Goddesses, Models, & Prostitutes
An Exploration of the Reclining Female Nude
Temporary Exhibitions, Lobby
The reclining female nude has been a recurring theme in Western art since the 1500s. It began with erotic images portraying an idealized woman (often in the guise of a goddess) for the pleasure of the male viewer. Through her passive, reclined pose, she offers her body for our gaze; her recumbent nudity implies that she is sexually available. She represents sensuality, beauty, and desire. As the subject of the female nude became canonized, artists began to expand the ways in which it was represented. She can be depicted alone or with guests and companions. With each incarnation of the reclining female nude, the tradition continues to grow and change.
A Space for Dialogue, founded with support from the Class of 1948, is made possible with generous endowments from the Class of 1967, Bonnie and Richard Reiss Jr., Class of 1966, and Pamela J. Joyner, Class of 1979.
Curated by Olivia S. Field