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In Ancient Greece, where the mild climate was conducive to being lightly-clothed or nude whenever convenient, and male athletes competed at religious festivals entirely nude, and celebrated the human body, it was perfectly natural for the Greeks to associate the male nude form with triumph, glory, and even moral excellence.The Greek goddess Aphrodite was a deity whom the Greeks preferred to see clothed.Male nudes tended to be slim and slight in figure, probably drawing on apprentices used as models, but were increasingly accurately observed.The rediscovery of classical culture in the Renaissance restored the nude to art.Temple sculptures and cave paintings, some very explicit, are part of the Hindu tradition of the value of sexuality, and as in many warm climates partial or complete nudity was common in everyday life.Japan had a tradition of mixed communal bathing that existed until recently, and was often portrayed in woodcut prints.
Nudes in Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling reestablished a tradition of male nudes in depictions of Biblical stories; the subject of the martyrdom of the near-naked Saint Sebastian had already become highly popular. Although they reflect the proportions of ancient statuary, such figures as Titian's Venus and the Lute Player and Venus of Urbino highlight the sexuality of the female body rather than its ideal geometry.An important innovation was contrapposto—the asymmetrical posture of a figure standing with one leg bearing the body's weight and the other relaxed.An early example of this is Polykleitos' sculpture Doryphoros (ca. In the convention of heroic nudity, gods and heroes were shown nude, while ordinary mortals were less likely to be so, though athletes and warriors in combat were often depicted nude.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.