An Informal History Of The Male Nude

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Episodes

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01Edith Hall2012022020130610

In the first of a series of essays on the meaning of the male nude in the visual arts, Edith Hall, traces her fascination with the subject from Myron's bronze Discobolus to the marble form of the Emperor Hadrian's lover, Antinous and reflects on the impact they've had on her understanding of what it means to be a classicist.

Producer: Zahid Warley.

Edith Hall reflects on the meaning of the male nude in the art of the ancient world.

When we think of the nude we usually think of the female nude and in Western art in particular we're often contemplating an image where the artist is primarily concerned with sensuality and desire. If we spare a thought for the male nude at all he tends to appear as a figure symbolising courage and endurance. Both perspectives are, of course, a simplification or distortion. This week's Essay series - Men Only: An Informal History of the Male Nude - is a kind of corrective to that astigmatism.

In the first essay the classicist, Edith Hall, examines the ideals of the Greeks and the Romans. She begins with Myron's discus thrower from 460 BC and moves via Marilyn Monroe and Leni Riefenstahl to the images of Antinous, the great love of the Roman Emperor, Hadrian. Along the way she rediscovers the shock of her first encounters with the Classical tradition and reflects on the impact this continues to have on our lives today.

First broadcast in February 2012.

02Partha Mitter2012022120130611

Where is the male nude in Indian art? Is there such a thing? And if he's there for all to see why has he proved invisible to all but the most discerning of Western eyes? The art historian, Partha Mitter, answers all these questions in the second instalment of Men Only- An Informal History of the Male Nude. He explores both the differences and the similarities between the Classical tradition and the Hindu one pausing to recall his own experiences as a 14 year old life artist in Calcuttta and as a not so accidental tourist cowering beneath a giant, erect Jain statue on the outskirts of Bangalore.

Producer: Zahid Warley

First broadcast in February 2012.

The art historian, Partha Mitter, explores the meaning and power of the male nude in the visual art of the Subcontinent and examines where and how it diverges from the West's Classical ideal.

Poducer: Zahid Warley.

Partha Mitter explores the meaning of the male nude in the visual art of the subcontinent.

03Gabriel Gbadamosi2012022220130612

The male nude in Africa is a vexed, political question. So its perhaps inevitable that the writer and broadcaster, Gabriel Gbadamosi has chosen an olblique, provocative approach to the subject. Drawing on his Yoruba and Irish roots, for the third part of Men Only: An informal History of the Male Nude, he journeys from South London to Nigeria and back again slowly uncovering pleasure as well as paradox. At the beginning and at the end of his exploration he comes face to face with the phallic, trickster god, Eshu - a being at work in traditional sculpture as well as in the photography of the Brixton-based Rotimi Fani-Kayode.

Producer: Zahid Warley

First broadcast in February 2012.

Gabriel Gbadamosi considers the meaning of the male nude in African art.

04Matthew Sweet2012022320130613

One of the weighty and apparently immovable pieces of our mental furniture is the notion that Queen Victoria was a prude. Another is that the Italian Renaissance was a sunny dream where man was always the unapologetic measure of all things. In the fourth part of Men Only: An informal History of the Male Nude, the author and broadcaster, Matthew Sweet, confounds both of these notions. He focusses on a cultural exchange between Queen Victoria and the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Leopold II as well as examining a sixteen inch fig leaf, penectomies and Crystal Palace. Stay tuned!

Producer: Zahid Warley

First broadcast in February 2012.

05 LASTSarah Kent2012022420130614

In the fifth and final essay in the series, Men Only, the critic Sarah Kent contemplates the place of the male nude in contemporary art. She examines the differing approaches adopted by male and female artists and ranges from the photography of Robert Mapplethorpe to Sam Taylor-Wood's video of David Beckham.

Producer: Zahid Warley.

Critic Sarah Kent contemplates the place of the male nude in contemporary art.

First broadcast in February 2012.