Mid-20th Century Realist Nude Paintings
A Close Look at realist Art
Realist art attempts to portray its subject matter without artifice. Similar to naturalism, authentic realist paintings and prints see an integration of true-to-life colors, meticulous detail and linear perspectives for accurate portrayals of the world.
Work that involves illusionistic techniques of realism dates back to the classical world, such as the deceptive trompe l’oeil used since ancient Greece. Art like this became especially popular in the 17th century when Dutch artists like Evert Collier painted objects that appeared real enough to touch. Realism as an artistic movement, however, usually refers to 19th-century French realist artists such as Honoré Daumier exploring social and political issues in biting lithographic prints, while the likes of Gustave Courbet and Jean-François Millet painting people — particularly the working class — with all their imperfections, navigating everyday urban life. This was a response to the dominant academic art tradition that favored grand paintings of myth and history.
By the turn of the 20th century, European artists, such as the Pre-Raphaelites, were experimenting with nearly photographic realism in their work, as seen in the attention to every botanical attribute of the flowers surrounding the drowned Ophelia painted by English artist John Everett Millais.
Although abstraction was the guiding style of 20th-century art, the realism trend in American modern art endured in Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth and other artists’ depictions of the complexities of the human experience. In the late 1960s, Photorealism emerged with artists like Chuck Close and Richard Estes giving their paintings the precision of a frame of film.
Contemporary artists such as Jordan Casteel, LaToya Ruby Frazier and Aliza Nisenbaum are now using the unvarnished realist approach for honest representations of people and their worlds. Alongside traditional mediums, technology such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence and immersive installations are helping artists create new sensations of realism in art.
Find authentic realist paintings, sculptures, prints and more art on 1stDibs.
Finding the Right nude-paintings for You
The nude as an artist’s subject gained prominence in ancient Greece, wherein male nudes were rendered equivalent to power and victory owing to the Greeks’ celebration of men in athletic events as well as in the worship of the gods who populate Greek mythology. Nude sculptures in Greece positioned men as warriors — strong, moral and fearless. The naked female figures featured in prehistoric art and the art of ancient civilizations, on the other hand, were symbols of fertility and procreation.
Italian painters of the 1400s looked to the magnificent nude sculptures of Greek and Roman art for inspiration. By the end of the century, drawing of undressed models was part of the common practice for these artists. When Christianity had spread through Europe, however, Christians condemned Renaissance nude paintings — most of which are considered famous nude paintings today — because they were erotic, exploring, in some cases, same-sex relationships as well as women’s sexual power. Censorship was the order of the day, except for religious-themed works, such as 1526’s iconic Adam and Eve, an oil painting made by German Renaissance painter Lucas Cranach the Elder, one of more than 50 works made in his workshop based on the biblical story. Tuscan painter Daniele da Volterra was famously hired to paint fig leaves over the most exposed figures of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. While freedom of expression for artists has expanded significantly since then, prudish censorship persists when it comes to Renaissance nudity.
On 1stDibs, find a wide variety of authentic antique and vintage nude paintings, from works focused on the reliably reclining figures of Impressionist-style art to oil paintings created by contemporary artists who often work to reject the idealized human forms and unrealistic depictions of female nudes that preceded them. Additionally, find a primer on 1stDibs on how to arrange wall art as well as tips on creating salon-style gallery walls for presenting the wonderfully provocative nude paintings you’ve decided to bring into your home.