I’m not trying to be mean) than, Europe, for example, on images and even just talking about the human body/sexuality in general. I think Europeans are around it all the time (you see it everywhere) that it isn’t as shocking as some people feel it is here.

    1. Me too, JoNae! I’m in total agreement. I definitely think there is a shock factor. Thank you for sharing :) xo