Always something there to remind me

A lot of people – myself included – have been blathering on about today’s loose morals because in recent weeks Miley Cyrus has appeared naked in a video and Robin Thicke performs in another video with naked women. It took an exhibit at Musée D’Orsay to remind me that nakedness for the sake of art is nothing new. Entitled Masculine/Masculine, the exhibit in Paris of male nudes in art includes everything from a naked Eminem by American artist David LaChapelle through Picasso all the way back to life drawings by Delaunay from the nineteenth century. Promotional posters on the Metro show a naked Mercury, messenger to the gods, done in 2001 by the French duo Pierre et Gilles.

Of course, that’s France, you say, where attitudes are different. But the Musée D’Orsay took its cue from an exhibit of male nudes a year ago at the Leopold Museum in Vienna. And an equally shocking show with parental guidance warnings has just opened at the British Museum in London entitled Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art that features erotic items from 1600-1900.

All of this got me thinking about my favourite piece of sculpture in all the world, Donatello’s David. Done in the 1440s, it was the first statue in the round since antiquity and part of the wave of artistic reawakening that was the Renaissance. For me, it’s superior to Michelangelo’s better-known David. I can close my eyes and admire the naked and triumphant young warrior in my mind having been lucky enough to see Donatello’s work often in the Bargello in Florence.

Sex sells, and it always has. I just forgot for the moment when I was going on about naked nonsense on YouTube.

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