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David (1504) "What spirit is so empty and blind, that it cannot recognize the fact that the foot is more noble than the shoe, and skin more beautiful than the garment with which it is clothed?
" -Michelangelo The nude figure is a tradition in Western art, and has been used to express ideals of male and female beauty and other human qualities.
It was a central preoccupation of Ancient Greek art, and after a semi-dormant period in the Middle Ages returned to a central position in Western art with the Renaissance.
Athletes, dancers, and warriors are depicted to express human energy and life, and nudes in various poses may express basic or complex emotions such as pathos.
Japan had a tradition of mixed communal bathing that existed until recently, and was often portrayed in woodcut prints.The earliest Greek sculpture, from the early Bronze Age Cycladic civilization consists mainly of stylized male figures who are presumably nude.This is certainly the case for the kouros, a large standing figure of a male nude that was the mainstay of Archaic Greek sculpture.The first realistic sculptures of nude males, the kouroi depict nude youths who stand rigidly posed with one foot forward.By the 5th century BCE, Greek sculptors' mastery of anatomy resulted in greater naturalness and more varied poses.
An important innovation was contrapposto—the asymmetrical posture of a figure standing with one leg bearing the body's weight and the other relaxed.